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Our Montessori birthday

Jul 14, 2020

For some years now we have been celebrating Oliver and Emily's birthday with a small "ritual" that we call the "Montessori birthday": it was not invented by Maria Montessori, but it is the way children's birthdays are celebrated in many Montessori schools around the world.

Since we decided to not give in to consumerism and say no to plastic (which includes balloons), this is my way of making my children's birthdays special, without forgetting what really matters on their day: the celebration of life.

What you need

This is how I prepare the Montessori birthday.

- Small or large globe (or a toy globe)

- A table candle

- A colored cardboard or felt paper to cut out the age

- Child’s photos: 1 photo of the birth day and 1 photo for each year of the child’s life (I like to print them out, but while traveling I created a collection on the phone, which is also more eco-friendly ;-) It doesn't have to be a photo from the birthday, it can be a photo that represents the child on that year of life).

In the Montessori school that Oliver and Emily attended, they added the name of the child written with the letters from the moveable alphabet (3-6 years group), the months of the year around the candle, a flag of the country of origin of the child and red and blue bars to indicate age.

How we do it

In the evening, after putting the children to sleep, I prepare the room. I put the globe, the candle and the number on a low table on a mat on the floor. The globe represents the earth where we live, it is us. The lit candle represents the sun. The number represents the number of times the earth has gone around the sun since the child was born.

In the morning, as soon as we wake up, we sit around the table or carpet. We light the candle. We talk about the special day and I remind the children what each object on the table represents.

Then we start the actual Montessori birthday. Let's imagine it's Oliver's birthday:

- We look at a photo of when Oliver was born.

- Oliver takes the globe in his hand and goes the candle (the sun) while we sing a song.

- Oliver is now one year old, and we look at a photo (or a series of photos) of his first year of life (it doesn't need to be his first birthday, just photo that represent him in his first year)

- Oliver goes around the sun once more while we sing.

- Now Oliver is two years old and we look at a photo of his second year of life.

- Another tour around the sun (with song) and we look at a photo of his third year of life.

- And so on until Oliver has gone around the sun as many times as his years of life (in the photos, he turned 5). At this point, we’ll ask: "Do you want to see a photo of 5-year-old Oliver?". And we take a selfie, his first photo when he’s 5 :-)

- Oliver blows out the candle and the “ritual” is over.

After all the birthday parties we went to, for Oliver and Emily birthday means cake (when they were younger they used to say: “Where's the birthday? I want to eat the birthday” meaning "cake"), so since we usually don't give gifts, after the Montessori celebration we have breakfast with a small cake, and blow out the candles.

The song

The song we use is in English and we sing it on a slow (customised 😂) variation of the Popeye theme song (don't ask me why, it just happened!). The lyrics we use is:

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

And Emily turns one

The final number changes each time, of course, and therefore the song doesn't always rhyme, but it's nice anyway.

Photos and video of our Montessori birthdays

Here's a video of Emily's third birthday: we were in our Airbnb in Hoi An, Vietnam, during our world tour. I have such a very sweet, cosy memory of that day and that's why I decided to make a very simple video that would reflect my memory. In the video you can hear the song, and after each song we looked at the pictures… so many memories!

And these are some photos from Oliver's fifth birthday: we were in our Airbnb in Bali during our world tour and nonna Savina had come to visit us.

I'm always in my pjs :-D
The number (written on the tablet, because I didn't paper), the globe and the candle. 
Here I added 5 small objects to represent the quantity.
First photo of 5-year-old Oliver :-)

And here's some photos of when Oliver and Emily celebrated their birthdays in their ex Montessori school in San Pedro, Casa del Mar Montessori.

Oliver compiva 4 anni ed Emily 2 anni, l'anno in cui siamo partiti per il nostro viaggio intorno al mondo. 

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Oct 16, 2020 • 19m
La nostra routine con i bimbi
Mi chiedete spessissimo quale sia la nostra routine a casa con i bimbi e in questo episodio vi svelo che noi, una routine vera e propria, non ce l'abbiamo. Abbiamo una routine minima e indispensabile, che è un concetto che mi sono totalmente inventata su due piedi mentre parlavo a briglia sciolta in questo episodio, ma che credo funzioni davvero. Almeno per noi. La routine minima e indispensabile, secondo me, risponde anche a un altro "problema": trovo che ci bombardino spesso con l'idea del...
11
Oct 9, 2020 • 24m
Sostenibilità: come sensibilizzare i bambini e i giovani adulti | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
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Oct 2, 2020 • 24m
Intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.