Sunday, August 22, 2010

Birthday Books for Elementary Students

My favorite time of the year is when my classroom is finally set up, the students have been in school for a few days and I'm starting to get more organized. That falls right about the weekend after the first few days of school. That's right about now. I feel such a huge sense of relief now as compared to the last few weeks as I was even starting to doubt my ability to function. Although I'm still working oodles of hours beyond the regular work day, it's on more of the stuff I enjoy; that is planning activities for the students that are engaging, rigorous and relevant.

Last year, with 64 students, it was really hard to do many of the activities I really wanted to do. Because of departmentalization, our time was so limited and extremely structured. The fact that I had so many students also made it costly if there were supplies involved. One activity I did not do last year, but always did in the past was have the students create birthday books for the birthday child, whenever there was one. This year, although 29 students in my homeroom is a lot, I'm thrilled to have every single one of them and plan to reinstate the birthday books once again. (I've had students catch me in public 25 years later and tell me they still have their birthday books from when they were my students!)

So, while I'm sitting here creating some interesting activities for my 4th graders, I just updated my birthday book and thought I'd share it with you.

If you teach elementary school, you might be interested in using it. Here's how it works:

  1. Download this PDF that I created. Each page has two duplicate pages on it so you can just cut them in half and save paper. 
  2. The first page is the cover. Make enough copies for each student in your class and use rubber cement or a glue stick to attach it to a piece of construction paper that is only slightly larger than the paper (9x12 cut in half). Save for when each student's birthday comes around.
  3. The next page is the inside of the book. Make enough for each student to have one (each student only needs half). Students will complete the page with a description and illustration of a "present" for the birthday child.
  4. The last page of the PDF is for the birthday child. He/she completes it with a description and illustration of a present he/she would like. 
  5. When they are all turned in, put the birthday child's page as page 1 then put with the rest of the pages and staple with a back cover of matching construction paper.
This can be a great activity for the students to do when they finish their work, or can be saved for the end of the week. Encourage students to write about presents that don't cost money. The students LOVE receiving these.

I hope you find it useful.


Patti Harju said...

Great idea and thank you for sharing!

Lyn Hilt said...

Our school librarian coordinates birthday books as's so special for students, teachers, and family members to check out their books each year!

Unknown said...

I'm printing this now for our teachers. Thanks for sharing it!

sue said...

I remember the birthday book from when we taught 2nd grade together! Probably still have the original one somewhere. :)

Lee Kolbert said...

Yeah, I couldn't find my original anything. I think you have all my stuff. I should come shop in your room. LOL I think the new version is new and improved. Let me know if you want the Word file. Same goes for anyone else. I'm happy to send it to you.

JoshuaKingEDM310 said...

Hey, my name is Josh King. I'm taking an educational multimedia class (EDM310) this fall at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. I really enjoyed reading about your birthday book. I have memorabilia like that from when I was in elementary school and I love to look back on those days and remember my friends and my teachers.
One of my assignments is to read and comment on your blog and to summarize your posts on my blog. I'll have my summary up by September 12.

My blog is

our class blog is

I really look forward to reading more posts!

Lee Kolbert said...

Welcome and best of luck to you. I appreciate your comments and I'm so glad you confirm that sometimes we really do make great impressions on our students. I'll look forward to checking out your blog. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

Steph H said...

I love this idea and will share with other parents -- it would be a great idea to have a group of friends do it as well..

steph h