Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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All, Freebie, Make

Freebie: A Montessori-Inspired Birthday Celebration

Today is a special day in our household – there’s a birthday… 🙂 Last year, I created some printable Santagrams and started a new birthday tradition of creating and sharing something that had special meaning to me as a kid. This week’s “Montessori Week” with Montessorium’s Guidepost Parent presented the perfect opportunity to honor the fond memories I have of my Montessori birthdays and their lovely Celebration of Life tradition.

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At my Montessori school (and many others), on our birthdays, kids formed a big circle and held hands. In the middle, a candle was lit. The birthday honoree held a globe and walked around the circle – one time around for every year, symbolizing the earth’s rotation around the sun. After each revolution, our parents or teachers shared special events in that year of life – a photo we brought to class or a story our parents shared.

Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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I think it’s such a beautiful observance, so in the spirit of the day, I created this birthday celebration candle – complete with rotating parts!

To make your own Montessori celebration of life candle you’ll need

Note: We wanted to create something that stood off the floor and had some weight to it, but if you’d like to simplify this process, or would rather not use cardboard and a glue gun, we’ll share a modification to speed up and simplify the DIY. 🙂

DIY Cardboard Montessori Celebration of Life Activity Instructions:

  1. Print the free Celebration of Life Candle Templates

    Download our free printable templates and print on to heavy cardstock (be sure to choose “borderless printing” in your printer options). Cut out each template piece.

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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  2. Cut the cardboard bases

    Gather a cardboard paper-towel tube and a medium-sized shipping/cardboard box. Using the smaller “seasonal trees” half-circles, flip face down,  line up to make a full circle, and trace to create a donut shape on one of your box sides. Cut right along the lines. This will be the base for your “season name” disc. We want it to be a little smaller than the paper disc so it’s hidden. Repeat the process on another piece of cardboard. Cut about an inch inside the lines for this one. It will be the base for your “seasonal trees” disc, and again, we want it to be hidden from view, so should be smaller than the paper disc. Cut a large square out of the remaining cardboard to create a base for your entire candle. I also cut out 8 small squares (I’ll explain why in a few steps…)

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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    Once you’ve cut your circular discs, make sure you can push your cardboard tube through the hole in the middle – the larger bottom disc should fit snugly. We want to be able to rotate the disc with the trees so kids can practice matching the trees up with the correct seasons, so the smaller disc should be a bit looser so you can comfortably spin it.

  3. Paint your cardboard tube and base

    Paint your cardboard tube and the square cardboard base for your candle with white acrylic paint. It should dry fairly quickly, but you can hit it with a hairdryer for 15-30 seconds if it feels like it’s taking a while to dry.

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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  4. Glue the printed seasonal discs to the cardboard bases

    Using a glue stick, glue the halves of your printed discs onto their cardboard bases.

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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  5. Glue the 2 sides of your flame together

    While the glue dries on your discs, glue the 2 sides of your candle flame together, making sure the cut lines at the bottom line up on both sides.

  6. Affix the candle to it’s painted base with a hot glue gun

    Using a glue gun, glue the bottom of your cardboard tube “candle” to the middle of the painted base. Cut along the cut lines at the bottom of your flame circle.

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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    *Note* – To give our base some extra weight, once the glue had dried, I tossed some small rocks down the center of the tube to add some sturdiness. 

  7. Glue cardboard spacers in between your rotating discs

    This is an optional step, but I think it adds some nice dimension and makes it easier for kids to rotate the moving pieces. Flip your “seasonal trees” disc and earth paper piece over. Hot glue 2 sets of 3 small squares together, then glue those squares to the bottom of your “seasonal tree” disc. Glue the remaining 2 squares together, then add those to the back of your earth paper piece. This raises your pieces up a bit, adding some nice height and space between your moving pieces.

    Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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  8. Slide all the discs on to the center cardboard tube, adding the flame on top

    Once your hot glue has dried, slide your discs onto the cardboard tube in the same order we did (season names on the bottom, seasonal trees next, then the paper earth piece on top). Push your flame over the top of your cardboard tube (no need to glue). Now your candle is ready to be used!

Modification: Your candle doesn’t have to be as “sculptural” or moveable as ours to be enjoyed! You can print out and cut the printables. Use a few pieces of scotch tape to join the circle halves (add to the blank sides). The seasonal discs can be glued together, or you can use a brad so they can be rotated. Grab a toilet paper tube, and simply place over the middle, adding the rotating earth and candle just as we did for our version.

Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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I’m so excited to celebrate and share this special memory with you this year!

For a few more Montessori-inspired activities, visit this collection of winter-themed practical life skill ideas, some winter-themed counting, sorting and simple math with the help of our tactile favorite – felt! Or create a lovely tabletop winter sensory garden with natural materials.

Start a new unique and meaningful tradition by celebrating your child's birthday Montessori style! Learn about the custom and make your own birthday candle (with a free printable). A wonderful way to learn about seasons and time as well! | via barley & birch
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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