Monday, September 5, 2016

Why Don't I Get Invited to Birthday Parties??

"Why don't I get invited to birthday parties," one of my students asked! This just breaks my heart and makes me so sad, but this is reality for most of our special needs children. Let's face it, most of them don't have "friends." Not solid friendships anyway, or friends that really want to spend time with them. It may appear to others on the outside that they are well-liked and have friends on the playground and at school, but on the inside, that is not usually the case! 

A good friend of mine has a 12 year-old child with Down Syndrome and she will agree with me 100%. She recently posted this on Facebook and gave me permission to share it in this post. She writes, "Everyone loves him. From the outside looking in, it appears as though he has quality friendships. As a parent though, I know that in almost 13 years, he has been invited to exactly 2 birthday parties outside of family. One was a school wide party and the other one was in first grade." The day she posted this was a very proud moment for this mama, because guess what? He got invited to a birthday party by someone on the football team that he is a part of....{wiping tears}. Can you imagine the excitement this child felt to feel like he was a valued member of his team? It was probably one of the best days of his life! 

Most people don't realize how something so simple as a birthday party invite can mean the world to a child! These children should not have to miss out on these magical childhood moments! Even at my age, some of my most memorable moments of my childhood were made at my birthday parties! 

As a teacher of mild/moderate to severe special needs students, and a teacher in a low-income area, not only do my students not receive invites to parties, they rarely get to have their own birthday party! 

So over the summer, and before I ever even read my friends post about her son, I decided that this year, as part of our life skills/social skills curriculum I am going to host a birthday party for ALL of my students in my classroom! For those that have birthdays during the summer months I will host their party either at the beginning of the year or end of their year, depending where their birthday falls.

I want to make it as fun and genuine as possible for them! Sure, I always brought in cupcakes on my students' birthdays and gave them a little surprise bag. But that's not a birthday party! I want them to be able to make their own invitations and pass them out, as my "own" children did. I want them to have party games, eat cake and ice cream, and open gifts! I want them to have a "real" birthday party and I want my other students to be able to attend a "real" birthday party!

I know throwing a birthday party can be expensive and some times parents are not able to financially help out. So this summer, I created this Classroom Birthday Party Pack to help me organize these birthday parties and to make it super easy on a low budget! 

I made invitations that they can color, decorate, and pass out. I am going to let them invite 3 other individuals on campus in addition to their classmates. It can be a friend from the playground, custodian, another teacher they love, or who ever they choose! It's THEIR day!

These are easy to print and fold, and on the inside they can fill in their name, date, time, and the place of their party (which will be our classroom). 

I made a parent letter that I plan to send home 2-3 weeks prior to the birthday party. The letter encourages parent involvement, but does not obligate or pressure them. This was important for me, as I know that many of my parents are single parents, do not work, do not have transportation, and cannot assist or participate. I want them to still feel welcome to attend the party!

 I made a boy and girl version, and both in color and B & W.

To make party activities simple and save money, one activity children will get to do during the party is make a birthday hat. 

 This costs me no money and they can choose from 2 options!

Each child will also get to make a birthday bracelet.

In addition to playing games, I'll also give the birthday girl/boy a birthday certificate! My students LOVE getting certificates!
Also in B & W.

I plan to play musical chairs as my students' love this game, pin the tail on the donkey (which can be bought once  for $1 and reused), and I'm thinking about possibly a pinata. If the parents are not able to bring in anything, my aides and I are going to pitch in to get a cake, ice cream, and drinks. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful aides that love our students as their own!

My aides and I are also going to all bring in a wrapped gift. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It could even be from Dollar Tree. My Treasure Tree typically consists of nothing but Dollar Tree goodies and my students LOVE this stuff! 

I also made a birthday wish list that I am going to complete with my students on the same day they make their invitations. I will send a copy of this home to their parents as well.
 Lastly, I made a shopping/to do list for me!
 I'm super excited about this, and so are my students and parents! When I told the parents about it at Open House they were all just as excited as me! I am so thrilled to be able to provide this experience to my students and can't wait to share these moments with you! Our first party is September 23rd!

I'd love to see other special education classrooms around the world providing this experience for their students too, so I've compiled all of these resources into a "Classroom Birthday Party Pack!"

What's a childhood without birthday parties and what's a birthday party without friends, right!?!

Party On,

1 comment:

  1. This is great! We often talk about this at our school and this year, we've asked Regular-ed teachers to include our special-ed students (that may/may not attend their class for specials) on their list for parties like Valentine's, Fall parties, etc... It means so much to these kids. Thanks for writing about this! -Dania from


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