While some adults prefer to remain forever 29 or skip their birthday celebrations altogether, children and older birthday boys and girls enjoy counting down the days to the anticipated celebration. Whether teaching a young child to count using an Advent-style calendar or stirring up excitement and appreciation among an extended family as part of an older family member's 100th birthday party, countdowns are a fun way to extend the excitement of celebrating life.
Draw inspiration from an Advent calendar to create a birthday countdown. In place of a tree shape, trace a birthday cake shape onto two thin pieces of coloured cardboard and cut them out. On the top sheet, cut out three sides of "doors" (or flaps) to be opened each day of the countdown. Glue the pieces together, not getting glue on the doors. On the front of the doors, write the numbers of the countdown. Behind the doors, write messages or clues on where to find a candy or other treat.
Engage younger children by creating a birthday chain from construction paper and glue. Cut out strips of paper to represent each day of the countdown. Assist the child with forming circles and gluing the colourful strips together to form a chain. Hang the chain in a prominent place in the house. Each day, allow the child to remove one link. Encourage the child to count how many strips are left until the big day arrives. Vary the counting activities based on the child's age and abilities.
A Life in Pictures
Collect and frame photographs of the birthday boy from each year of his life. For younger children, select photos by the month or season. Every day of the countdown, set out a framed photograph in a prominent area of the house or office. Start with a baby photo and add photos each day to create a pictorial panorama of the person's life. Include as many past pictures from birthday celebrations as possible, in addition to shots of milestones in that person's life.
Celebrate an esteemed grandparent or great-grandparent's birthday in 21st-century style with a series of e-mails distributed to a network of family members and close friends. Set a number of days to send out the e-mails. Each day of the countdown, post an old photograph of the birthday celebrant, scan one of his or her old report cards or early drawings, or share a heartwarming story about the importance of elders in the family. Encourage others to share their favourite memories, too.
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