Happy birthday! Telling a growing story

shelf Emerson’s growing story

Telling a growing story is how we celebrate birthdays in our group. This documentation, from 3/20/13, shares Emerson’s journey. –Marie 

From 3/20/13

Marie: I am so glad to say that we are here on the rug together to celebrate Emerson, and I’m going to tell a birthday story for Emerson.

Willa: Happy birthday Emerson!
Wyatt: Me too, happy birthday Emerson!

Daphne: Happy birthday!

Elias: Happy birthday Emerson!

I light the candle to be for the sun. The big, beautiful sun.

Marie: There was a time when Emerson’s family knew that a new baby was coming. So they did all the things that grownups do to get ready to take care of a new baby. And one of the things that they did was make sure that they had a way to keep a new baby warm and snuggly and loved. And so, here’s the blanket to be for that part, the getting ready part. And then there was the day the day came and on that special day a brand new baby got born and came into the world. And the brand new baby’s name was…


Wyatt (happily) Emerson!
Nayeli: That’s him!
Marie: And his grownups began taking care of him.

We look at a picture of brand new baby Emerson together.

Nayeli: (wondering) Is he in the same blanket?

Willa: Is he asleep?

Daphne: Yeah!

Wyatt: Oh that’s super super cute right Emerson?

Emerson: Yeah. Right here (touches his baby picture), these are part of my arms.

Marie: When Emerson was a brand new baby he slept a lot. And he didn’t have words yet.

Willa: He could say goo-goo?

Wyatt: Well bigger babies can crawl but not-bigger babies can’t crawl yet.

Daphne: Baby Mac (her little brother) is a toddler now.

Willa: How old is he?

Daphne: He’s one now. On his birthday he’s going to turn two.

Marie: Emerson did growing and pretty soon he got to be a bigger baby. Like how we’ve seen Mac growing. And when he’d done some growing he could sit up. And he learned how to do some crawling. And he grew some more, then he could stand up. And then Emerson had gone one time around the sun and he was one year old. And so he had his first birthday (I take a number one out of the birthday basket and place it on the rug, next to the little baby figure that we’ve tucked snug into a blanket when telling about the day Emerson was born.)

Marie: Something people often like to do on a very first birthday is give the baby their very first slice of birthday cake.

We look at a picture of Emerson, he is one!

Emerson: I wanna tell you something. I got a Clifford birthday cake!

Willa: Look how silly he looks in that picture!

Daphne: I like that picture, I like that picture of Emerson when he’s one.

Willa: I like that picture because it’s silly.

Daphne: Me too. He got his face all messy.

Marie: He kept on growing. Kids have to learn things like, even how to walk. So pretty soon he could walk. And his body got stronger and then he was able to, not just make noises, but say words. Like words for his grownups. And his body got stronger and he could do things like climb and run and then he was… (I bring out the next number)

Nayeli: Two!

Marie: And he had a birthday to turn two.

We look at a picture from when Emerson turned two.

Emerson: I want to tell you something.

Marie: Tell us something.

Emerson: I got a bouncy house when I was two!

Wyatt: Hey, I got a bouncy house at my house!

Marie: Emerson kept growing. He went to school. Not to this school yet, it was a different school. Emerson was learning how to play with other kids, and how to use blocks. Because when he was two he couldn’t make parking garages yet he had some more learning to do first.

Emerson (explaining to us): I could make parking garages but just little ones.

Daphne: Emerson you’re four today!

Marie: Yes, and we’re getting to that part in his story! So, he turned (taking out next number, everybody now chimes in happily) Three years old.

Nayeli (who is having her last day as a three year old with us this day) I’m still that age.

We look at a picture of Emerson’s third birthday.

Emerson: That is Nana and Bop’s face (grandparents, in photo). That is Bop. Bop’s face.

Marie: What I know about this picture is that it was right around the time that Emerson started coming to Tigerlily, so he was meeting kids and me. So Emerson was meeting (re-meeting, actually, turns out they were tiny babies together around town!) Willa. And Emerson was meeting Nayeli. And Emerson was meeting Elias. And pretty soon, Emerson got to meet Wyatt. And then he got to meet Daphne. And he met me on his first day here. The day when you had the blocks and you built a house for bears. We could look for a picture of that in Our Day book (Our Day Book is what the children call the notebooks they have access to that hold printed out copies of the daily documentation letter I share with the families each day), we’d have to go back, all the way to back to a year ago to when Emerson was not four yet, when he was two and a half.

bears Emerson’s house for bears 2/1/12
Another first day picture, 2/1/12
Another first day picture, 2/1/12

Marie: Well! Emerson kept growing, because Emerson didn’t make just houses for bears out of blocks. Emerson started building ramps like Wyatt was building and then they began building them together. And he started building things that were taller. And he started using more and more blocks. And he started learning more things to say. And he started learning things like, when he felt so sad to say “please hold me” to feel better. That was some of the learning that he’s done. And he learned how to ask someone “is it real or pretend?” when you aren’t sure. Because when you first start to pretend it’s not always easy to tell so we do asking.

Wyatt (beginning to sniffle dramatically to enhance my telling)

Willa (also playing along, we are all so into this telling!) Is it real or pretend?

Wyatt (happily) Pretend!

Emerson (confidently): It’s pretend.

Marie: Emerson learned how to play bad guys and crocodiles. And Emerson learned how to tell a story. And Emerson read his very first words in his word envelope. Because, when he was younger he didn’t know how to read them yet. He did so much learning and so much growing and Emerson is now…

(all of us) Four years old!
Daphne: Hey that’s what number I am!

We look at a four year old Emerson.

Emerson: That is cars I made for my birthday. That is my birthday party.

Willa: That’s his family party, he hasn’t had his kid party yet.

Marie: We’ve been lighting the candle to say kind things (at afternoon snack, when someone has Good Feeling Things to Say About we’ll go around the table and anyone who wants a turn to say their Good Feeling Thing can do so, then we light the candle in honor of what’s been said.) Before Emerson blows out the candle, would anyone like to tell him a Good Feeling something?

Wyatt: Happy, happy birthday.

Daphne: Happy birthday Emerson.

Willa: Happy birthday!

Elias: Happy birthday, Emerson!

Emerson: Thanks Elias.

Marie: Emerson here’s my kind thing I want to say to you: I am so glad that you come to school to be friends with us, and we get to grow together.
Wyatt: And I am so happy that you have your birthday Emerson!

Marie: It’s a good feeling.

Making strawberry birthday muffins together 3/20/13 Making strawberry birthday muffins together 3/20/13