Honoring the value of children worldwide is a concept introduced by the United Nations some fifty years ago. Around the world, many countries honor a National Child’s Day, sometimes also known as Universal Child’s Day. The date can vary, from country to country; some celebrate in May, June, or November. Think of this day in your country as a catalyst for cultural activities and lessons focused on the value, rights and welfare of children around the world.
Celebrating Children’s Day - Books and Activities for the Montessori ClassroomCanada celebrates National Child’s Day on November 20 each year, which follows the United Nations 1954 recommendation for a Universal Child’s Day “to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and of activity promoting the welfare of the world's children. It suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date which each considers appropriate. The date of 20 November marks the day in which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.”*
In the United States, the celebration of a Children’s Day seems to date back to the 1860s, if not earlier. At this time many churches were dedicating days to children. The day is often celebrated in a number of different ways including speeches, TV programs, parties, and parades. In 2008, US President Bush proclaimed June 1 as National Child’s Day and in May 2009, Children's Day was celebrated in Washington, DC.
Encourage your Montessori students to show their appreciation to another young person. It may be a peer, a family member, or a child from another country that they admire/respect. Invite them to write a letter to this person, stating what they appreciate about her/him, and why. Post copies of the letters in your Montessori classroom.
Observing a National Child’s Day in the school year may serve as a strong history and cultural activity, providing an opportunity to explore the United Nations, UNICEF, and the rights of children.
Invite your Montessori students to an early or mid-summer gathering. Use this as an opportunity to introduce forthcoming new students in your classroom to your current students to encourage community connections. A cook-out, picnic or pool party can help build excitement for the upcoming school year.
Send your students a series of notes throughout the summer. The notes could be a puzzle that reveals something about the new school year. This puzzle can only be solved once all the notes have been received. Encrypt the notes with a mathematical code to help students practice their math skills over the summer.
Establish an online forum where your students (along with their parents) can discuss their summer plans, books read, etc. with you and each other.
Books about Children
- A Day in the Life of Children Around the World: A Collection of Short Stories, by Kathy Kirk
- Wake Up, World!: A Day in the Life of Children Around the World, by Beatrice Hollyer
- A Child's Day: An Alphabet of Play, by Ida Pearle
- Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day (Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros), by Pat Mora and Rafael Lopez
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, May 29, 2009.