Areas to Address Possible Content or Play Activities

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Planning Sheet for Theme Birthday Party

Areas to Address

Possible Content or Play Activities

Toys or Materials



-Ability to dramatize or recreate a birthday party

-Ability to fill in words to song “Happy Birthday”

-Understand the sequence of events at birthday party (light candles, sing song, blow out candles)

- Talk about their birthday or friend’s birthday party (for memory and LP)

- Hide an object in one of the presents and have child locate

- Ask child who they want to invite to their party (remember names of friends and family members)

Nesting cake set or playdough or wooden cake with Velcro slices, toppings, and candles

Bakeware (bowls, pans, mixer), cake mix box

Velcro cake with candles and toppings

Plates, utensils

Nesting presents

Books: Birthday Parties & Celebrations

Writing: paper, writing utensils

Problem solving

-Position words: on the cake, in the oven

-Wrap present using diverse materials

-Ask child to cut cake using knife

- Assemble puzzle

Wrapping paper, tape, bows, nametags
Materials chosen for cake

Form board (sugar cookie puzzle - School Specialty)

Interlocking puzzle

Social Cognition

-Understand when someone is pretending to eat or drink

-How feel about it being a birthday party (happy, excited)

- Play Facilitator talks about favorite type of cookie/cake and see if child responds

Materials listed above

Book can help with eliciting feelings

Complexity of Play

-Acting out a birthday party (setting the table, making a cake, feeding dolls/animals, etc.)

-How many steps of party theme can the child work through?

-Can child stack nesting cakes, if using?

Nesting cake set or playdough or wooden cake with Velcro slices, toppings, and candles

Bakeware (bowls, pans, mixer), cake mix box

Doll collection, animal family


-Number of candles needed for cake, number of slices of cake needed, one on each plate, utensils for each one

- Have children match objects (glasses, plates, silverware) - this would apply more for lower functioning children

- Have child place candles on cake corresponding to age of child’s birthday

- Give out nesting presents and have child reassemble during clean up time; ask for the biggest/smallest present

Velcro cake with candles and toppings

Plates, utensils

Pre-drawn place setting

Nesting presents



- birthday- themed books available - look at pictures and talk to children to compare if we have that at our party like they have in the book, etc.….

- blank invitation cards for children to write invitations (see if they will write their name or attempt to write anything for family member’s names)

Books: Birthday Parties & Celebrations, The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli (on Amazon),

Carl’s Birthday by Alexandra Day (on Amazon)

Writing: paper, writing utensils




-Older versus younger

- Labeling objects in box

- Telling about their preferences

- Asking for help

- Ask child, “What are you doing?” during hands-on activity


- Ask “which one is my/your plate” (early pronouns)

- “Give me a plate.” (following simple directions)

- “Put the present in the box.” “Hide the present behind your back” (directional words)


-Narrate a past party experience & provide new information

-Generalization of party “rules”

- ask child to serve cake (or take present to) to parent or facilitator and watch for eye contact

- ask them to show parent what’s in the gift box and watch for eye contact, joint attention

-play cake, plate

-gift box with present inside


Gross motor

-Jump up and down in excitement,

-encourage child to imitate stirring when making cake

-Modify “if you are happy and you know it” song to: “If it’s your birthday and you know it……” (this could also be used for action words)

Fine Motor

-Writing invitations

-Grasping candles and putting them on the cake of choice, grasping utensils when making cake

-Using playdough, if applicable

- Ask child to wrap a present

- Make a necklace as a present

Music/finger plays: “Happy Birthday”
Art: Wrapping the present

Make decorations

Make card if guest of honor is not the child

- A variety of toys that could be presents

- Scissors

- Wrapping paper

- Beads and string


-Playdough cake


- Toys that make noise

- Noise makers, blowers


-Tracking of bubbles

Emotional and Social


-Does the child’s facial expressions change at appropriate times?

- Do emotions fit the situation during HB song and celebration

- Show excitement for baby doll when doll receives a present

- If we sing HB to child, does child show embarrassment

- Is there an element of silliness displayed?


-Can the child delay gratification if they open the present?

-When gift is presented, is expression appropriate to the gift?

-Can the child wait to blowout candles?

-Can the child comply with requests (e.g., put the party hat on the baby doll; give Mommy a piece of cake)?

Could use sabotage and give “bad” gift if child is pretending to be guest of honor


Does the child discriminate between appropriate roles and behaviors?

Internal conflicts, if concern

Is there withdrawal/anxiety associated with previous experiences?

Social interactions

-What is the play level of the child? Cooperative, associative, parallel?

-How much prompting does the child need?

-Is the child the leader or the follower, or do they alternate?

- Blow up a balloon and hit back and forth (also would address gross motor, vision, pragmatics)

- Share cake/drink with others (independently or on request?)

- Balloons

NC Early Learning Network is a joint project of the NC Department Of Public Instruction, Office Of Early Learning
and UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

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