Integrating Tech Into Birthday Celebrations

Discover tech-empowered strategies for celebrating students’ birthdays in K–12 classrooms.

Grades K-12 12 min Resource by:
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Birthday celebrations are important, not because someone is turning a year older but because celebrating a person’s birthday recognizes them. It’s a way to say, “I see you, you are important to me, and I want to celebrate you.” In a time when it seems like our students may be struggling with mental health more than ever, birthday celebrations can be a great way to lift up their spirits and bring a spark of joy into the school day.

The following are a few ways that you can leverage technology into birthday celebrations.

Decorations and Cards

What’s a party without decorations and cards? You want the space to feel festive, and you want the person being celebrated to receive a special message on their big day.

Two free products that are perfect for meeting this need are Canva (Tips) and Adobe Express. Both of these online tools offer a large pallet of templates that you can customize. Perhaps just as importantly, they offer free access for students and educators in K–12 schools.

You can use these tools to design banners, posters, cards, and more. These can be printed out or shared virtually. While you could choose to do the designing yourself, it can be fun and impactful to have students help with this. You might consider breaking the class up into groups and having each group design something for the birthday celebration. Perhaps one group creates the happy birthday banner, another creates the birthday card, and a third one could create a bulletin board display. Not only does this approach make the event more student-centered, but it also gets your class creating, collaborating, and taking an active role in celebrating the birthday of a peer.

To call attention to the birthday celebrations, you might designate a portion of your class bulletin board as the birthday spotlight or birthday corner. In this way, at least one student is always being recognized and celebrated in your classroom. The implicit message is that you’re waiting for the next birthday so that you can celebrate each student. It helps to build anticipation and recognition.

When you get to springtime, you may want to consider a larger section for celebrating birthdays that fall during the summer months, to ensure that students with summer birthdays are also recognized.


Technology can also be used to communicate birthday wishes. The well-wishes can come from the teacher or the students—preferably the whole class.

As the teacher, you can send messages home. Email is a reliable option, and you can probably find home email addresses in your student information system (SIS). If you use a classroom management tool like Seesaw or Schoology, you can send messages home directly through those platforms. Your SIS probably also has a messaging feature built into it. If your available platform offers a delayed or scheduled send option, you could potentially get all the messages written up in one day and schedule them to be sent off on each student’s birthday. This is nice because then you can do it when you have time and not worry about missing someone in the busyness of your daily schedule. When you send these out, it’s nice to include both the parent and the student. In this way, the student will not only get the positive message, but they will also be celebrated in front of their parents. This can amplify the well-wishes and extend the celebration into the home.

Students can also send birthday messages to their peers. They could design cards in Canva or Adobe Express, print them, and physically give them to their classmates. They could also send virtual messages via email if they have a school account. You could even have students share their messages through a class discussion board, or you could use a collaborative tool like Padlet (Tips) or Figjam (Tips) to have students share positive notes with their classmates.

One nice thing about using virtual platforms is that students can post content in multiple modalities. They can still post text, but most of these products also allow for images, video, or audio messages. This can give students voice and choice while allowing them to make the messages feel more personal.

When having students send messages, you might want to screen them before passing them along to the birthday student, to make sure they are all positive and uplifting. Of course, setting these expectations before the students post goes a long way as well and can head off any potential issues before they arise. Because students know that they will also be receiving positive comments from their peers, they will almost always rise to the occasion and send positive messages that build up their peers and focus on their best qualities and assets. This can be a great esteem builder for students, and it can help you strengthen your classroom community.

Class Activities

You can take a classroom birthday celebration to the next level with fun, engaging class activities, and this is another area where technology can really help out. Here are a few ideas you might consider.

You can use online quiz-game software to create a trivia quiz about your birthday student. To give you content for this, consider interviewing students or have them fill out a quick Google Form. This is a great way to tell the student that you want to get to know them on a more personal level, and it also gives you the content that you’ll need to create the birthday trivia activity.

You can put this content into one of the many quiz generators out there, with Kahoot! and Quizlet being two popular choices. Quizlet Live can also be a great choice because it gets students collaboratively answering the trivia questions about their peer who is being celebrated. A Quizlet Live experience almost always initiates intense collaboration and heartfelt laughter.

Another option is to create a Jeopardy-like board containing categories of information about the student. This can also be a nice option to celebrate a month’s worth of birthdays, with each column or category being the name of a different student. That way, there are five or six questions about each student, and you can celebrate collectively. A few of the template options are this Google Slides deck from Control Alt Achieve or the online board builder from JeopardyLabs.

Having students use technology to create something original can be one of the most powerful classroom experiences that teachers can provide. It engages students at the highest level and is an authentic way to get them applying classroom content.

Student creations can also be built into birthday celebrations. You could have students do this independently, but having students work in groups tends to be more engaging and fun, and it feels a bit more like a party. To put this into effect, you’ll want to choose an outcome or project goal and a digital tool to be used. You can pick the specific message and tool yourself, but typically it’s more empowering to give students voice and choice on this—within parameters, of course.

One fun idea is to have students create a birthday book. This could be a collection of pages celebrating the talents of the featured student, or it might be a fictional story featuring the student. Book Creator is a great tool for this since it allows students to add video, text, images, and audio. Once again, you’ll want to set the expectations for a positive and uplifting message, so the activity builds the student up.

In addition to Book Creator, you could have students use other multimedia tools to design and create birthday messages. Options include Canva (Tips), Adobe Express, your favorite video editing software, Seesaw (Tips), or Google Slides.

If you have students create a complex, time-consuming product, you might want to celebrate a number of birthdays at once and divide the birthday students among groups. Perhaps this is something you can do at the end of each quarter or trimester to keep it more manageable and novel.

Sometimes, birthday activities are simply for fun. You might decide to give the birthday student an opportunity to choose the activity they want for their birthday. To facilitate this, you could create a choice board or a set of birthday coupons for the birthday student to pick from. These could again be created with Canva or Adobe Express.

Options can include both online and offline choices as well as individual and whole-class rewards. Some examples could be choosing a GoNoodle brain-break birthday dance video, playing an online digital game, experiencing a virtual field trip of their choice, or maybe trying out a 360-degree video, which is a fun resource because it’s interactive. Students can move around the video or image and choose their own path of exploration, and there are a number of these available for free online. Some include AirPano, 360schools, and 360-degree images on Google Maps. You can also find 360-degree videos on YouTube, using their Filters feature. Budget allowing, Google Cardboard virtual-reality viewers can be used with iPhones or iPads to provide students with a more immersive experience.

Students could also be allowed to create a playlist of their favorite online books using Epic or another book-hosting platform. Other students can then choose a book from the list to read for the day.

Students may prefer to engage in an escape room or breakout box challenge. You can search online for various resources, like Room Escape Maker or How to Build a Digital Escape Room Using Google Forms, or you can choose from free digital escape rooms from Ditch That Textbook. Another simple option is to use the Flippity Virtual Breakout template.

Not everything needs to be a digital experience. You can offer simple options like allowing the birthday student to be line leader for the day, to eat lunch with the teacher, or to sit by a friend. Sometimes, the digital tool simply helps you create the choice board or decor.

Birthday celebrations might not be the first classroom experience that you consider when you think about classroom tech integration, but these celebrations are important, and tech can help make these special days memorable and easier to implement.

AVID Connections

This resource connects with the following components of the AVID College and Career Readiness Framework:

  • Instruction
  • Culture
  • Relational Capacity
  • Student Agency
  • Advocate for Students

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