Birthday Party


In this unit students help plan a party for Q-Bear and think about some of the different ways people celebrate their birthdays.

Achievement Objectives
GM1-1: Order and compare objects or events by length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time by direct comparison and/or counting whole numbers of units.
NA1-2: Know the forward and backward counting sequences of whole numbers to 100.
NA1-3: Know groupings with five, within ten, and with ten.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • State when their birthday is and locate this on a calendar.
  • Skip counting in 2s, 3s, 10s.
  • Make groups of five using different combinations.
  • Identify the diverse ways people celebrate birthdays in New Zealand.
Description of Mathematics

This unit supports students developing important skills around reading a calendar and identifying specific dates.

It also involves the use of number operations – counting from one, counting on, imaging etc, with practice in a variety of meaningful contexts

Cross-curricular links (Social Sciences)

This maths unit includes a collections of activities relating to birthdays.

Students could also be led to explore the importance of birthdays in some cultures and find out some ways birthdays are celebrated in different countries.

Associated Achievement Objectives

Social Sciences, level 1, AO 5: Understand how the cultures of people in New Zealand are expressed in their daily lives.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to differentiate include:

  • providing modelled answers number sentences and shape patterns
  • working alongside individual students who need support with particular activities
  • encouraging students to work in pairs or small groups.

The context for this unit can be adapted to suit the interests and experiences of your students by linking to celebrations that have meaning to them. Choose food, games and decorations that are appropriate for your class.

Required Resource Materials
  • Calendars
  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Cardboard to make crowns
  • Coloured paper to cut into shapes
  • Paper to make paper streamers, ideally crepe paper

Introduction, Session 1

Introduce Q-Bear (or something similar) to the students and explain that he is going to be having a birthday soon. Show his birthday on the calendar, making it near the end of the unit to allow time for planning the party.

Have students locate their birthdays on a calendar and record the date.

Lead a discussion to encourage students to read the calendar and compare birth dates. For example

  • Who has a birthday close to Q-Bear's?
  • How many days / weeks are there between the two birthdays?
  • Who is older, Jonah or Sally? By how many days?
  • Who has the first / last birthday of the year?

Explain that people all over the world have birthdays and lots of people celebrate them in their own special way.  What could we do to celebrate Q-Bear’s birthday?  Brainstorm and list ideas. For example: cake, candles, gifts, decorations, a feast, umu, hangi...

Exploring, Sessions 2-4

Explain that Q-Bear is very excited about his birthday so as a class they are going to plan and hold a party for him. Carry out the following activities as preparation over the next few days.


Q-Bear is going to be 5 years old and there are red and blue candles for his cake. Draw the different colours his candles could be. For example, 5 red, 4 red and 1 blue or 3 red and 2 blue etc.

Record this information as pictures, written sentences or number sentences.

Shopping list

Q-Bear is going to invite 5 friends to the party. They will get 3 lollies and 2 balloons each to take home. How many lollies and balloons will you need to buy? Use counters or draw diagrams to help figure this out, adapting the numbers to make this problem harder as required.


Q-Bear is very excited as he is going to have special cupcakes at his party. These cakes have 2 lollies on each one to look like eyes. If he ate one cupcake how many lollies would he eat? What if he ate 2 cakes? Or 3 cakes?

Record the pattern and practise skip counting.


Make a special crown to wear at the party. Provide students with 3 different shapes to decorate their crowns with, for example, squares, triangles and stars. Once the hats are finished count the numbers of shapes used on some of the crowns and record this. For example, Elisa used 3 stars, 4 triangles and a square on her crown. She used 8 shapes altogether.

Paper streamers

Make some paper streamers by joining lengths of paper together as interlocking circles; like a chain. If everybody makes 10 links how many will there be altogether? Have students carefully count 10 links as they make them, then count them all together at the end.

Reflecting, Session 5

Hold a party for Q-Bear with some special party food. Students could bring a plate, or the teacher could provide some items as required. Have students wear their hats and bring simple presents they have made.

Sing "Happy Birthday" or "Ra whanau ki a koe" to Q-Bear and play some party games.

After the party reflect and record some information about the party. For example

  • What date was Q-Bears birthday?
  • How many whānau and friends were at his party?
  • How many gifts did he get?
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Level One