Master Builders, It’s Lego Party!

My little man turned 9 this month and early in January, he expressed interest in having a Lego themed birthday party.  Fortunately, a local start-up offers Lego Robotics, Stop Motion Animation, Computer Programming, and 3D Printing classes as well as summer camps, field trips, and birthday parties for youth. We had previously participated in a 3D Printing class so when I suggested we do the party at Build It, he was ecstatic.

I could not have planned it better for the new Lego Movie was released just a week prior to the party so the anticipation of going to the party was very high!  They knew they would get a chance to create their own Lego stop motion animation. What could be better?

Lego Bday14web

It’s a Lego Party!

This was one of the best parties ever – both from my perspective as a parent (no stress and mess) and from the feedback received from the boys. There were many activity stations to choose from and the boys were actively engaged the entire time.

Everything is awesome!!

When they arrived, they were immediately drawn to the center table where a dozen bins filled with Legos awaited them.  Without prompting, they got started right away building vehicles to test on the ramp.  When a few cars didn’t make it to the bottom, they were encouraged to modify their design and try again.  No hints were given .. the perfect hands-on, inquiry activity.

When the green screen was discovered – it became a great hit.  The boys loved using the props and remote control to take pictures of themselves inside the Minecraft world.  The pictures were saved and will be available for download in a few days.  Buddy was also able to select something to be printed with the 3D Printer. The boys enjoyed watching the printing process every so often as they bounced from one thing to another.

invites

The highlight, of course, was the Stop Motion Animation station, particularly with the older boys.  They spent a lot of time here tweaking their scene and recording their storyline.  I can’t wait to see all their videos when they are available for download soon.  They will then be able to use iMovie to import audio and sound to their animations.

The Lego party invitations helped set the tone of the party – Buddy helped to select a mini-fig image representing the interests of each of his friends.  We printed these out on card stock and on the backside we adhered a mini-fig template with the party particulars.

My little man has now requested the iStopMotion 3 software (affiliate link) so he can further pursue his new passion … how can I say no?

Valentine’s Day Party

On a whim, we organized an impromptu Valentine’s Day party this week.  We spread the word and encouraged guests to bring a treat to share.  MeiLi and Buddy crafted heart garlands for each family.  I neglected to take a photo of their work, but was able to find a similar image online.

A girlfriend brought over a bunch of crafts she picked up on clearance (we planned our party for Thr – and thereby all the Valentine’s were marked down at the stores).  When the guests arrived, all the girls went to the craft table and occupied themselves with their creativity.  It was such a delight to listen to the girls giggle and sing together.

The boys, on the other hand, gathered in Buddy’s room where they spent much of their time building with Legos.  Buddy and his best friend collaborated to build a delightful house, “We did it from scratch, Mom!  No instructions!” 

Delightfully, a couple weeks ago, we were introduced to a homeschool family with two children of similar ages of my own.  The kiddos clicked immediately and I, too, made a connection with their dad.  How exciting is it that it is the father that stays at home and does the majority of the instruction?  It is a delight to share in his experiences as he brings an entirely different perspective to our homeschool gatherings.

Buddy recently received a new bow and a dozen new arrows for his birthday (albeit early).  He has been showing it to all his friends so of course, they wanted to take it outside for target practice.  It was so nice to have a dad here to help the boys learn the finer points of archery.  I’m still learning myself, so I wasn’t able to give them as many tips. 

An Egyptian Party

When my daughter turned six, we were in the depths of a thematic unit on Ancient Egypt. It was of no surprise, therefore, when I inquired what kind of party she desired her response was, “Let’s go to Egypt!”

The Invitations

I thereby set out to put my creative energy and amateur cake decorating skills to use.

The Pyramid of Gisa Central Oregon

As Halloween is just a month after her birthday, I found the perfect costume online.

The Pharaoh Isis before her guests arrived

Together, we converted an old appliance box into a photo prop.

The Young King Tutankhamun

She told me during the party, “This is the party I always wanted! Thank you, Mom!”

A Delighted Mummy

I made a stencil with a graphic I found online (the same graphic I used on the invitations) so that the kids could create custom Egyptian themed t-shirts.

Party guests modeling the take-home gift (t-shirt) and fashionable mummy attire.

The kids had a blast wrapping one another in toilet paper.


In addition to the activities pictured above, party guests also made necklaces with their name written in hieroglyphics on shrink film… some turned out, others did not.

They danced to the Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian and enjoyed playing a homemade version of Senet, a game popular with the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

Snacks available included tabouli, hummus and pita chips, a veggie tray, and falafels. Other than a few chips and the cake & ice cream, of course, I’m not certain the kids even tasted the food. Also served with the cake & ice cream were crushed Pecan Sandies (to simulate sand).

Dragon Theme Birthday Party ~ Another Success

Several weeks before his birthday, I showed Buddy the Wilton Yearbook and asked him to select a cake (and thereby a theme) for his party. My assumption was that he would select Diego or Lightening McQueen from Cars and that I would thereafter purchase the specified pan … a relatively simple undertaking. However, the cake he selected was 3-dimensional and required both fondant and buttercream icing. Substantially more involved than I would have liked. I certainly couldn’t refuse, however. So, Dragons it is …

Dragon Theme Birthday Party

I spent some time researching ideas on the internet… games to play, foods to make, unique treats for the goody bags. I found a very cute graphic online that I used on the invitation and on the goody bags.

GOODY BAGS

  • I found a candy mold with a dragon image so I made hard candied lollipops for each of the party guests (banana and orange flavored).
  • A Dragonology bookmark
  • A Fourth of July ‘popper’ (more left over fireworks from the summer)
  • A scratch-off ticket I designed whereby all tickets were winners. The kids exchanged their winning tickets for a mini dragonology figurine which I discovered on Clearance at Fred Meyer. This was a huge hit!!

ACTIVITIES & GAMES

  • Egg Carton Dragon Craft

Before the party, I cut purple egg carton cups down the middle, into long, 6-cup, rows. I hot-glued google eyes onto plastic easter eggs for the heads and DH drilled two small holes into the back end. Finally, I cut green pipe cleaners into small lengths. When the kids arrived they poked a piece of pipe cleaner into the back of the head and twisted it through the hole in the egg carton to attach it. They then decorated the body with glitter glue and sequins and stuck a red feather into the mouth for fire.

  • Dragon-Foot Relay

Before the party, I cut four claw-foot shapes from cardboard. Divide your guests into two equal lines and give the first person in each line two feet. These feet become the only thing they can step on as they travel from the front of the line, around a chair, and back to the start. Begin with the first two players placing one of their claw-feet on the ground and stepping on it; then, they place the other foot on the ground and step on it. They continue this all the way around the course and then return to the line. When they reach the finish line, they hand the two feet to the next person. The relay continues until everyone has a turn. The team that completes the course first wins!

  • Dragon Tag

Basically, the kids line up and hold onto the waist of the child in front of them. The person in front is it and tries to tag its tail (the last child in the line). Once he succeeds, he moves to the end of the line. {We didn’t actually play this one as we were inside – certainly didn’t want anyone getting hurt or something getting broken.}

  • Dragon Egg Relay

Again, divide your guests into two equal lines and give each child a spoon. Each child has to carry a dragon egg on their spoon to the other side of the lawn and back again. If they dropped it, they could just pick it up. We used glittery easter eggs I found at a local party store.

  • Hunt for the Dragon’s Lair

I showed the children a page from Dragonology that describes how dragons hoard treasure in their lairs. I had made up a treasure map before the party, and told them that an old dragon-hunter had given it to me. The map wasn’t very specific, and as most of the children can’t read yet, I embellished our hunt orally as we went along. I wanted to make sure that the children weren’t scared. As we followed the map, we found dragon scales in the desert (small abalone shells in the sand box), and a few jewels that the dragon dropped along the way (plastic treasure jewels). We knew that we were getting near the lair when we found all the baby dragons out playing (small plush dragons). Inside, the kids found the dragon’s treasure: more jewels, chocolate gold coins, and Mardi Gras necklaces. I think that this was the best part of the party in the children’s eyes. They LOVED the treasure hunt! The kids put everything that they found in the dragon’s lair into their goody bags.

THE CAKE

I am generally pretty critical of my creative endeavors, but I was very pleased with how the cake turned out. Certainly room yet for improvement but I actually enjoyed making this one and I didn’t stress out about it! Everything came into place in time. Buddy loved it! Looking at the pictures now, I am actually surprised how similar the cake and invitation/goody bag graphic are… the cake just needed wings!

In the end, the guests enjoyed the games and my little man was all smiles.  The dragon theme birthday party was a roaring success. 

Chinese New Year Party

Although we had finished our unit study of China, Sweetie wanted to have a Chinese New Year Party to commemorate her studies. We thereby left all her ‘China’ projects out for display and hung paper lanterns for decorations. We invited the neighborhood kids to join us in the celebration. Unfortunately, most came down with a bug and were unable to come to the party. It was therefore a small but very relaxed atmosphere.

newyear2009When the party guests arrived, Sweetie greeted them at the door with “Ni hao”, dressed in her Mulan costume from Halloween ’06. The kids then got started on a couple of craft projects: a paper kite (the Chinese were the first to fly kites) and paper lanterns just like those that hung from the ceiling. I was very pleased that everyone enjoyed the activities and worked well together. Buddy was the only one who wasn’t interested in crafting, instead he took a few photographs and wandered about visiting with his friends.

When the kids finished their projects, they gathered in the living room and watched an episode of Sagwa that I had recorded the day before. My kids love Sagwa! I had tried to get the book from the library (I had checked it out previously) but when we checked on Monday, not a single book about China or the Chinese New Year was available.

While they were engaged in the story, I finished preparing our afternoon snack: pot stickers, egg rolls, and BBQ pork. I encouraged everyone to at least try everything but ensured them that they didn’t have to eat it if they didn’t like it. The BBQ pork was a big hit – the egg rolls, less so.

Following our meal, we ventured to the front yard and enjoyed a dozen or so fireworks that I had left over from the 4th of July (we didn’t get the opportunity to use them in the summer – too dry). This was by far the highlight of the afternoon.

When the kids departed, I gave each a Chinese to-go container with shredded metallic red paper, a fortune cookie, a small firework, chopsticks, a pencil and a Valentine chocolate heart (I had them handy!). The treat boxes were adorable and the kids loved them! Another party success!