Friday, May 18, 2012

Woodland Birthday Party: The Activities

Our Woodland party started off with a calm activity that children could join as they arrived. Along with their snacks, we set up a table full of Playmobil forest animals and trees. I printed several coloring pages with the Woodland theme (found them on the Internet) and asked each guest to color a tree with his or her name on it.

We used the decorated trees on the birthday cake table so that everyone knew where to sit. It was also handy to have a designated 'home place' so that throughout the party, each child could put his or her cup/hat/etc. on or under his or her chair. That made things easy when parents came for pick-up!

One thing my son really wanted to do with this party was a gardening activity.  I found mini gnomes at JoAnn Fabrics and garden signs at Michael's Craft Store.  We painted some of the signs with chalkboard paint.  Each child added contractor sand to the bottom of a tray, topped it with potting soil, and planted lots of rye grass seeds. This was a messy activity, so we did this in the garage.  Once the rye grass grows, the children can cut it with scissors (give that garden a hair cut!) and add other toys to the small garden.

Each child was given a hat and a tunic.  We used the hats as a place to pin treasures we found on our hunt! A garden gnome left clues around the property. The children found buttons, feathers, beads, and the small key charms that were hidden behind this tiny door!

The gnome's final clue lead the children to our basement where each found a bow and three arrows.  Now, you can imagine that I'd be crazy to let first graders loose with weapons, even seemingly benign plastic bows and arrows. But the children were so thrilled with this gift ("Can we really KEEP them???") that they were extremely respectful of our archery rules: take turns and only shoot the cups.  I had a few middle school kids helping me teach the children how to shoot the arrows, and the stairwell kept the arrows contained. It was a non-competitive game with children working together just to get some cups knocked down.  After a while, I allowed some children to also aim at a poster on our basement wall since it was delightful to see the suction cup arrows stick!

 [I got the archery sets from Rhode Island Trading Company. Each set came with a dagger, quiver, and target. I recycled the targets since they had pictures of cowboys-and-Indians; I don't mind each separately, but I'm not a big fan of glorifying that conflict. It didn't fit our theme anyway. My son wanted to do archery because he associates Woodlands with Wood Elves of the Lord of the Rings or Robin Hood genre.

I also threw out the daggers. The daggers were plastic, but sharp, and I couldn't imagine any good coming from handing those out to a bunch of little kids hyped up on cupcakes!]

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