Thursday, June 15, 2017

Unbirthday Party

I have been itching to do birthday party type stuff with the kids at work for a while and, finally, one week ago, I got the chance the host an Unbirthday Party!

First: Set up. I needed to accommodate a lot of stuff in this program--a dance party, parachute play, a photobooth backdrop, two crafts, and a pretty elaborate snack table. Our program room is a decent size but certainly not huge by any stretch of the imagination, so this required some planning. I wound up putting out crafts for 15 kids (5 kids each at 3 tables) with the tables shaped like an L, plus some extra chairs around the room for the grown ups. This left a big square of open space for a (somewhat tightly packed) dance/parachute party.

On the snack table, I put out, most importantly, our unbirthday cake! Also out were water bottles, happy birthday napkins, dessert plates, and pre-poured snacks (Goldfish crackers, Goldfish pretzels, and chocolate covered pretzels) for me to bring around to the tables at snack time. The craft tables (covered in these table clothes from Oriental Trading) were set with everything for our two crafts: Decorate-your-own party hat and color-your-own pinwheel. More on these later.

Like I said, this program had lots of different parts to it. We started with the dance party, which lead into the parachute play. This was my favorite part of the program and was probably the kids' favorite also. Plus it was SO easy! I just did all my favorite Musical Kids stuff! Like MEGA Musical Kids, except a little shorter (about 20-minutes).

Starting with the dance party portion of the evening was a smart move (if I do say so myself) because it helped to accomplish exactly what I'd hoped it would accomplish: a fun party vibe. When the kids entered the room, the very first thing they did was let loose and be silly. One girl even had to change into her dancing shoes.

Here's my playlist (red = ipodblue = sing):

Jumping & Counting by Jim Gill
I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner (shakers)
We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner (drums)
Toast in the Toaster (parachute + balloons)
Slow and Fast by Hap Palmer (parachute + balloons)
Wheels on the Bus (parachute + balloons)
Hula Hula Baby by The Wiggles (parachute + balloons + bubbles)
The Balloon Game by Music for Little People Choir (balloons + bubbles)

(For more on this, I discuss these songs a lot in my various Musial Kids posts.)

The balloons are what made this dance party special and different from just an ordinary week of Musical Kids (I used these from Oriental Trading, but any would be fine). The kids loved tossing and bouncing the balloons all over the room, even after they were done with their craft and snack. Sidenote: A balloon party would be a great program all on its own! Too bad I totally despise blowing up balloons.

After the dance party, it was time for the crafts: Decorate-your-own party hat and color-your-own pinwheel. Everything was out and I told the kids they could do the crafts in either order.

I took a cue from my Disney Princess Tea Party and kept the crafts free of super messy stuff like paint and glue, since the evening's events included eating. For the party hat decorating, I started with these party hats from Oriental Trading because they were simple, shiny, and good quality. Then I let the kids decorate them with these Rainbow Self-Adhesive Letter stickers from Oriental Trading and these Self-Adhesive Shapes, also from Oriental Trading. It was fun, but quick. Here are two of the finished products:

The other craft, color-your-own pinwheel (using this kit from Oriental Trading) was less successful. It was just wayyyy too complicated for this age group. In fact, it was even kind of complicated for me! First, the folding was sooo tricky! I wound up having to fold pretty much every kid in the class's pinwheel. Second, there were just way too many small parts for kids ages 3-5, including one itty-bitty, pencil-eraser-size cap per pinwheel that wound up just rolling off the table and getting lost in the abyss. So, the pinwheels, unfortunately, were kind of a dud (although probably would be nice for older children who could handle the folding and small pieces with less assistance).

That being said, each kid still colored, assembled, and took home a pinwheel (with help from an adult).

And no worries about any of that anyway because it quickly became time for...(drum roll, please)... unbirthday cake!

I had everyone gather around the cake (as seen above) and sing: Happy Unbirthday To You/Happy Unbirthday To You/Happy Unbirthday Dear Everyone/Happy Unbirthday To You. Then one little girl told me it was almost her brother's birthday so we also sang Happy Birthday to him too. Then I had everyone pretend to blow out birthday candles and it was time for snacks!

This was the best and most orderly food-serving I ever did in a program. I had a page cut little pieces of cake, while I passed around the plates, napkins, and water bottles. Then I gave each table one bowl of pre-poured Goldfish crackers, one bowl of pre-poured Goldfish pretzels, and one bowl of pre-poured chocolate covered pretzels. A minute later, our page started passing out the cake!

Everyone really had fun feasting and finishing up their crafts. I enjoyed seeing everyone wearing their party hats while they ate (seen above). It really seemed like a party!

Like every program I have ever done that involves balloons, the night wrapped up with just a lot of kids bouncing and throwing balloons around the room. You can't go wrong with this. Then I took a few pictures in front of the back drop (this one, also courtesy of Oriental Trading), and we all said goodnight!

What worked least: The pinwheel craft. It was just too complicated and had too many small parts.

What worked best: The dance party and balloons. Like Musical Kids and all my Toddler Dance Parties of the past, this is just a really simple, no-fail program that kids love. And the balloons too. They are so simple and so well-loved. Like they say, if it aint broken, don't fix it.

A big, giant thank you to Oriental Trading for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

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