Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parties on my mind

So, I've been thinking about Boy number One's upcoming birthday party. It's not until May, but we both love going all out for birthdays. Last year, silly me, I thought about half his class would accept the invite. But, no, everyone came. So, I realize that I need to think this through early this year. We are have a Star Wars theme. But last year it was a Science Party. What follows is the post I put on my other "family updates" type blog.

There are science party ideas out there, but they focus on images of chemistry or biology. Being married to a physicist, I, of course, scoffed at this. But really what is a common physics image? So for Boy One's invites I focused on the number 6 (since that's how old he was turning). I simply made a postcard featuring the number six in orange and using a "tech" font and a simpler font wrote: BoyOne is turning six, he's having a science party, and you're invited. Then I included the details of when and where. I used blue text. On the boarder I wrote in green: It's an Experimentation Celebration! I printed them on an inkjet printer on glossy photo paper (4 to a sheet), cut them apart and passed them out at school. But you could actually send them through US Post as a postcard, just fill out the addresses and stamp on the back side.

We did the baking soda and vinegar "volcanoes" as the kids arrived. We also did "Milky Fireworks" which is just whole milk with drops of food coloring on a plate. If you take a Q-tip dipped in dish soap and touch it to the center of the food coloring it bursts out like a firework. Once the kids had arrived, we gathered them together and Matt did some science demos. Things with fire, and shooting, you know, stuff we wouldn't want the kids to actually do themselves yet.

The next part of the party was set up in centers that they rotate between in small groups. One station was "Toothpick Towers." They were given toothpicks, cheese balls, gummi bears, and mini marshmallows and had to experiment with what worked best to build the tallest, most stable tower that they could build. The second station was all about balance, specifically "Throw Your Weight Around" which was about how we adjust our bodies to move without realizing it. They stood with one side pressed against a wall and had to try to pick up the outside leg. And go try it; you won't be able to because to pick up your leg you have to be able to shift your weight. They also did "Balancing Sticks" where they had to predict which was easier to balance, a short stick or a long one. Then they had to test it out to discover the long stick gives more time to make adjustments.

Then they went to "Super Slime" and made slime using the borax-glue recipe. This slime was then bagged up and put into their goody bags so they could take it home. Next was "Float My Boat" where they had a 6 in. square piece of aluminum foil that they had to form into a boat and predict how many pennies their boat could hold before sinking. After making predictions, they tried out their boats by adding pennies and counting up until it sank. They got to take home their boats in their goody bags too.

The last station was "Potato Launchers." With this station they had a lever that was marked in increments. They chose which number to place the fulcrum under. Placed a potato on one end and stomped on the other to see how far the potato would fly. As they took turns they were able to discover that when the fulcrum was farther from the potato, the potato flew farther. This was a big hit, but you have to be careful with it because it can get out of control easier. If you do this with kids, make sure you have a strong adult leader to keep everyone safe.

After that we had cake and other food. There are different science cake ideas. Cakes shaped like beakers, volcanoes, bugs. But again with the lean towards physics, so we opted to shape Gabe's cake into a number six. He wanted an ice cream cake anyway. So, I drew my six on a piece of sturdy cardboard, cut it out with an Xacto knife and covered it with foil. Then I molded foil walls, several inches high all around the number form. I used tape on the outside to keep them in place. I bought one of the big tubs of vanilla ice cream and left it out until it softened. Meanwhile I crushed a box of Graham crackers and mixed it with melted butter. I pressed this into the form to make the crust. Then I drizzled it with hot fudge. I didn't completely coat the crust.Then I crushed 8 mini Butterfingers. When the ice cream was soft, I used a large bowl and mixed in the Butterfinger. This was spread evenly on the fudge-drizzled crust. At this point, I had to put the cake into the freezer (and adjusted the freezer to coldest setting) for several hours. When the cake was solid, I pulled off the sides, situated the six on a larger platter and frosted it with thawed Cool Whip (Cool Whip is happy to be frozen and thawed, so it's a good frosting choice for ice cream cakes), and sprinkled with more Butterfinger. Then I popped it back into the freezer until the party. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone took a picture, so you'll have to use your imagination.

In the goody bags along with the slime and boats they made, they each got a Science booklet that detailed the experiments and why things worked the way they did. I included a list of science websites for kids on the back page. Then I included a pencil and a packet of Pop Rocks (because that is a "sciencey" sort of candy).

All in all we had a good time. Those who came had a good time. We were told by one parent that we had set the bar for birthday parties. But, you know what? It only takes a little planning to throw a creative party.

1 comment:

  1. I just watched what I assume is a rerun of the
    Dear Genivieve. The one you have a picture of above. The built in toddler bed.
    My concern was that the top of the bed was level with the windows. What were they thinking. The child could hit the window with a toy and get hurt (cut) or worse fall out the window.


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