Sunday, August 2, 2015

Planning Kids Parties

Planning Kids Parties has become one of my very favorite things to do.  I was just thinking the other day about how many kids parties I have planned and put on. It must be over 200! I had 4 kids and and 1 husband and they each had a Birthday Party every year till I cut the kids off at age 30. Plus I've taught young kids in school for 21 years. And we have about 5 parties a year. And I've been activities chairman in my church 3 times and president of the Stake Primary (children's organization). So in all the parties, I've learned a thing or two that might help somebody else in their planning. Here are a few of my ideas to keep it simple but fun.
Planning Kids Parties can be lots of fun if you keep it simple. Planning Kids Parties can be lots of fun if you keep it simple. Crafts using food are always a hit. HERE is a Frozen Party I did last year for my grandkids. It was a riot.

There is always the funny chaos that erupts when you have ten or more boys come over and do roudy  games. There is always a kid who cheats, always one who is uber competitive and starts to get mad when he is losing or not winning. There is always somebody who breaks something in your house. (word to the wise, have that party at a park or splash pad, or even Chuck E. Cheese or at a swimming pool if you can).

grandpa's party 005 Planning kids parties can be as simple as reserving a space at a city pool or splash pad and having cake and ice cream. Or you can get more creative!

I always made the mistake of stressing out over being sure my entire house was perfectly clean before the party began. I would work for days like a dog scubbing toilets, floors, making up the rooms so they all looked good, vacuuming every square inch of carpet and planning and baking a really darling cake to go with the themed invitations and party take-home bags. It was so exhausting, I don't know how I had energy to run all those games, pinatas and crafts!
school supplies 025 Look at how pretty pops of colors in linens and little striped straws add to the refreshment table. You can always do a solid color on the tables and add another color with your plates and cups.

And then when everybody's parents came to pick their kids up at the end of the party, the house looked like a bomb had exploded in it. I was always so embarrased thinking "what are they thinking of my messy house!" I was waaaaaay too worried about stuff like that. NEVER clean your house before the party. Clean it up AFTER the party. Because, guess what? It's going to be a total mess.
IMG_9899 Bubbles are a good sponge activity when kids first get to the party, or they are also a simple party favor to take home. And they can help decorate your party table too with the bright colors!

I had  24 little 5 year-old kinders in my class this year. And 19 of them were boys. I can tell you who makes my classroom messy for the most part. It is those 19 little boisterous boys who just destroyed the center games each and every day. I would have to go search to find a missing puzzle piece to a puzzle or pick up the plastic dollar store bugs and find the lost magnifying glasses at the science center daily! And the magnet center would have the letters and numbers mixed up no matter how many times I lecture to the kids to keep them in the separate bins.

Pirate Party Refreshment Table Notice the pirate banner, cardboard parrots, red striped napkins, pirate bandanas and linens and skeleton heads. Fun Party Refreshment Table. Check out more from this party HERE. 

Little kids make messes. And the littler the party guest, the more they forget their etiquette and training when they walk in your front door. All their manners get forgotten for the most part because if little Johnny next door is standing on his chair and throwing his jelly beans into little Suzy's glass of lemonade, they all start standing on chairs throwing jelly beans too.

This was such a fun activity for the kids; face painting using stencils and glittery glue made it SO EASY. You can buy the kits on Amazon.
Glitter Stencils kits are fun for Kids Parties. Glitter Stencils kits are fun for Kids Parties. You just stick on a stencil, dab on some glue and then use a paintbrush and dab on glitter. Then remove the stencil and you have a cool face painted glittery butterfly or flower.

Parents are always surprised by this follow the leader fun. But it happens in my classroom on a daily basis. I find myself saying that dumb analogy "If your friend jumped off of a cliff would you copy him doing that silly thing too? I don't know why I do that. They always look at me blankly.

Another favorite for a party is my stuffed potato skins. Everybody loves them. Even kids! Another favorite for a party is my stuffed potato skins. Everybody loves them. Even kids!

party-022 My two little granddaughters at my Halloween Party one year. We were all dressed up as ladybugs (and bees.)

I loved having everybody sing happy birthday to my kids. It was a moment where they had all the attention of everybody important to them in their lives. I think that it is a great tradition. I'd do it all over again because a birthday party makes you feel special. I still remember my 9th birthday party. I had 9 girls come over for cake, games and crafts. And I still have the little ceramic girl holding a 9 that one of my guests brought me for a present. Then my mom let 1 of my best friends sleep over that night after dinner. It was such a fun and memorable day.

Valentines-field-trip-eagles-017 Making bead bracelets is always easy. Get pony beads from the craft store and chenille stems (pipe cleaners). Kids lace the beads on the pipe cleaners, twist at the ends and cut them to fit their wrist. Easy Peasy! Get the colors of your theme. You can tell this is a Valentines theme party.I love making Valentines Sugar Cookies with my family AND my classroom kiddos. I love making Valentines Sugar Cookies with my family AND my classroom kiddos. Use this idea to decorate cookies on St. Patrick's Day, Super Bowl Sunday, or for any kid's birthday party. If you have candy to top it with, you will be a complete success with kids.

There are always those parents who drop their kid off at your party and don't return on time. They use you as a free babysitter and go get their hair done and return an hour late. I did that once when we were babysitting my daughter's girls for a week. I just needed some errands run without kids so I did use her friend for babysitting. I apologized later. And I know how it is. But it is still hard when you are the party hostess and you are so burned out and tired and there are still 2 little boys running around your house when the party was over an hour ago.

Red White and Blue Day. Have a great time with family! How fun would making snowcones or cotton candy be at a birthday or family party? Lots of fun and so easy too. Just rent the machines for around $75.00 for a few hours.

Anyway, here are my ideas to make a really fun party and not get too overwhelmed. I've taught kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades for 21 years so I've done a TON of kids parties.

We played Pin the Tail on the Bunny. It was so sweet to watch. And there was no peeking! Amazing! We played Pin the Tail on the Bunny. It was so sweet to watch. And there was no peeking! Amazing! We have also played Pin the Gold on the Leprechaun, Pin the Nose on Olaf, Pin the tail on the Goat, for a big kid turning 30 (my son thinks goats are really funny)  and Bunny for Easter themed party.

Get some cute invitations from the party store. Invite no more than 12 kids. There will always be a few who can't come and although 8 is a perfect number, (don't all the party supplies come in a group of 8?) but 3 is a dud. (we've had a few of those too). So call and remind people the day before and to see who is coming. You can always invite cousins or an auntie or somebody else too. We (the grandparents) always get invited to the grandkiddie parties. It is a lot of fun, and we can help with the little brothers and sisters still in diapers. I give out invitations with only 1 1/2 hours for each party. If it is 2 hours everybody starts to get cranky, including YOU!

june 2015 079.CR2 Lots of times you can find printable games online to use at your themed kid's party. This one was for my grandkids to play Tic Tac Toe on the 4th of July. This would be a perfect activity when people first arrive.

When Kids Arrive - Have a sponge activity when everybody gets there. Have a craft to do, or a physical game to play like duck duck goose, or just a swingset or a coloring page with colors or bouncy house.

Pin the Nose on Olaf game I made last year for a school and grandkid's Frozen Party.
Pin the Nose on Olaf game I made last year for a school and grandkid's Frozen Party.

 At one party my daughter had them all do a foam visor with their name on it as soon as they arrived. Then later she had another more involved craft. The visor just had stickers. Kids love making hats of any kind. That is always a great sponge activity that takes up time till everyone arrives. Magnetic Match game using Dollar Store magnets would be fun. Just use cookie sheets to play. A good before everybody gets there activity can be Magnets  using Dollar Store magnets and  cookie sheets to play.

Party Games - Have 2 activities. One can be a noisy one (pinata, pop the balloons, scavenger hunt, bean bag toss etc., and one a quiet one that takes longer (bingo game, craft, decorate a cookie, pin the tail on the theme animal, etc. Here are a list of my favorites.
  • 1. Pin the Tail on the Donkey (bunny, elf, pirate patch, nose on the snowman or Olaf)
  • 2. Bean Bag Toss into a cardboard theme character with holes.
  • 3. Decorate a cookie or cupcake.
  • 4. Make a necklace, hat or bracelet with beads or stickers or foam of some kind.
  • 5. Bingo game on a theme of some sort.
  • 6. Hot Potato  (use a stuffed pumpkin, or heart, or snowman, any soft stuffed animal can become the potato).
  • 7. Musical Chairs or Fruit Basket.
  • 8. Pinata or Treasure Hunt
  • 9. Bowling using a tennis ball and paper cups with pictures on them.
  • 10. Face Painting using stencils and glitter glue.
halloween get together 087 Filling clear cookie jars with candies and colored ornaments is always great to add to the refreshment tables and it is easy decor.
Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss my hubs made for us to play in my classroom Halloween party. Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss my hubs made for us out of plywood that we spray painted orange. We get to play with it every year at  my classroom Halloween party.

Gardner-Village-023 Kids love to make crafts. Try making some kind of insect out of paper and stickers at your next party. Then tape it onto a stick and watch the kids have fun with it. You won't be disappointed! Check these out HERE.Buccaneer Bingo Sight Words Game. This was a fun center. Buccaneer Bingo Sight Words Game. This was a fun center. Check out the Pirate Party for more ideas.
  • Foods - It's fun to then plan some simple foods for the kids to eat. Most kids like Pizza or hot dogs or mac and cheese if you are serving lunch or dinner. If adults are there you can add some chicken salad sandwiches on rolls. I have used these for family celebrations, wedding receptions even. Everybody loves a little chicken salad sandwich with almond slices and grapes.
  • veggies and dip Pretty white platters to put your fruits and veggies on work well. Try a few that are 2 tiered for a nice spread.
  • Add cookies or donuts, 2 kinds of chips, fresh fruits cut up or on skewers or veggies and dip. Then you can have the birthday cake at the very end of the party after the presents have been opened. Use linens or fabric to give a pop to your refreshment tables. This black and white fabric I've used for lots of parties. Polka dot is also a real popular generic linen choice.
  • wedding
  • I've used these cookie jars with inserted scrapbook paper to match my colors or theme for years. They look equally cute with Cat in the Hat papers or Pirate or Superhero themed papers filled with cookies or treats. Then add a sticker to the jar. Just be sure to also add a half sheet of waxed paper around the interior of the jar between the scrapbook paper and cookies so you don't get the oily marks on your scrapbook papers. Top with colorful ribbon to match your theme colors. These I did for my son's wedding reception a few years back. But I've done them also for other parties and baby showers.
    Little kids always love cupcakes at parties. You could do cupcakes instead of a cake.

       Halloween Party ghoulish cupcakes and skeleton brownies. Kids will eat em up! Check out how I made them HERE.Caramel Dipping Sauce Granny Smith and Honeycrisp Apples with Homemade Caramel Dipping Sauce - great for a party anytime! And so easy and healthy too!
  • I usually serve 2 liter bottles of pop with papers printed out to tape over them with a themed message. Then I have paper cups, plates in the party colors. I use banners, balloons, tissue paper puff balls, and party store cardboard cut outs all over the place for decor.
Cute little Palm Trees with beanie baby monkeys attached (also the take home gift). My granddaughter's mom made these Cute little Palm Trees with beanie baby monkeys attached (also the take home gift)Here are the cute little rainforest monkeys that the kids got to take home for a party favor. Here are the cute little rainforest monkeys that the kids got to take home for a party favor.
  • My daughter in law made these cute little palm trees with brown paper rolls for the trunk and green paper cut out leaves with little stuffed monkeys attached (the party favor) to them. They were really sweet decorations. The napkins are usually pretty and special and make the themed table looks really cute. I spend extra to get real cute napkins. Then my plates and cups are usually solid color to save a few bucks.

  • Bridal Shower Refreshment table for a summer party can be just bars and cakes and fresh fruits. Super easy! Notice the  orange and  hot pink linens and flowers make the decor look bright and fresh.

  • Goodie Bags - I always like to send home a goodie bag with some little candies and toys inside. I usually fill it with a balloon, some clay or bubbles, a whistle, lollypops, pixie stix and individual candies like taffy, Jolly Ranchers or chocolate kisses. Then I tie them with a ribbon. If it is for my class I usually add a pencil and an eraser of some sort. Sometimes I find theme toys to go with the holiday if it is a holiday type party.
Delicious fresh summer fruits on a skewer really can't be beat for any summer celebration too. They looks so much fancier on wooden skewers too, and kids can help make them! Delicious fresh summer fruits on a skewer really can't be beat for any summer celebration too. They looks so much fancier on wooden skewers too, and kids can help make them!


I have had to learn the hard way that kids will open and eat, or worse, spill the contents of the bag and then want another one. Somebody always loses theirs somewhere in your house if you give them out early, and then you run out because they come and take another one. Even in my classroom the goody bag goes in the backpack and they are not allowed to open it till they get home or in their parent's car.  It is nuts when you have a kid who not only opens his and eats up all the stuff but gets chocolate mess all over himself and everything he has touched, and then leaves a mess under his desk, on his desk and all the candy wrappers everywhere for you to clean up! Word to the wise. Pirate Party "Loot" bags were a hit.

Pirate Party "Loot" bags were a big  hit with my kindergarteners this year at our end of year Pirate Party.

Have a boatload of fun at your next kids party all you whipper snappers. Argh Mateys!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dr. Seuss Decorating

This year at our school the theme decided by the principal is "OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!" by Dr. Seuss. I decided I would designate one of the walls of my classroom to the theme.
Dr. Seuss Decorating with Fun Bags, Paper Cut Outs, and some first day Pencils and Erasers! Won't the kids LOVE em? 

I went over to Target the other day with my daughter and grandkiddos and what do you know? There is a big bunch of fun stuff over in the dollar section that has lots of Dr. Seuss and lots of Disney products for teachers.

I found a boatload of stuff. Lookee What I got!!
I loved these cardboard Dr. Seuss Decorating Posters. They're about 9 x 13 size. 

I'm going to use these 4 clocks to give the time when school starts and ends, and when recess and lunch are. This will help the kids to learn to tell time, and will reduce the number of times they ask me when lunch is. That is one of the hardest things about 1st grade. They are not used to staying the whole day.
Foam Clocks to use for Telling the Time of Day (School Start time, Recess, Lunch, Dismiss) for my Dr. Seuss Decorating. 

I also got these cute erasers. I don't know what I will do with them yet. Maybe I'll give them out in a little baggie with candy and a pencil on Back to School night. They also had Dr. Seuss Pencils. Target also had banners and cute clip art items with Dr. Seuss characters on them. I will use this on my bulletin board that says "Oh the Places You'll Go!".
Dr. Seuss Pencils and Erasers from the Target dollar bins. 
I don't know what I'll do with these cute Cat in the Hat decorations, but I couldn't resist them. 

The cute Cat in the Hats are a border. But I thought I could cut them apart and add the kids pictures underneath with a blue wig like they are Thing 1 and 2. That would be super cute to use to vote in my Graph a Week chart. The light up balls were only $3.00 but they probably won't work lit up for long. I'll just string them across some area of the classroom that needs a little "POP" of color!
My Weekly Graph has a different question each week and as the kids walk in on Monday they vote for what they like. Then later at math time we talk about it using math terms such as "greater than, less, more, equal, least greatest" and kids get used to that vocabulary. 

Last year for the Graph a Week chart we used these little people icons. This year I'll use the Dr. Seuss hats and add the kids' pictures in blue wigs. That will be cute. 

 I got a few games too. I'll use these for centers. The back of the ABC flashcards I'll use another way. They have cute pictures (in the Dr. Seuss tradition) and words under the pictures. I'll put these in a pocket chart at the writing center. I've wanted to have a cute word bank of some sort over there but didn't want to use up all my color printer ink. This is a very cheap way to go!
Telling Time Dr. Seuss Games and numbers and letters too. A darling aqua blue pocket chart will be great for schedule or center activities listings. Most of these were $1.00! What a steal! 

Here are a few Dr. Seuss freebies that I will use to decorate my classroom wall this year. HERE is a cute Triangle Dr. Seuss banner to print out with red and blue designs on all the triangle shaped banner pieces. It is really cute from from the Carefree Classroom.  HERE is a hall pass and some other cute things from Julia Rother. Thanks guys! Now I just need to get into my classroom and start decorating!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Butterfly Activities Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Books we made for Butterfly Week. 
We made Hungry Caterpillar books in my classroom. They turned out so cute. The kids were pretty good about drawing items for the caterpillar to eat around the holes I had punched in their little books.
Butterfly Activities and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fun. 

We read the Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar first. Then we talked about all the things we could have OUR OWN caterpillar eat. We made a big list on the white board of our brainstorm. Then I drew a little picture next to each of the words so the kids could read, write it, and copy the easy picture to color.

Then we went to work on our books. They had already been previously made up by ME the day before. Then I punched out all the holes. You could also have a mom helper do it but it is kind of complicated. I've just found it easier to do it myself.
After we drew and colored what the Very Hungry Caterpillar ate, we glued one on each page. They were so tiny and cute! 

Luckily Bennett had the stuffed animal of the caterpillar from Kohls. I had left mine at home. So he brought it in so we could use it as a visual aid. Fun! A cute Dot to Dot Butterfly art is HERE at Activity Village.
Stuffed Very Hungry Caterpillar puppet. 

Then we did a bunch of Caterpillar and Butterfly activities. Here are a few.
A cute VOCABULARY list with cute visuals you can print out is HERE. It was a great center activity for the pocket chart and some HAND pointers too. A roll and cover game was HERE at TPT.

Last year at recess I passed out these "find a bug" jars and kids LOVED them. They fought over doing this activity for 2 weeks. In never got old. This is science at its best. Little scientists observing nature. 

A cute SONG to sing about Caterpillars is here.

POETRY or MUSIC (Sing to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider)

A little, green caterpillar crawling on a leaf,

Spun a little chrysalis, and fell fast asleep.

While she was sleeping, She dreamed that she could fly.

 And later when she woke up, she was a BUTTERFLY!


Graphing- What is your favorite bug? Butterflies? Honeybees? Grasshoppers?Dragonfly? Ladybugs? These were our top 5 we voted on. Guess which one was the winner?

We do a weekly graph where I ask the kids a question and they vote from 5 choices. 

Here is our "What is Your Favorite Insect" Vote. It looks like dragonflies won. 
We also did an estimation jar with plastic Dollar Store insects inside. That is always a fun math activity.


Do a life cycle of a butterfly. A link for a black line page of the 4 stages of a Butterfly can be found Here at Digital  They have lots of games, a podcast and another video of a butterfly pupa stage. You can also buy the butterfly larva at Carolina Biological Supply for about $15.00. The link is Here for Carolina Biological Supply. I usually don't send away for them until Springtime. A cute wheel life cycle is HERE on TPT. You can get the butterfly garden below from EAI Education  for $15 bucks. 

Butterfly Garden is a great science Activity and it usually comes with a certificate for free Butterfly Larva. This is how I ordered mine the first time. I've put butterfly, praying mantis and ladybug larva in here before. Once the praying mantis got out through a hold overnight and they were all over the kids' desks in the morning. It was funny. Buy it HERE at Insect Lore for about $15 bucks. 

 P.E. "Bug Garden".  Have students sit in chairs in a big circle. This game is like FRUIT BASKET. One student is in the middle without a chair. I'm usually the first one as I have to teach the game. Go around the circle of chairs and give students names;1 ladybug, 2 dragonfly, 3 butterfly, 4 honeybee.  Then start over going around till all are named. 

Then tell the caller to call out an insect name. (bees) All the bees must jump up and fly to another chair. Everyone else stays sitting and just watches. It is FUN to watch, believe me! Nobody who was a bee can stay in the same chair. The caller grabs one of the chairs and sits during the commotion. The one who is leftover  with no chair is the new caller. Then one fun part of the game is if the caller says "Fly Away Bugs!" then all the bugs get up and trade places. Last one to find a seat is the new caller! I do this for a Halloween party, a Valentine  or Christmas party too. Just name the kids theme names for the holiday (skeleton, ghost, bat, witch for Halloween, and for Christmas; stars, candy canes, ornaments, trees,  etc. 

We had a great time doing Butterfly Week! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Brown Bear Brown Bear Teddy Bear Picnic

Here the kids are getting all ready to run over to the bounce houses on field day on the last day of school. There was also a giant parachute we played with. 
It is the last week of school and the end of my year teaching kindergarten. I have loved it. It is like trying to keep a lid on popping popcorn!! Yup. I wasn't that successful at keeping the lid on, but we had a lot of fun every day!

This is the little Patriotic Bear I painted and put on a wreath on my front door. I added a little flag and some stars and flowers too. 
I love the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is perfect for Kindergarten. They know most of their color words and can read the simple text from the story since it is so repetitive.
These were the 3 funny 6th grade teachers who dressed up all in the 50s for the dance festival the last day of school. haha. They looks so cute. Our class danced to Ball in the Jack. We rocked it! 

So for the Teddy Bear Picnic that I usually have at the end of the year we will do some Brown Bear Activities. Here are a few I came up with that are lots of fun.
We went into the gym and watched a Disney movie and ate popcorn after field day. FUN! 

1. ART - MAKE A BEAR WITH MOVEABLE ARMS AND LEGS or just a Bear HAT- We are only using the head this year to make a hat. It is HERE. The arms and legs if you want a jointed bear are on this page HERE at Virtual Vine along with a gazillion other great resources. Look under the quilt for 3 printable body parts. It turns out cute but takes a while for the kids to color. Or make a Bear Hat. Use a Bear coloring page and just use the head and a brown strip of construction paper to go around heads.
We made this Brown Bear only we didn't make it into a hat. We made Bear puppets on a stick instead. But we've made these in past years. HERE is a cute art bear from Girl Scouts of USA.
2. SHARED READING - Read the Book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Make a necklace after coloring all the brown bear characters. Add pony beads in between each character on yarn for a cool and colorful Brown Bear Necklace. Perfect art activity for kindergarten. Free printable is HERE. Or you could make a fruit look necklace and add the characters in between several fruit loops. That's fun too.
Read the book together with the Youtube of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? It is a cute one.

3. PHONICS - Matching Center "Rhyme Time" Activity after reading the book Bear Says Thanks. HERE. There is also a writing activity and a cut and paste freebie. A cute mini books for $3.00 is HERE at TPT.  A free version is HERE at TPT. Thanks gals!
There are always activities you can do with addition and subtraction using counter bears and a number line. 
4. MATH - Fun Brown Bear "counting the characters" cut and paste math activity great for kindergarten. It is a freebie on TPT HERE.
Holding our Teddy Bear Puppets and puzzles. 

5. PICTURES - Take a picture with your Teddy Bear. I also found a picture
frame to color and put a picture inside with the bear hats and their teddy bears they brought for the read-a-thon.  It is cute. Check it out HERE.

You can always do a Bear art project using lots of brads and brown paper. We didn't have a lot of time so we made bear heads on a stick (puppets) instead. They were cute. 
This is my little patriotic bear and Uncle Sam on my entryway table. I've got all my red, white and blue stuff out for July. I got the little stars and stripes (the red and white one is to the right but you can't see it in this pic) buckets from the Dollar Tree. 
6. Read-a-Thon with Bear books. After doing all of our BEAR activities we will do a read-a-thon with our Teddy Bears we've brought from home. Then we will have a picnic with hot dogs, root beer floats, chips and gummy bears of course. Then we will go outside and draw bears with sidewalk chalk. It should be a very fun Teddy Bear Picnic this year.
Here's the hubs and I at Yellowstone visiting one of the fun gift shops in Jackson Hole. We usually go to our cabin at Bear Lake the weekend I'm off of school to unwind. And we usually take a short tip up there or some town close by. 
7. Writing our own Brown Bear Brown Bear innovations. "I see a red fish (or Blue Bird) looking at me". OR....Each child can write about things that are brown. "Brown can be a bear, a hamburger, a chocolate bar and a coconut."  Brainstorm on the board a list of brown things for them to choose from. This is an especially good idea for ESL kids who need language experiences.
Field Day and Teddy Bear Picnic on the last day of school. 
We came back in the classroom after field day and ate hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks. It was fun to have a picnic with our Teddy Bears! Teddy Bear Picnics are the bomb! The last day of school was sure lots of fun. Have a great summer everybody!

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