Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘learning

THEME:  Our pioneer heritage

INVITATIONS:  Cut construction paper into shapes of covered wagons and write the messages on them.  Or, if you are hand-delivering the invitations, make miniature covered wagons from matchboxes, wire, tissue and cardboard.  Write the message on slips of paper which you fold up and place inside the wagon.  Ask guests to dress in pioneer garb, if possible.   This party could work for teens, young adults, adults, or families.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  At least two homemade “covered wagons” or handcarts (made from children’s red wagons or packing crates); guitar or harmonica player; copies of the lyrics to some old songs, such as “Oh, Susanna,” “Old Folks at Home,” “The Old Chisolm Trail,” “Home on the Range,” “All is Well,” etc.;  meadow with campfire area; logs for the fire; folding chairs; props and script for the melodrama.

FOOD:  At this party, you can choose to serve a full chuckwagon dinner or just some simple refreshments.  For the dinner, try to make it as authentic as possible.  For the main dish, try Wild Game Chili or Venison Stew.  If game meat doesn’t sit well with your group, use conventional beef.  Cook the dish at home but keep it warm over the campfire.  You could also try foil-pack dinners, cooked right in the coals.  To accompany the meal, serve Pioneer Crackers or baking powder biscuits.  Top off with Bachelor’s Pudding, mincemeat pie or homemade taffy.  Drink herb tea, or water from canteens.

            If you’re just rustling up some light refreshments, you won’t need so much authenticity.  In addition to the desserts mentioned above, you could have everyone roast marshmallows for s’mores or just by themselves.  If you prefer a saltier snack, beef jerky and fried pork rinds are possibilities.

DECORATIONS:  Only those that Nature provides are needed, but some outdoor lighting to supplement the campfire might be nice.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As guests arrive, you, the host, take them around and introduce them to the others, using quaint and rustic speech.  Then divide them into teams, one for each “prairie schooner” or handcart.  Lining up at a starting line, the guests run a relay where the team members must push or pull their team’s vehicle to a finish line and back, until all the team members have completed the “trek.”  The first team to do this wins the honor of being called “The Trailblazers.” 

            If you are serving dinner, then the guests now gather around the campfire and partake.  If not, pass out the lyrics to the old songs, and the guitarist or harmonica-player accompanies a sing-along.  Next, it is time for some Charades, using only pioneer words and names.  The last activity of the night is a pioneer melodrama.  You draft certain guests to play the starring roles, and the rest will act the important part of audience, complete with participation–heckling, cheering, booing, hissing and the like.  The participant who will be the narrator takes a moment to look over the script, while you prepare the other players with costumes and props.  When all is ready, the narrator begins and the actors and actresses follow his cues, improvising and ad libbing as inspiration strikes. 

            When the drama concludes, the guests settle down before the fire again to eat dessert (or other refreshments) before heading home.


Variations and Comments: You may wish to use some alternative activities, such as dancing the “Virginia Reel,” or playing old-fashioned games like Musical Chairs or Wink.  Another idea is to have the handcart teams take their vehicles on an obstacle course through the woods, where Indians (well-placed helpers) ambush them.  Time each team with a stopwatch, and give a prize of beef jerky to the team with the best time.  Or, eliminate the competitive element and take everyone on a trek fraught with dangers and difficulties, ending by “circling the wagons” around the campfire.  You could also interject a bit of real history to educate your guests a little!  There are loads of possibilities.

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     This is a fun party for preschoolers who are dying to go to school.  For them, school is fun.  After a child is in school, this might not be the theme to choose!

THEME:  School, Kindergarten

INVITATIONS:  On a simple folded invitation, you could paste a picture of an old-fashioned schoolhouse on the outside and have the inside be like a simple registration form–asking name, age and favorite color, for instance–as well as the necessary information for the party.  Ask the guest to bring his “registration form” with him.  Children could also be asked to bring anything they would like to “Show and Tell.”  This party is best for kids aged 3-5.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Small pieces of colored paper and pins for name tags, materials for each child to make a seasonal craft (see below), miscellaneous household items for counting, small papers containing letters of the alphabet, tape, small chairs and desk or small table, box of various musical instruments, story book, crown for birthday child, lively music, paper and crayons.

FOOD:  The birthday cake could be a “little red schoolhouse,” shaped as described below and decorated appropriately.  Neapolitan ice cream and milk or apple juice could complete the refreshments, but other snacks might include graham crackers and apple slices.



 Schoolhouse Cake:   Bake a 9×13 cake and cut it in half crosswise.  One square will form the “house.”  Cut the other square in half diagonally.  Put one triangle on the “house” to form the “roof.”  Cut a “bell-tower” or “chimney” from the remaining triangle.  “Glue” these pieces together with frosting.  Frost it all in red.   Decorate the roof with candy wafers, if desired.  Form windows and doors with strips of shoestring licorice.  Use strips of green spearmint leaf candies for leaves and stems and candy circles for flowers, pressing them into the frosting at the base of the house.  Press a miniature bell into the peak of the roof.  Place candles wherever desired.

DECORATIONS:  Try to make the party room look like a kindergarten school room.  Place posters of the alphabet, etc. on the walls and set up a blackboard or whiteboard, if possible.  Arrange the small chairs around a small table or in a circle.  Place the “teacher’s desk” at the front of the room and put up a small national flag.  If you let the children play outdoors for a short “recess,” have balls and any playground equipment possible set up outside.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:             As the children arrive, they turn in their “registration forms” to  a helper who greets them.  From the favorite color they listed on the form, the helper chooses the same color of name tag and writes the child’s name on it, pinning or taping it on them.  The helper then asks the children to take their places in the small chairs and wait for the teacher to come.  When all the guests are seated, you (the parent who is the “teacher”) come and greet them warmly, explain that they are pretending to be real kindergartners today, and help them count all the children in the circle.  Then you choose a leader to march with the flag, and the children “follow the leader,” marching around the room to a patriotic song.  You then help them pledge allegiance to the flag and replace it.

            Next, it is time for “Show and Tell.”  Children who brought items to show take turns describing their items (keeping them hidden) until someone can guess what they are.  Guests who did not bring an item but have some interesting news to tell about may also share that with the other students.

            After this, the children get busy on a little project, chosen to match the particular time of year.  For instance, if this party is given in September, near the start of school, the guests could put together a little schoolhouse by pasting previously cutout doors, windows and bell on a red cutout schoolhouse.  (Glue sticks are relatively tidy and would be better to use than glue or paste.)  Or, give each child a paper apple with a hole in it and a paper worm to put through the hole and paste in place.  When the crafts are finished, tell the students they may keep them to take home.


            Now it is time for some learning activities.  Set up the items for counting on your desk, then help the children learn to count them.  Depending on the guests’ interest and ability, you may demonstrate a little addition and subtraction by taking items away and replacing them again.

            After the counting activity, tape the alphabet papers on the edge of your desk and teach the children the alphabet song.  Then point to one of the items on your desk, pronounce the beginning sound, and ask if anyone can guess which letter the name of the item starts with.  The guest who guesses correctly takes down the paper with the correct letter on it.


            When all the items have been guessed, the children may go outside for a short “recess,” or else they may play some active games inside, such as “Bull in the Ring,” “Cat and Rat,” “Farmer in the Dell,” “London Bridges” or “Ring Around the Roses.”  

            After the children have gotten the wiggles out, they return to their seats, and you bring out the box of musical instruments.  The guests play with these for a short period of time and then settle down to hear a story.

            When the story is finished, introduce the birthday child by placing a crown on his/her head.  The children then sing “Happy Birthday to You,” followed by “How old are you?” to the same tune.  Then they chant quickly, “Are you one?  Are you two?  Are you three?” etc. until the birthday child says “Stop!” at the appropriate number.  He or she then helps serve the refreshments.

            After eating, the children keep busy by dancing to music or drawing pictures with crayons, until their parents come to pick them up.

 Variations and Comments:        Even if your child’s birthday does not come in September, this would be a fun party to give for your preschooler who feels left out when older siblings go off to school.  Snack time can be substituted for the birthday celebration part of the party.

            Much of the success of this party depends on whoever plays the “teacher.”  This person should be enthusiastic, friendly and comfortable dealing with young children.  If you, as the parent, feel you would be too harried on the day of the party to function well as a teacher, then ask someone else to help.

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