Thursday, July 7, 2011

Under the Sea Activities

 Because Lyda's birthday parties always have guests of varying ages, often more adults than kids, I like to have a wide selection of activities available.  Last year we had more structured group activities, and I think I preferred the looser open house style of a party that had this year and for Lydia's butterfly themed first birthday. I like to have lots of activities available that kids, of all ages, can pick up and put down at their leisure.  This year, I set up an activities table full of sea themed loot.
Here is the long shot of the activity tables.  I didn't put chairs at these tables to encourage people to take items back to their tables, so this area acted more like a crafty buffet.

 I found this little treasure box at a thrift store.  I filled it with plastic necklaces, pirate eye patches, miniature telescopes, sea themed silly bands, and under the sea tattoos.  We also had temporary tattoos at Lydia's first birthday party and I was surprised that the adults seemed to have as much fun with them as the kids did.  This year I was happy to see that party guests of all ages continued to enjoy the tattoos.  I cut most of the tattoos apart (they came on several large sheets) prior to the party and then set out a sponge to activate the tattoos, making it a self serve tattoo party parlor.
These Sea Urchins started out as a decorative idea (see post here).  After my initial $2 score at Walgreens, I found more on the $1 aisle at Target and bought all that fit my color scheme.  These were a BIG hit, some of them lit up and most of the kids got theirs early so they played with them during the part.  Fortunately, we ended up having the PERFECT number (awesome considering it was an open house with kids trickling in and out).

 I had three crafty activities.  They were all related, so they had some overlap in materials.  The first was "build a sand castle" using sand paper shapes.  I bought one pack of sandpaper from the hardware aisle at Walmart and cut them into various rectangles and triangles.  The sandpaper was not sticky backed so I layed out some glue sticks.  I also cut some blue paper to be backgrounds.  I also tossed out some foam sea themed sticky shapes to complete the under water images.
This ended up being really similar and a little redundant, so I could have probably saved myself some time on the sandcastles. Honestly I bought these sticker scenes from Oriental Trading first and then I fell in love with the sandcastle scenes, so i had them both.  For the younger kids, an less crafty adults, these were easier. 
An added bonus to the sea scenes from Oriental Trading was that we had extra fish stickers.  They could also be used in the sand castle scenes, or just stuck to kids arms, legs, etc.  Or, the stickers could be used to create a "decorate an aquarium activity".  I purchased these water filled glitter globes from Oriental Trading.  I bought them as a party favor, intending to replace the coloring page insert with a picture of Lydia so that she would literally be "under the sea".  We had extras so I scattered a few on the activity table with blue paper that was pre-cut to fit the globe.  Kids could easily put stickers on the paper or write and draw on it and then insert it into the water filled glitter globe.  The kids really liked that everything seemed magnified once it was inside the water.  I liked that I got these on super clearance because the insert was from a VBS program that didn't sell well. The inserts were getting thrown out and replaced either way, so no big deal!
The party octopus (generously donated by a student who made this in art class years ago and left it behind) is holding bubbles for the kids to blow at the party or to take with them as a party favor.  I wanted to print decals for the tops of the bubbles,but with the power out the week before the party, I settled for punching circles of blue paper, gluing them to both sides of the bubble lids, and adding mermaid stickers.
Here are some of the kids enjoying the activity table.  I think one has a sea urchin, one is making an aquarium, and one is making a sand castle.  I'm pretty sure all are having a good time.
 I LOVE that the adults at the party were equally happy to play with the items on the activity table.
Finally, here is a shot of the birthday girl, enjoying another staple at my parties.  We always try to project a movie on a blank wall.  This year we scattered a few bean bag chairs in the area.  The kids pop in and pop out, so no one really cares that the volume is low.  The kids usually know the movie pretty well, this is Finding Nemo, so they don't have to concentrate on it.  For the rest of the group, this trick doubles as a decoration adding sea themed images to a big blank wall.

Want to see more about Lydia's "3 Under the Sea" party? Check out these links.

Sea Food Party Post
Planning the invitations
Thrift Store Shopping for Decorations
Sea themed frames from thrift store finds
DIY Sea themed colored chocolates

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