Children’s Activities

A Pokemon Party

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Great Ideas for Party Activities and non-sugary foods to serve.

Last weekend we hosted Jason’s Pokemon Birthday Party. Prior to planning this party, I knew very little about Pokemon, but I think my research paid off and I pulled together the theme pretty well. Based solely on the fact that my daughter is now requesting a Pokemon party for her next birthday, I’m concluding that the party was a success by the kids’ measures as well. But that might have been the pinata envy talking.

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Great Ideas for Party Activities and non-sugary foods to serve.

Food & Drinks

We had a small group this year so I intentionally kept the menu simple. I saw lots of ideas for gumballs and other round candies used in Pokemon-themed foods, but since we also had a pinata (and cupcakes), I decided to opt for less sugary snacks.

I served the following:

  • Pokeball snack plate with white cheddar cheese and strawberries
  • Sea salt popcorn with chocolate Smarties sparingly mixed in
  • Adorable Pikachu and Pokeball cupcakes by Sugar Biscuit Cakery
  • Lemonade and water

Several of our party paper supplies, including Pokemon-themed accessories, paper straws, chevron treat cups and square blue trays, were graciously provided by Party Pail.

The Games

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

While researching the party, I discovered “badges,” and these seemed like a perfect way to connect otherwise unrelated party games to the Pokemon theme (for example, a pinata becomes a way to earn a “Boulder Badge.”). You could easily make your own badges (or have your child make them) out of paper or clay. However, I found these on Etsy and decided they were too perfect to pass up.

If you end up incorporating badges into your games, I highly recommend committing the meaning of each badge to memory. I was a little fuzzy on which was which and it turned out the kids were too. I had planned on matching the badge’s meaning to the game (for example, guessing the correct number of Pokeballs in a container earns the Marsh/Psychic-type badge), but I ended up just letting the child choose the badge she/he wanted because no one seemed certain about what each represented.

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
These first two games required a bit of prep work, but they were super inexpensive and very fun. Both used the same materials – about 140 ping pong balls, red spray paint, painters tape and black washi tape (or a Sharpie marker).  I purchased the ping pong balls here for less than $10 and, after taping the bottom halves, my husband spray painted them in a bright red color. Next, I wrapped thin washi tape (purchased at Michael’s) around the balls. I ran out of tape about 3/4th of the way through and used a Sharpie marker for the remaining balls. No one (except maybe me) seemed to mind.

Pokemon Psychic Challenge

For this challenge, I placed 70 of the balls in a large glass vase and, as each guest arrived, I asked them to write down their name and the number of Pokeballs in the container. The guesses were all over the map, ranging from 18 to 102. My daughter came the closest with a guess of 60. Psychic badge earned – or wait, that was the Earth badge. Or maybe not.

Gotta Catch ‘em All Pokeball Hunt

Once the guessing game was complete, my husband placed all 140 of the ping-pong-turned-pokeballs in our front yard and, soon after, we handed out bags and let the children run around our yard and ‘catch’ as many Pokeballs as they could. In the end, they had to count the balls they found to see who won – I think this may have been more of a challenge than the game itself!  Wow, this party had too much math!

Squirtle Water Balloon Blast

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
If you don’t know what a Squirtle is, you can read more about this character here.

This game was a last-minute addition, and it turned out to be my favorite. I painted 3 Pokeballs (using watercolors on thick paint paper) and made 60 water balloons. Actually, I made about  30 and then my daughter was so jealous that she offered to take over for me and I was able to drink coffee while leisurely tying each balloon, which she hasn’t mastered yet. I was pretty impressed with her perseverance on this one.

For the game, each child was supposed to throw the balloons and hit the Pokeballs in order, from closest to farthest. My husband was in charge of setting up the game, and he placed the targets so far apart that I don’t think anyone successfully hit all three targets in the first round. It was still quite a bit of fun to try and, in the end, the bestowing of the Water Badge was a highly subjective call on my part.

Pokeball Pinata

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

This was the first time we’ve had a pinata at one of our parties, and it was a highly anticipated event. Seriously, once the pinata arrived, I think we talked about it at least once a day.

We purchased the pinata here and it was very well made. Perhaps a bit too well made as each child probably had about 4 or 5 goes at it before it finally cracked under the swings of our neighborhood baseball champ.

Pokemon Character Portrait Studio

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
I was hoping this activity would be the highlight of the party.  I hired a caricaturist (Amy Gorman), and I recreated simplified versions of my son’s favorite Pokemon cards. My plan was to have each child choose one of the large-scale (8 1/2 x 11) cards and have the caricature artist draw the child’s likeness as the portrait for that character (as illustrated above). Because what child hasn’t wanted to be a Charizard Mega EX? I’m pretty sure that’s a real character. Maybe not.

My plans were foiled when our local Fed-Ex/Kinkos store failed to open during their stated business hours on the day of the party. Collectively, my husband and my dad spent 2 1/2 hours outside of the Fed-Ex location in order to pick up the my portrait templates, but no one ever arrived to open the store. I was very disappointed, but in the end we just had standard caricature portraits made and I think we made the best of it. The portraits were very awesome despite not matching the theme as well as I had hoped.

pokemon-portraits

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

Many thanks to all of the awesome shops, artists and suppliers I worked with:

For details on the trading card invitations, check out this post.

 

 

 

Slime Specimens for Halloween

Make this simple, all-natural slime. A perfect classroom activity or gift for kids this Halloween.

 

Last weekend we made slime – slippery, stretchy, silky slime. Jason and Jenna loved it, and I realized it would make a great classroom gift or party activity for Halloween. I was thinking about packaging small samples into bags or clear jars and using Halloween labels like these or these. What child wouldn’t want some chopped bat brain or fresh rat heart specimens for Halloween?  (more…)

Favorite Places: Legoland

Legoland has been one of our favorite places in to visit for years and now they have a new water park!

Legoland Discovery Center has been one of my children’s favorite places to visit since they opened a few years ago. We are huge Lego fans (as evidenced by Jason’s 6th and 7th birthday parties), and this weekend, we visited the new pirate-themed splash park that was added earlier in the month.

With temperatures still hovering around 90 degrees in Texas, it was the perfect afternoon to run around splashing in the sun and playing with large Lego bricks. (more…)

Summer Trend: Hair Chalk

Hair Chalk: A fun way to temporarily color children's hair without the mess of spray-on colors

Earlier this summer, we attended a birthday party that had all of the stuff that makes children’s parties awesome – face painting, balloon animals, pinatas and even a hair-coloring station. Jenna was especially excited to get her hair colored, and, while I secretly cringed at the thought of spraying her already tangled hair with sticky spray, I let her join in the fun. She, of course, was thrilled with the results:

Use hair chalk as a safer, easier way to temporarily color children's hair

This weekend, we came across Alex’s Hair Chalk at the store and I immediately recognized the appeal. All of the fun of temporary hair coloring without the mess and chemicals of aerosol sprays.

The hair chalk is really easy to use and the results can vary based on how you apply it. I applied it to Jenna’s dry hair (and Jason even applied a few streaks to his own) for a more subtle effect, but I’ve also read that you can apply it to damp hair and spray it with hairspray for a more intense color.

Hair Chalk

Note: post contains an affiliate link

 

Making Fresh Pasta with Children

Cooking with Jason and Jenna is something I wish I did more often. They’re getting older, but I don’t always recognize how much they can handle these days - especially Jenna who loves to help out in the kitchen. This weekend was a serious reminder of just how much that little girl can do.

Making Fresh Pasta with Kids

On Friday night, I made a batch of pasta and saved some dough so that Jenna could make her own noodles the next day. I thought it would mostly be for fun and didn’t really think we’d end up with an edible batch. But the fettuccine noodles for lunch, shown above, were almost entirely Jenna’s creation.

The dough was already prepared, a step I’ll likely do in advance next time too since I used a semolina pasta recipe, which is a little hard to knead. Once I showed her how to flatten a piece of the dough and guide it through the KitchenAid attachment, she worked through the entire batch. My only role was adjusting the levels during the flattening step and turning off the power between each piece.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made fresh pasta, but now that I have a helper, I’ll be making it more often!

Making Fresh Pasta with Kids

DIY Concrete Stepping Stones

DIY tutorial for creating stepping stones with children

Ever since volunteering at the art table during a Real School Gardens event, I’ve wanted to do this craft with Jason and Jenna. It’s messy, but the results are awesome and I love how these stepping stones look in our yard.

steppingstones1

We started by letting the kids select their favorite materials from a huge batch of stones, beads, marbles, buttons, glass rocks and other leftover craft materials I had on hand. We didn’t use any Legos (because I didn’t think of that), but my son commented that we should use Legos next time … as if we don’t already step on enough Legos around here.

DIY tutorial for creating stepping stones with children

Mixing the concrete is the hard part. We used Quikrete and mixed it into a bucket without wearing any gloves. FYI, I highly recommend using gloves if you’re going to mix the concrete by hand. Once the concrete was mixed, we poured it into shoe boxes and other similarly-sized boxes that we saved.

DIY tutorial for creating stepping stones with children

We let Jason and Jenna decorate the stones by pressing the materials they had selected into the wet concrete. You don’t need to press it in very far for it to stick, so this part isn’t messy and can be done without gloves.
DIY tutorial for creating stepping stones with children
We let our stones dry overnight, but it seemed like they were fairly dry within a few hours. Once they were completely dry, we placed them in the yard and let the kids start stepping, jumping and running on them.

DIY tutorial for creating stepping stones with children