Tag Archives: animals

Animal Paddleball

Animal Paddleball

Animal PaddleballTwo for one is always a good deal and these cute animal paddleball games are just that for your nextbirthday party. And at $11 for a dozen at Amazon as of this writing, they’re affordable too! Call it $1 per kid for a take home party favor that’s way better than a bag full of tootsie rolls! [NOTE: If you make a purchase through the link on this page, I make a commission from Amazon, and that seems fair to me.]

Perfect for any animal birthday party, safari themed party or jungle birthday, or basically any themed party ’cause kids like animals. Save them for favors at the end  or better still bring them out any time your party kids need to blow off some steam and settle down a bit so they focus on the next party activity you have planned. Summer or winter, jackets or no, you can send them outside to the driveway for 15 or 20 minutes to bang these guys around and work off some of that sugar high.

You can even turn it into a mini competition. After they’ve had a little practice, make or have the kids sort themselves into two teams, then into pairs with one from each team. You with your stopwatch give each pair one minute with the child on team A bouncing the ball on the paddle and the child on team B counting the bounces. If it’s a miss, the count goes back to zero. Record the scores and add them all up for a team total. Then, switch sides with A doing the counting and B the bouncing, tally the scores and declare the winning team. One minute can be the warm-up; next round can be 3 minutes.

If you’ve used the paddles as a game have a Sharpie available so everybody can write their name on their paddles and have them ready for them to take home as their favor at the end of your party.

Pirate Door Decoration

Door Decor

Pirate Door DecorationGreet your guests with a themed door decoration and they’ll be in the mood for your games and activities right when they cross the threshold! This one’s for a pirate birthday party, but with minimal artistic ability you can create a similar greeting for your party guests for a multitude of party themes. Think Princess, Star Wars, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer, etc., etc.

This guy’s so cute, so here’s a shout out to Suzanne over at oursouthernnest.blogspot.com for a great idea that’s infinitely adaptable to your party. You can’t tell so much from this photo, but she has hung this decoration at the midpoint of her screen door (the doorknob is at the top of this pirate’s head) – just at eye level if you’re 3 or 4 years old!!

You can use a foam board from Office Max or Staples and your exacto knife to cut your shape and sharpies to draw or glue on fabric or pieces of construction paper to create your image. Find a stylized and largely geometric image online that matches your theme and work from that- the more geometric it is the easier it will be to recreate without being an artist.

Remember who your audience  is– a bunch of young children – and they don’t need a Picasso to be able to enjoy the image and get excited by it about your party. And that’s your purpose here, not getting hung at the Met.

So have some creative fun coming up with a kid friendly door decoration for your next birthday party. Perhaps this is something an older sibling would really enjoy doing for you and for the birthday child? Be it a lion’s head for your jungle party or Darth Vadar or Buzz Lightyear or Casper the Ghost for Halloween, greet your guests with a themed decoration on your front door.

Monarch Butterfly

Get them Moving after the Monarchs

Monarch ButterflyHere’s a terrific idea for a fall family or kids party activity that not only teaches about nature and science but gets ’em moving as our First Lady wants our kids to do (and with good reason).

While I had know about the many thousands of miles our beautiful monarch butterflies migrate between the US and Mexico, I wasn’t fully aware of the incredible nature of this journey and I’ll bet any kids you’ve got that need something to do will find the story just as inspiring. And with these unique monarch ‘tagging’ kits for a reasonable price for 25 tags, they can become part of the science and the story both. Follow the link at the bottom of the tagging kit page to see the full story about this migration.

Making a long story short, it’s the grand-children and great-grand-children that make the journey back to Mexico, sometimes to the same tree their forebears nested in! Scientists don’t yet understand how this homing instinct works, and the tagging program is designed to gather information to help understand it. How the little critters have the energy for such a long migration is another of the mysteries the tagging program collects information for.

Be it for an  outdoor fall birthday party game or a family outing activity, tagging 25 of these butterflies will be a fun and educational activity, and that’s always a great combination. Tagging would make a perfect game for your camping or jungle themed birthday party. Follow this link for peak migration dates to find out when to schedule tagging in your area- but it’s always a fall event so the time is NOW.


Party Tacos

TacoWhen it comes to feeding the birthday party guests, the first birthday party food that seems to come to everyone’s mind is pizza. Something the kids eat all the time- at home, at school. So it’s not exactly exciting party fare.

Tacos are easy, not a budget breaking expense, and fun for the kids to make their own. If you can chop tomatoes, shred (or cut into ‘strings’) lettuce, buy Mexican cheese, ground beef, the seasoning packets, salsa, and the taco shells, you’re all set. Add in the sour cream and the guacamole if your so inclined and it’s in your budget, but you can just as easily skip them both.

Speaking of guacamole, I’ve discovered an easy and quick way to make it. Mash up your ripe and ready Haas avacado and stir in as much medium spiced fresh (ie refrigerated, not bottled) salsa, and you’ll have a tasty guacamole.

Set out your taco ingredients on your food table all in all line so the kids can follow each other down your table and put their tacos together as they like them. This will take them some time, so don’t rush them. Anything that uses up a few more minutes of your party time is always a good thing!

Keep your birthday party food healthy and add to your table  some melon slices, grapes, or other fruit of your choice. And instead of soda try this delicious sounding Virgin sangria recipe– all their favorite fruit juices + fresh fruit that makes magic in your frig as it all melds together for a yummy drink the kids will love.

Just as pizza doesn’t require an Italian theme at your party, tacos and virgin sangria doesn’t only go with a Mexican themed party– it works as one of the great and easy party foods at any kids birthday party. It just tends to get forgotten as an option when you’re focused on all the other parts of putting together a great party, so I’m happy to remind you how easy they are to prepare and serve.


Pine Cone Birds

CardinalThe perfect party craft for your ‘in the park’ or outdoor backyard party with an eye toward nature. Thought up and made by an adorable 4 year old, so this craft works with preschool aged kids as well as older ones in elementary school. Here’s yet another shout out to my favorite artsy-crafty mom, Mary Lea over at pinkandgreenmama.com. She has full instructions for you over at her blog, but these cute little guys are actually as simple to make as they are cute to look at.

Pine cones, acrylic paints, feathers, colored felt, a black sharpie and Elmer’s school glue– that’s the sum total of the materials needed to construct these feathered friends.  If they are plentiful in your party venue, have the kids collect the pine cones, otherwise have them all ready to go ahead of time. The kids start by painting the pine cones for their cardinals (red), blue birds, gold finches (yellow), purple martins (purple)… there must be a green bird that I’m just not thinking of right now. Let them dry for a bit and then the kids can glue in the appropriate colored feathers, cut out the face and beak, draw on the eyes and glue on the head.

Take this craft a step further and have each party child make 6 pine cone birds and then turn them into a mobile with twigs and string. See how it’s done at enchantedlearning.com. Singly or as a mobile if they’re older and able to focus longer, these feathered friends make adorable take home party favors, so you won’t need to spend any extra money on goodie bags full of junk.

Plate Frogs

Froggie Catcher

Plate FrogsA big shout out ‘Thanks’ to ziggityzoom.com for this great preschool birthday party craft that the kids can then use as one of your birthday party games. I LOVE two-fers! First they’ll make the adorable frog catchers out of paper plates, then have a good time playing catch with them.

This craft involves minimal expense and minimal prep for you. You’ll need two colored paper (not styrofoam- the plates need to fold) plates for each child, construction paper or foam for the eyes and the tongue, stick glue, a stapler and a ping pong balls. Ziggityzoom even gives you the printable templates for cutting out the eyes, eyeballs and the tongue. For preschoolers, you might choose to have these all precut for the kids so all they have to do is assemble the frogs.

Complete instructions for putting these cuties together are on the ziggityzoom website– just follow the link above. Have an extra set of plates etc. so you can demonstrate how to put the frogs together and the kids can follow along. You might want an extra stapler and an extra pair of hands to do the stapling for the kids.

Once complete, it’s time for a game of catch. Your preschool kids will have an easier time catching with their frogs using two hands- one to hold the frog and the other to close the ‘mouth’ around the ping pong ball. Start them out tossing the ping pong balls a short distance to another child to catch with the frog – just a couple of feet.

This activity will work nicely as both a craft and a preschool game at any animal themed party– a jungle party or a safari party.


Mobile Butterflies

ButterflyHere are two different butterfly crafts that I suggest you put together for an extended craft session at your next 9-10 year old or preteen girls birthday party. Or, keep it in your arsenal of kids activities for a long rainy afternoon or a long playdate. Either way, the girls will enjoy the making and continue to enjoy looking at their creation when they take it home. This would be a great craft to include in a jungle party or animal themed birthday party.

Disney’s Family Fun has instructions for really cute tissue paper butterflies that are quite simple for the girls to make. All you need to supply them with are colored tissue paper squares cut to 4″ x 4″ (2 per butterfly, 2 different colors), 12″ colored pipe cleaners and thread.

Here’s a couple of tweaks to the basic butterfly suitable for girls in the 9 to 10 year old range. Give them googly eyes to glue on to the pipe cleaner antennae. Or, make the butterflies bigger and give the girls headbands to attach the pipe cleaner bodies to so they can all become butterfly girls.

For preteens, you can expand this craft by having them make simple but really pretty mobiles using their butterfly creations. You’ll find directions for putting a simple mobile together on the Enchanted Learning website. In addition to the thread for hanging the butterflies, you’ll need 3 twigs for each mobile. You’ll see that this website also has directions for making construction paper butterflies to hang from the mobile, but for my money the tissue paper ones are much cuter. Your choice, just choose your twigs to correspond best to the size of the butterfly you choose to have them make- the tissue paper ones are smaller. What’s key here is the instructions for balancing the butterflies – not as hard as you might think but it will give them a bit of a challenge.

If done as a party craft, the girls will also have made their take home party favor, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about. If kept up your sleeve as a kids activity when they need one, all you really need to have on hand is colorful tissue paper and the pipe cleaners.

Dino Egg Race

Dino EggAdd a challenge to the old standby spoon race and you’ve tweaked the game into a dinosaur themed relay race that the preschool aged kids will really enjoy. Thanks to familyfun.go.com for this dinosaur birthday party idea.

Save your cereal boxes so you have 2 empty boxes for each team of children at your dinosaur party ( or, two for each child at your party if you want them all to just have some fun traipsing about as dinosaurs). Tape the open end shut. Cut a 4 1/2 inch wide circle in the top of the box for the foot opening- position this using your child’s foot to get it in the right place. Using either the green craft foam as suggested in the post referenced above or green poster board, cut out your dino feet. Don’t sweat the small stuff, these don’t need to be perfect: a ”u” shape as pictured in the post is sufficient. Cut a 5″ ‘X’ in the feet positioned to cover the whole you put in the cereal boxes. Draw or glue on your dino claws.

Attach the dino feet to the top of the cereal boxes aligning the holes in the boxes and the green feet. Use a glue gun for the craft foam or a glue stick or rubber cement if you’re using the poster board. A few staples into the posterboard (away from where their feet might touch the staples) would also be a good idea.

Line up your teams with a chair or other obstacle to go around at the far end of each team’s relay race course. Give each team their dino feet, a wooden spoon and a plastic egg or small ball. On 1-2-3, have the first racers put on their feet, and carry their egg through the course, passing the spoon with the egg and the feet to the next team member. If they all have their own feet, just pass the egg on the spoon.

You know that tried and true games like this will work well as one of your dinosaur games, yet the kids don’t know they’re old fashioned. Of course, these could be any type of animal feet at your jungle or safari party too- it’s not limited to tweaking for a dinosaur birthday party.

Frisbee Golf

FrisbeeThis is yet another really easy outdoor birthday party game that you can customize to fit a multitude of kids birthday party themes. And it’s one I’d never heard of, so thanks to tipjunkie.com for posting it!

Gather up a bunch of laundry baskets, a few frisbees for your party guests and then put all those clip art and computer graphics you can access online and your color printer to work for you.

Stage the laundry basket in various places outside, each one being a ‘hole’ as in golf. Using duct tape or a yard stick or piece of rope, establish a ‘tee’ for each hole, some distance from your basket, from which each child tries to fling the frisbee into the basket/hole. Practice with your own child to determine how far away the tees should be – you want them to be able to get them in, but not on the first shot.

Each child keeps score by how many tries it takes to get in the basket on each hole. If you’ve got enough willing helpers or extra parents hanging about, let them do the scoring.

You’ll find free printable tags and scorecards for frisbee golf on the tip junie site, but think about customizing these to your party theme. Use graphics of space ships or aliens for your star wars or space party, different cars for your cars party, Disney villains for your princess party, different animals for your safari or jungle party, whatever works for your theme.

Borrow both the laundry baskets and the frisbees and all this game costs you is some ink for your customizing graphics. Sweet deal! Gotta’ love party games that are fun and don’t cost a cent.

The Bagel Snake

Bagel Snake

Photo from dailymail.co.uk “Mail OnLine”

Your party kids will love this healthful bagel snake, so thanks to Annabel Karmel at the Daily Mail Online for sharing it. He’s perfect for your animal party or jungle party or safari party, or just for fun at any party.

Cut your bagels in half in both directions and link them together to form the curves for your snake. Top with egg salad and tuna salad for the sandwich snake as pictured here. The garnish is cherry tomato halves and olives for the eyes and sweet red pepper for the forked snake tongue. Strips of fresh chive in an ‘x’ pattern adorn the body of the snake. Nothing difficult about this guy at all.

Top your snake with cream cheese for more of a snack snake instead of a sandwich snake. Or use peanut putter for a sandy-colored snack snake. Use a skewer to draw snakeskin patterns in your cream cheese/peanut butter. Still use the olives and pepper for the eyes and tongue.

Feel free to cut the bagel quarters into even smaller pieces if you want. Just still line them all up as shown into the curves for the snake body.

Present your bagel snake on something green to resemble the grass he slithers through. If you don’t have a green tray, get some green cellophane and cover a cutting board. Or, layer green construction paper on that cutting board and cover that with plastic wrap. Snipped parsley or chives add the perfect touch to this green background.

Party food that’s easy and fun and inexpensive; it makes your party prep that much easier for you.