Note: when planning any party for little kids it is GREAT to have an enthusiastic 11-year-old daughter helping. The whole family pitched in lots, but we really couldn’t have pulled this party off without Mabel’s help.
Here was our plan, and some follow-up comments on how well things did or didn’t work:
1. Robot freeze-dancing. Isaac helped me find some robot-ish music and we told the kids they’d been programmed to stop whenever the music stopped. If they moved after it stopped, they had to go to the “repair shop” in the corner for one round.
Follow-up: We had also played this at Rose’s 7-year-old St. Patrick’s Day party (the kids had to dance like leprechauns in a garden, and freeze so as not to be seen and captured when humans entered the garden) and the only hard part about it was the boys’ reluctance to dance–but this was remedied by suggesting they do kung-fu dancing or break-dancing. Also, some kids really didn’t like being sent to the corner. With five-year-olds the main difficulty was that we had some very shy, timid girls who weren’t excited to dance like robots. But Mabel and Hazel and Rose and I set the example, and most of the kids were enticed to dance at least a little.
2. Duck, Duck, Goose, played as “Robot, Robot, Broken.” (The idea is that a broken robot will get up and chase you around a circle. Mabel had suggested calling it “Robot, Robot, Malfunction,” but it turns out most five-year-olds can’t say “Malfunction” easily.)
Follow-up: Most of the kids hadn’t played Duck, Duck, Goose before, so we had to teach them. They did catch on quickly. There was some difficulty with kids not getting picked, or kids running the wrong way, or running around the circle indefinitely, but mostly the kids seemed to have fun.
3. Red-light Green-light in the backyard. This one never entirely worked, since as soon as they saw our trampoline the kids wanted to jump on it, but a few of the kids enjoyed the game a lot (while the others jumped) and it gave us necessary extra time since Mabel and Ike were still finishing up the preparation for our next activity.
4. Robot control panels with custom stickers. Since we’ve done similar things before, I knew going into it that this would be time, cost, and labor-intensive, but it also just sounded too fun not to try. Here’s how we made them:
I cut silver posterboard into quarters and rounded the corners of each panel by holding a cup on the corner to mark a curve, then trimming. (We rounded the corners because Dean thought otherwise they’d be uncomfortably sharp to wear.) Then we punched holes in the shoulders and waist and tied the front and back panels together with silver elastic cord.
For the stickers we found images of buttons and knobs and screens, Photoshopped them, printed them, and ran them through my (much-loved) Xyron machine to make them into stickers. We made the round ones the right size to be cut out with a circle paper punch, which saved us a lot of time cutting them out. Mabel really did most of the work on the stickers, with help from me and Isaac. (I actually had some other ideas for the stickers but ran out of time to try them.) And I also asked Mabel to use various robotic-looking fonts to print robot names for the kids, such as “HenryBot 5.0,” “RoboRose,” “Mabeltron 1100,” and so forth.
Follow-up: we ran out of time to print all the stickers we had meant to, and of course it only took a few minutes for the kids to put their stickers on their control panels. So there was a high ratio of cost and labor to the amount of time spent on the activity. But I still think this was fun and cute, and would do it again (but get a better head start).
5. Instead of birthday cake (the cake pictured above was from when Henry blew out his candles with our family) I ordered round sugar cookies from a grocery store bakery. I was so glad to learn I could do that, since it would have been hard to find time to bake. And I bought candies, such as colored candy strings, Lemon Heads, Red Hots, Mini M&Ms, Bottle Caps, etc. and we let the kids decorate the cookies as robot faces. (If you live in Utah, I’ve found that Macey’s has a great selection of novelty candies.)
Not unexpectedly, the kids loved decorating the cookies. At first Hazel was just scooping the candies directly into her mouth, but eventually she figured out to put them on the cookie first (then take them back off and put them into her mouth).
We had planned 1.5 hours for the party, and spent more time on games than we meant to (since Mabel and Ike were still hurriedly finishing making stickers) and we did have to rush Henry to open his presents while some of the kids were still decorating cookies–but we ended right on time. And all the kids participated in at least some of the activities, and we didn’t have any meltdowns nor bored, wandering children–so I call that a success.