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Let's Party!


To give kids a taste of summer, even in the winter, throw a summer party! Do this in a heated gym or large indoor area if you experience cold winters so kids can bring shorts and T-shirts to wear.

Provide several colors of zinc oxide so kids can paint their noses when they arrive. Make beach-themed name tags from images such as beach umbrellas, beach balls, or sun glasses.

Kids will enjoy these fun games.

• Beach Ball Volley-Have kids play volleyball using a huge beach ball.
• Jump Rope Contest-This can be an ongoing contest throughout the party. Kids come to the jump rope station and jump for as long as they can before missing.
• Limbo Contest-Play fun summer music as kids limbo under a decorated limbo stick. Have two volunteers hold the limbo stick horizontally in relation to the floor and just barely high enough for the children to pass under. Children line up, bend backward, and walk under the stick. They're out when they fall, put a hand on the floor, or touch the stick. Lower the stick a little bit when each child in line has had a chance to go under it, and have the line go again. Continue until only one child is left.
• Summer Relay-Run a relay where kids don beach apparel before running back to their side. Form teams of six and have them line up on one side of the room. For each team, have six items of beach gear, such as sunglasses, floppy hats, large flip-flops, and beach towels at the other side of the room. On "go," the first person in each line must run to the pile and get one of the pieces, put it on, and return to his or her team. The next person in line takes this item, puts it on, runs to the other side of the room, and puts on another item. This person returns and passes both items to the next team member who does the same thing. The relay is over when team members return to their teams with all of the items.
• Digging for Treasure-Paint different numbers on 1- to 2-inch rocks. Fill a kiddie pool with sand and hide the rocks throughout the sand. Children dig in the sand with their toes until they find a rock and remove it. The number on the rock corresponds to the prize they win.


• Invitations-Using clip art, make invitations with a fish, sea shells, or a beach umbrella on the cover. Add the words, "Catch winter day rays at a fantastic summer beach party!" Inside list all the pertinent details about your warm and wild party.

• Decorations-Set up a little tiki hut or booth where you serve fruit punch and other drinks with real fruit. Fill up a baby swimming pool with popcorn so kids can fill sacks with popcorn for a snack. Hang posters of ocean or beach scenes. Hang large netting from the ceiling and walls, and place plastic or cardboard fish and starfish in them.

Have your adult volunteers dress up like lifeguards in shorts and homemade Lifeguard T-shirts. You can make these using fabric paint on a plain red T-shirt.
Make a summer or beach-themed backdrop and take instant-print photos of the children in front of it. The photos will serve as fun souvenirs.

• Favors-Give each child a bottle of bubbles.

Cheryl Russell
Owensboro, Kentucky


With these crafts, children can take a little bit of summer home with them.

• Leis-Have kids string paper flowers and pieces of plastic drinking straws alternately onto strands of yarn that they can then tie and wear as necklaces.

• Sand Art-Have children create a pattern from glue on colored construction paper. You can have some patterns pre-made for the younger children. Kids then sprinkle colored sand or glitter onto their glue design and tap off the excess. Have children put their names on their art and leave it at the booth to dry while they enjoy the rest of the festivities. Colored sand and glitter are available at craft stores.

• Butterfly Decorations-Have each child decorate and color a coffee filter with markers or watercolor paints. When the filter is dry, pinch it in the middle like a bow tie. Slide an old fashioned clothespin onto the middle and fan out each side of the filter to resemble a butterfly's wings. Help each child wrap a piece of chenille wire around one end of the clothespin butterfly, leaving the ends free, to resemble antennae. Have kids attach small sticky-backed magnets to the back of the clothespins so they can use their butterflies as refrigerator magnets.


A carnival-themed party is a lot of fun for kids of all ages. Set up various games and activities where children can win tickets or coupons to spend at the prize booth. Admission fee to the carnival is a small toy or bag of wrapped candies per child to serve as prizes at the prize booth! Assign a coupon value to the prizes as children bring them, and wait for your eager coupon-winners to come trade for prizes.

For name tags, give small sealed envelopes or handmade decorated packets. Include one to three tickets in each name tag. Have children write their names on the tags, and help them safety pin the tags to their shirts. When children redeem their coupons at the prize booth, have them open their name tags to find their surprise tickets.

Set up these fun carnival games.

• Balloon Shaving Contest-Place a tarp or some kind of protective layer on the floor of the playing area to catch the mess from this fun game. Cover inflated and tied-off balloons with a layer of shaving cream. Let three children at a time race to shave the balloons with craft sticks. Allow one minute for each race. The child with the cleanest balloon at the end of one minute wins a coupon.

• Weight Guessing-Have a dynamic volunteer dress up in an outrageous barker costume. Have him or her call out for volunteers to "step right up" and try to stump the great Greg or Gertie Guesser. The volunteer guesses the child's weight aloud and has the child mount a decorated scale. If the guesser has guessed the child's weight within five pounds, the child wins one ticket, otherwise, the child wins two tickets.

• Cracker Whistling-Let four children play at a time. On "go," have children eat three crackers. The first child who can eat the crackers and emit a whistle wins a ticket. Give each child a cup of water after the competition is over to "wet their whistles."

• Relay Race-Have children line up for a relay game. Once enough children for two teams of four people have gathered, randomly choose children for each team. Have three or four different activity stations, such as jump roping, balloon popping, or even song-singing (where children must sing the first line to their favorite song). Children must perform the activities in a sequence before running back to their teams and tagging the next kids who'll then perform the activities. Have two teams compete at a time. Winning team members each receive two tickets; the other team members receive one each.

Create other booths where children enjoy activities and get an automatic coupon for participation.

• Decorate a Cupcake-Set up a table or booth with undecorated cupcakes, frostings, sprinkles, and candies. Allow children to decorate their cupcakes and eat them.

• Balloon Animals-Balloon animals are a hit with children. Although it can seem kind of intimidating, simple balloon art takes just a little practice. Provide interested volunteers with a basic balloon sculpting book, such as Balloon Animals by Aaron Hsu-Flanders (NTC/Contemporary Publishing), and allow them plenty of practice time before the carnival. If they can perfect even two or three balloon animals or figures, they're almost sure to have a line of children waiting for an individually crafted balloon pet.


• Invitations-Using clip art, make invitations with cotton candy, candied apples, or a ferris wheel on the cover. Add the words, "Come one, come all! Step right up for fun and fabulous festivities at the Kids Carnival!" Inside list all the pertinent details about your carnival party.

• Decorations-Decorate with primary colors. String Christmas lights around the room, and use red, blue, and yellow streamers and balloons to highlight a carnival-like atmosphere.

• Favors-Give children inflated helium balloons as they leave.


When you live in a warmer climate, you can't be terribly confident of having snow in the winter. But you can provide some winter weather festivities during January with this party.

* Snow Angels-Children can create snow angels on large sheets of butcher paper. Have a child lie on the paper, legs slightly apart. A volunteer then traces the child's outline, but not the arms or insides of the legs. Give children two markers of the same color-one to hold in each hand-and have them wave their arms up and down, so that they draw long arcs on the paper where their hands go. Connect the leg outlines with a curve to represent the bottom of an angel's robe. Then have the children decorate their life-size angels.

• Snowman Sundaes-Give each child two scoops of ice cream in a bowl or plate, one on top of the other. Have children decorate their ice cream with candy and toppings. They can use chocolate chips and M&M's candies for eyes and buttons; coconut for snow; pretzel sticks for arms, and little Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candies for hats. After you've photographed their creations, let the children eat their sundaes.

• Snowball Fight-If you can find lots of plastic foam peanuts, create an indoor snowball fight. Print shops are likely to have them around, or packaging stores may be willing to donate what you need. Get enough foam peanuts to cover the floor of a small room 1 to 3 inches in depth. Let the kids go crazy in the "snow." The best part (but also the messiest) is that those peanuts start to break down and stick to everything. The floor will become absolutely white, but the kids will love it! Use a shop vacuum to clean up the leftover snow fragments.

• Hot lunch-Serve hot soup and sandwiches, and offer apple cider or hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Todd Medlin
Raleigh, North Carolina


• Invitations-Make snowflake-shaped invitations with your party information. Or attach an invitation to a mini candy cane.

• Decorations-Use tufts of white fiberfil to resemble snow. Position stuffed penguin and polar bear toys around the room. Use artificial Christmas trees and homemade snowflakes as great seasonal decorations.

• Favors-Give each child a half pint Ziploc bag of homemade hot cocoa mix as a party favor. The following recipe makes approximately 10 half pints of mix: 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 cup coffee creamer, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk. Mix these ingredients together and add 2 cups of miniature marshmallows.

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