UK theme party... for kids
May 17, 2010 3:42 PM   Subscribe

If you were to throw a British-themed party weekend for a 9, 6, and 4 year old – something both fun and (relatively) educational – what activities would come to mind?

My husband and I have been putting on a series of theme weekends for his kids, focused on a particular country/culture. The point is to have FUN and encourage them to think about the world outside our immediate region. Though we've only done a handful of weekends (Mexico, Japan, and France), so far they've been a big success.

We typically try to incorporate food traditions, flags, a bit of history, a few fun phrases in the language, and plenty of music and dancing... sometimes costumes!

I have a surplus of ideas for Britain (food, music, etc.), but I'd love pick the hive mind for some additional suggestions (particularly vis-à-vis children's books or TV). Thanks!
posted by allisonrae to Education (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I was completely obsessed with Mr. Bean when I was a child, but I'm not British, so I don't know how culturally representative that is.
posted by sallybrown at 3:46 PM on May 17, 2010

harry potter
matilda (the books, not movie)

meat pies
posted by nadawi at 3:47 PM on May 17, 2010

posted by aniola at 3:47 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

As far as children's TV is concerned, Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures are obvious - but excellent - choices.

If you haven't already thought of it, malt loaf is a yummy British treat.

The Great Game of Britain is a game that I loved as a child which also happens to be quite educational.
posted by sueinnyc at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2010

You've got to have fish and chips, and listen to the Beatles. If you want a costume, go with a Queen's Guardman -- kids love the funny hats! Maybe sing/play London Bridge.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:52 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

The jokey but absolutely authentic answer is to drive somewhere in a car and sit inside while it rains, eating slightly warm sandwiches and metallic tea from a flask.

But, y'know, picnics. Enid Blyton, Wind in the Willows. Lashings of ginger beer. That's all sort of 1950s English, and may inculcate a sense of Britishness that was nostalgic even then, but anyway. British party food -- sausage rolls, things on cocktail sticks, trifle -- seems designed for children of all ages. You could just put together a classic Sunday dinner -- roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, etc -- which is always a communal effort.
posted by holgate at 3:54 PM on May 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Maypole dancing. Not really representative of the UK today, perhaps, but I grew up in a small village in Kent and every May Day the village school would put on a maypole dance on the village green; the kids always loved it. It gives you music, costumes and dancing all in one!

For children's TV, try Mr Ben, Bagpuss, the Clangers, or the Wombles. With a bit of searching you can probably find episodes of all of these online. Again all are getting on a bit, but are considered classics and have been re-released on DVD for a new generation.

For children's books, there is Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, A. A. Milne (there is nothing more English than Eeyore).
posted by greycap at 3:54 PM on May 17, 2010

Morris dancing?
posted by WPW at 3:57 PM on May 17, 2010

This seems like the perfect time to introduce the kids to Gilbert and Sullivan.* Songs like "I am the very model of a Modern Major General," "Oh, Better Far to Live and Die (I am a Pirate King)," "With Cat Like Tread" (those three are from the great Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline), "Never Mind the Why or Wherefore," "I am the Captain of the Pinafore," "Three Little Maids from School Are We," "I've Got A Little List," "So Please You Sir We Much Regret" etc. etc. and so on are all very funny, fun to sing along with, and are perfect for costumes.

*But, then, when isn't it a good time to do so?
posted by ocherdraco at 4:08 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Castles! Not the mythical fairytale type, but you could check out Castle by David Macauley (apparently there's a DVD, though I haven't seen it) and build (at least somewhat) accurate castles using blocks. 9 and 6 year olds will really enjoy Macauley's drawings and even a 4yo should be able to get behind the idea of using a catapult (or trebuchet) to take down a structure.

Bonus points for constructing a working siege tower.
posted by clerestory at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2010

And having a proper English tea (at teatime!) is also completely necessary.
posted by clerestory at 4:14 PM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Maybe print the faces of 3 famous people (maybe one of each of the 3 for each kid) and put on sticks. Then play a game and tell them facts about one of those 3 famous people and they hold it up if they think it was them.
Shakespeare, Churchill and Darwin??
posted by beccaj at 4:20 PM on May 17, 2010

Seconding Roald Dahl, Bagpuss and the Wombles - and going a little bit further back, Muffin the Mule or Andy Pandy were very British television programmes. Food-wise, a fun thing to do at a kids party would be the classic Beano-style sausage and mash, where there's a huge pile of mash with the sausages poking out. And then maybe try out some cockney rhyming slang?
posted by thoughtless at 4:20 PM on May 17, 2010

Also how about copying the outline for the union jack on a T-shirt for each of them and then they paint with t-shirt paint. I would wear one of those.
posted by beccaj at 4:22 PM on May 17, 2010

And I just saw on a curious george they took a map of a country (or continent I forget) and divide it up into squares. Each kid paints/decorates/colors their part and then they put it back together and it looks great. Maybe you could do that but each kid gets to do a few blocks.
posted by beccaj at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2010

(I love this idea and hope to use something like it with my kids when they are a little older). This would be a good blog. :)
posted by beccaj at 4:30 PM on May 17, 2010

In honor of the Palace Guard, have a straight face contest. Last one to crack a smile loses!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Er, wins.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 PM on May 17, 2010

You may also want to consider whether you want an English or a British theme. There are lots of Scottish or Welsh ideas you could consider.
posted by greycap at 4:33 PM on May 17, 2010

they have some nice coloring pages ...

You could also do your own Stonehenge in the backyard or with brownies.

I'll try to stop now.
posted by beccaj at 4:36 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Can't believe no one's mentioned Alice in Wonderland or Mary Poppins...
posted by cottonswab at 5:18 PM on May 17, 2010

How about party crackers? You can even have the kids make them (more-detailed instructions here) and put jokes and such inside.
posted by Houstonian at 5:35 PM on May 17, 2010

Cute tea rooms often tend to have British stuff in their gift shops. If there's one nearby, it might be worth peeking into for ideas before your weekend, even if you don't plan on having tea.
posted by TEA at 5:41 PM on May 17, 2010

A cheese and pineapple hedgehog would be authentically British kids party food.
posted by tallus at 5:49 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

a few fun phrases in the language

My Fair Lady
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:02 PM on May 17, 2010

You could have an awful lot of fun with a large, refrigerator sized box painted blue with a door cut into it to make a TARDIS.
posted by Artw at 6:21 PM on May 17, 2010

posted by at 6:26 PM on May 17, 2010

yorkshire puddings!
posted by Sara Anne at 6:28 PM on May 17, 2010

I really enjoy James the Cat and think of it as very British. There are a handful of episodes on YouTube.

Definitely check out Christmas crackers.
posted by kmennie at 6:32 PM on May 17, 2010

(there is nothing more English than Eeyore)

Myers-Briggs is rubbish; Pooh personality tests FTW.

Back on topic: Poohsticks. Requirements: river or acceptable river substitute (one); bridge (one); sticks (one per player, must be identifiable).
posted by holgate at 6:44 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Totally Gilbert and Sullivan.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:51 PM on May 17, 2010

Beatles Rock Band, fish and chips, Doctor Who, and tea!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:29 PM on May 17, 2010

Definitely check out Christmas crackers.

In May????

How about trifle? More fun with sherry in it but you probably want to do one without as well for the kids.
posted by Artw at 7:37 PM on May 17, 2010

robocop is bleeding: "In honor of the Palace Guard, have a straight face contest. Last one to crack a smile loses!"

This is awesome.

Actually the whole idea is awesome. You are the coolest stepmom ever! You *should* write a blog...or a book!
posted by radioamy at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2010

The Alice books. And you could probably find some Welsh language or Scottish or Irish Gaelic children's programmes on YouTube. Here's the BBC's Ballamory (in English, but filmed on Mull).
posted by paduasoy at 3:18 AM on May 18, 2010

A cheese and pineapple hedgehog would be authentically British kids party food.

A cheese and pineapple crocodile is even better!
posted by ninebelow at 4:19 AM on May 18, 2010

Sherlock Holmes?
posted by werkzeuger at 11:59 AM on May 18, 2010

Response by poster: WOW – thank you everyone for all the fun ideas! Food-wise, I definitely want to do a proper tea time (with some silly twists), roast beef with Yorkshire pudding for dinner one night, fish & chips for lunch. Love the Palace Guard/crack a smile contest idea! I was already gonna make a few bearskin hats out of faux fur and posterboard, so that will be a perfect use for them! Plenty of Beatles and Stones (and Animals, Kinks, Zombies, and so on and so on...) tunes will be spinning as well.

So many great ideas here. I'll sort through them and post an update soon. Thanks again!
posted by allisonrae at 1:03 PM on May 18, 2010

Sherlock Holmes!!! Have a treasure hunt/mystery with clues to follow!!
posted by Spyder's Game at 12:41 PM on May 20, 2010

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