Ain't no party like a whirlpool party
February 17, 2017 9:11 PM   Subscribe

My son is turning five and wishes to have a whirlpool-themed birthday party.

Not space, nor superheroes, but whirlpools. How can we most effectively integrate this theme? We are having the party at a local park with a playground, picnic tables, and a creek, with about ten to twelve little kids. So far, I have included a drawing of a whirlpool on the invitation, and am bringing a couple of whirlpool toys for guests to play with. What elements would scream "whirlpool" for a child's birthday party? Thanks for your creative ideas.
posted by kitschfrau to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tornado tubes - ask people to bring empty 2 liter bottles (or get some off of nextdoor or something) and give them out as favors
posted by brainmouse at 9:21 PM on February 17, 2017 [17 favorites]

Maybe a gym parachute would be a good way to simulate a whirlpool? The kids could flip it up and then get in it as it floated down around them? Maybe run in a circle first.
posted by bondcliff at 9:25 PM on February 17, 2017

Cupcakes with blue swirly icing, with teeny little boats on top?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:50 PM on February 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

Maybe have them make some little boats out of newspaper as a craft to float in the creek? This could be a litter hazard but they could tie strings to them to retrieve after the sweet creek whirlpool/whitewater action. Alternatively they could just make whirlpool captains hats.
posted by cakebatter at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2017

Will it be warm enough to play in the water outside? Something like this water table, or a set-up with lots of cups and buckets to pour in and out of.

How about some lawn games that emphasize twisting or spinning. I remember as a child playing one where we literally just spun ourselves around in a circle until you couldn't stand up any more. Hysterical laughter ensued, both from watching yourself and from watching your siblings teeter over and fall down. You could call it something like Fishies in the Whirlpool and tell them to spin about as if caught in the current. You could put on a soundtrack of I'm so Dizzy, or Right Round Baby. Or maybe someone can think of some watery songs instead of dizzy songs.

Here is another list of outdoor things to play, some of which could be dizzy type things.

Or make up a sort of a backyard adventure or scavenger hunt related to whirlpools somehow? Sort of like those Murder in a Box games, where people do role-play and try to solve a puzzle or find a treasure. Here are some guidelines for general games:
Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt
Backyard Nature themed Treasure Hunt
Backyard Treasure Hunting with Secret Codes
You might need to go to the library for some books about whirlpools, or look online for science lessons that you can use to make clues or puzzles.

For example, use some ocean or fish drawings to make up a rebus puzzle that spells out "picnic table" and then all the kids run there to find the next clue. That one could be a little poem or song about whirlpools, maybe each rhyme has the last word missing and then those rhymes spell out "c r e e k" where they all run to the creek to find the next clue. Engage the adults to dress up like pirates or mermaids and do a role play at one station where the kids have to dance like a whirlpool in order to gain the mermaid's favor so she will give them the next clue and then they run over there. One station near the creek could be a scavenger hunt where they have to find a smooth rock, a wet leaf, whatever. The last clue could take them to the treasure chest where they find supplies to make one of those 2-liter whirlpools that brainmouse mentioned above. Stuff like that. Maybe other folks here can help build this idea out a little more.

If you need some whirlpool photos, here are some really good ones.
posted by CathyG at 11:03 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's not a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt, but maybe it's a set of stations with puzzle or activities at each one. Instead of clues to the next location, your Pirate guide could lead the kids to the next location by having them pretend to be in a rowboat, so they all line up in two lines and act as if they are wielding a paddle off to the side of the boat. For the next one, set up a path with pieces of paper/cardboard that look like stepping stones, and they have to leap from stone to stone and avoid the (imaginary) swirling water that is trying to pull them into the ocean. Maybe make some dowels with soft streamers of blue and green crepe paper tied to them to represent swirling eddies of water, and blow a fan to make the streamers move against the kids' ankles as they try to get past.
posted by CathyG at 11:09 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aside from the party games and favors - can you rent a bouncy house with a water or whirlpool theme?

These are like $150 to $250 in my neck of the woods. Worth the expense because INSTANT PARTY.

Hope that helps!
posted by jbenben at 12:01 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Whirlpool," by the Meat Puppets. It's a narrative song about a whirlpool that has an adventure.

They Might Be Giants covered it on Dial-A-Song, and it ended up on the "Why Does The Sun Shine?" EP. Like most early DAS songs, TMBG's version is shorter, and a much more spare version.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:42 AM on February 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

If its semi warm, but not warm enough for water play exactly, what about a small kids paddling pool with some kind of foam (shaving cream? soap fluff?) in it to play with? Warning this will messy as all heck. But sooo much fun. Also, parents may hate you. Bring tons of towels to clean kids off.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 3:02 AM on February 18, 2017

Tornado tubes are the best suggestion! Have everyone make their own and bring different kinds of glitter or other add ins for the kids to add to each.
posted by slateyness at 3:57 AM on February 18, 2017

Get him an Airzooka, maybe a few to share. Blow out candles across the room, using the power of vorticity!

You can also make a giant one out of a trash can, and e.g. knock down paper airplanes across a gymnasium.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:29 AM on February 18, 2017

If you have a turntable, the coriolis effect demonstration is fun and fairly whirlpooly.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:31 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Whirling water is cool, but whirling air is nice too. How about pinwheels?

Also, I know bobbing for apples is traditionally done at Halloween, but it could be fun here too. You can easily swirl the apples around in the water before the kids bob down there. The most difficult part would be getting a large enough bucket or basin.
posted by amtho at 6:46 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe one of those spin art things, and each kid could make their own centrifugal-splatter painting.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:58 AM on February 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Thank you for all of these wonderful suggestions. We had the whirlpool party last weekend and it was a hit, especially the Tornado Tubes!
posted by kitschfrau at 1:50 PM on March 20, 2017

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