"How Many Five-Year Olds Could You Take On At Once" is not an option
January 26, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a birthday pool party (indoor) with a group of 20 kindergarten-age kids. They'll be in the water most of the time, but they'll be in a charming little holding cell for the first part of the party. Any suggestions for an activity or craft that would work well in this situation?

My son is turning 6 tomorrow, and he's having his party at an indoor swimming pool. The kids will spend the first 30-45 minutes in a small community room for cake and presents and will spend the rest of the time in the water.

So obviously, I don't have to entertain them for too long. But I'm envisioning 20 kids, hepped up on sugar, wanting to get to the water, and penned in a room with all the ambiance of your typical AA meeting. I know many of them will just run around in circles and whoop, but I'd like to set up some sort of craft or activity that some of the more focused ones could do.

Ideally, the activity/craft should be optional (not an "everybody gather round" thing), something kids could do with their parents, and doable in a small space. And cheap. Cheap is good.
posted by bibliowench to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This might be less flashy than you're looking for, but I'm continually amazed by the way that kids can be completely and indefinitely entertained by a rousing game of Heads Up 7 Up.
posted by Rallon at 8:59 AM on January 26, 2008

God's Eyes? Yarn from a thrift store, sticks from... um... the stick store.

Pens and paper and scissors and tape on a table and nobody telling them what to do (my son's favorite craft).

Here are some fishy activities -- I don't know why The Rainbow Fish is so popular, but it is...

Make submarines out of toilet paper tubes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:04 AM on January 26, 2008

One of my more successful birthday party activities at this age was putting a fitted sheet on a table (making it a table cloth) and leaving the kids to color on it. The kids loved the idea of being able to draw on the table cloth. In addition to markers, I also had glitter, sequines and glue. Now this was with a group of mostly 5-6 year old girls and may not work so well for a group of mostly or all boys (who are more likely to be in constant motion).

Another fairly successful activity was the 'guess what's in the box by touching but not looking' game. I had an old plastic pumpkin that I used which worked well because the opening was fairly small and it was easy to make a cover for it with a small opening for little hands. I put in things like jello, peanut butter, boiled spaghetti -- things that were mushy. The kid, if it isn't obvious, had to reach into the bucket and guess what it was - I had a few kids try each new thing and let them all guess.

I guess you could involve the parents in both of these activities and they could be in parallel as the table cloth doesn't need much of your attention.

Good luck!
posted by bluesky43 at 9:10 AM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Blowing up different shaped balloons. Then they can take them into the pool with them and try to submerge them and pop them and things-- but the burst balloons might play hell with the pool filters, so check that out first.
posted by jamjam at 10:51 AM on January 26, 2008

Duck duck goose, markers and paper/coloring books/outlines you printed out, play doh or sculpey or modeling clay, charades or pictionary (you should write suggestions on slips of paper ahead of time), musical chairs, paper airplanes, small wooden shapes they can decorate and take home.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2008

some games:
Relay race - balance something like a potato on a spoon so they can't go to fast. Make the teams small enough no one has to wait to long (say 5 teams if there is room).

Pass a ball/orange/potato from chin to chin (no using hands). Stand in a circle and have more than one item going so again, no one has wait too long.

Make a paper chain. encourage them decorate each loop with something (or not). When the loop is done go around and see how the length compares to different things - the table, the width or length of the room, of the pool, of line of kids holding hands. Or ask them to guess how many loops long something is and then measure it with the paper chain. (sneak in some math skills)
posted by metahawk at 11:39 AM on January 26, 2008

I have been in exactly the same situation before. The event was a success, and I hope it is for you too. This is how I did it: I blew up a bunch of balloons before the party, bagged them up in huge garbage bags and set them in a corner of the room before everybody arrived. All you have to have on hand is a big basket full of smallish ridiculous toys (from the dollar store or something). Upon arriving for the party, give each kid a 'loot' bag (cheap old white paper lunch bag) and have them write their name on it (better yet, have the birthday boy/girl write the names of their guests and put decorative stickers on each one beforehand). Once everybody is there, put on some island music and tell the kids that for each balloon they sit on and pop, they bring you their popped balloon and then they get to pick a prize. They can keep their prizes in the loot bags. Once the balloons are all popped, take a picture of each kid with the birthday boy/girl, so you have a picture of a high point of the party that you can share with the guests when you send them a thank-you. I did it that way because it was very difficult to keep track of who each present was from and it helped to personalize the thank-you's.
posted by mamaraks at 1:13 PM on January 26, 2008

My friend does something at her kid's parties that kills a good amount of time. Get twenty small, small gifts. She's used sticker strips, fruit roll-ups, fake tatoos, anything from the dollar store. Then wrap one item. Lay the second gift on top and wrap too. Then keep going in different colors of paper until all the gifts are part of one giant gift.

Then, sit the kids in the circle and pass the gift around while playing a song. When the music stops, the child holding the gift gets to unwrap it and take the first toy. Make sure that whoever is controlling the music stops so that all the kids get a chance for at least one item.
posted by saffry at 2:05 PM on January 26, 2008

My sisters and I always had out friends paint t-shirts or baseball caps with puffy paint. It was a lot of fun because then people could wear the shirts to school and we'd all be happy about how creative we had been.

I had one friend who still wore the shirt probably six or seven years later. It said "MAYA" in enormous, wobbly letters and ended up looking very cool and artsy on a middle-school-aged girl.
posted by crinklebat at 10:24 PM on January 26, 2008

Thanks for all your suggestions. Unfortunately, my husband came down with Strep Throat today, so I'm going to play a solo round of "Try and Keep My Shit Together" and hope that the cake and presents provide their own sufficient entertainment.

But I will be keeping these suggestions in mind for the future.
posted by bibliowench at 10:44 AM on January 27, 2008

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