I would think that after so many of school birthdays, an idea for another one should come as easy as a waffle for breakfast. Well… doing the same thing is boooooring, and, honestly, I don’t even remember the other things we’ve got to do. This is what I do remember:
- keep it short
- keep it simple
Home parties are places for creativity. School birthdays – need to be short and easy. So, a book and a craft fit that recipe the best. I noticed that in preschool, “edible” crafts work better – all the participants find it a lot more enticing to participate and their attention span is far too short for any serious (or even interesting) group project. Paper crafts work better in school, since by that time the kids finally accepted the necessity to participate in odd and meaningless activities (from their point of view; the teachers, of course keep their own opinions).
My middle one has turned five! He is still in preschool. Yahoo! We can make a craft that will be happily gobbled up at the end. My ToDo list:
- Check school’s food restrictions (nuts free – in our case; check!)
- Check class allergies (nuts, but that’s a given; also surfaced milk, eggs, some seeds and cantaloupe)
- Check how much time you have. (It is rarely more than a half hour)
- Think of a book: it has to have really engaging illustrations, it better be funny, simple and short. Again, attention span is worse than my husband’s interest to interior design during another “really important” sports game
- Ask your little one for an opinion! (Aha, after I had the whole plan in mind and was gathering the supplies to surprise my birthday boy, he notified me that he has completely different agenda… I actually thought his idea was even better, but it meant last minute shopping trip!
- Now get the supplies for a craft!
- I guess it is optional, but I chose to snap a photo of all the ingredients and to send it to the parents whose kids have allergies: showing their happy text messages on a phone to a teacher really sped up the food discussions, and surprisingly, even though the kids can’t read yet, relaxed them about unfamiliar foods quite a bit too!
So, which book-craft?
My friend had a terrific idea to pair Laura Numeroff’s book If You Give a Pig a Pancake with… pancakes. And maple syrup. Milk and egg allergies didn’t exactly work for that one, and mentioning sweet syrup to the teacher made her look as if she swallowed a sour lemon. There are quite a number of books in Laura Numeroff series: I could either spent the whole evening baking egg-milk free muffins, or go with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, that are usually quite popular, are egg and milk free. And nut free. And sesame, cantaloupe, apple, giraffe and princess – whatever it is your kid can’t stand.
Last year we read Mrs. Hen’s Big Surprise by Christel Desmoinaux. That book is TERRIFIC: kind, witty, funny, wonderful illustrations, did I say very-very kind? We made some chicks with… drum beat… Oreos! And marshmallows, raisins for the eyes, some red frosting or thin pieces of licorice. Pretzels for the feet.
And this year… my kid picked Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman. Not exactly historical, but hilariously funny, with fantastic illustrations. For a craft I suggested making… underpants. The kids happily agreed. I love kids: they are open to anything that is fun. Well, of course we didn’t make underpants! We did dinosaurs instead! Completely allergy-free ones. Sweet and yummy. And… quite simple:
- half a waffle for a body
- aforementioned Oreo for a head
- milk free chocolate chips for the eyes
- cranberries for the mouth
- little fat pretzel feet
- think pieces of strawberries for spikes
Finding waffles that are both egg and milk free turned out a lot easier than I expected. I even gave kids some granola for the prehistoric “earth” beneath those pretzel feet. Yum! I can happily report, that all the sweet dinosaurs went completely extinct at the end of the party!