Activities @ Home

Birthday Parties Across Nebraska

Yesterday I talked about how we chose to have our kids’ birthday parties this year be a large group one.  Because of the simplicity of planning and going to a location, this one was less stressful and possibly more memorable.  Although I do enjoy coming up with fun food, games and activities, at the same time, this can be rather stressful for moms.  In fact, I think Pinterest has not done moms any favors overall for party planning.

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Pretty sure my cupcakes have never looked like this …

While searching on the site for recent ideas for my daughter’s Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party, I found some cute and reasonable ideas.  Then I discovered the one page where the parent had hired a custom calligrapher to fashion the invitations.  She stated the expense was worth it – mainly I wished that I had been the one hired for such a time consuming job.  Even at minimum wage, I bet a pretty penny was paid.

For me, I want my kids to be celebrated, yet I do not want them to feel entitled to get every little whim and wish.  Feeling special is important but being completely catered to is another story.  I do want them to know their value in our family, yet I do not want them to think the world revolves around them.

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This cake is more what I manage to make usually, although whatever I was going for did not exactly work.  Thankfully, it tasted yummier than it looked.  My sister is 3 years and 3 days younger than me.  We have always celebrated our birthdays together – that is special to me now!

For many years, I was involved with a MOPS: Mothers of preschoolers group.  (In fact, tonight my  husband and I went to their couple’s soup supper – so great to have an evening with friends!)  Anyway two of the many meetings I attended involved planning memorable birthday parties for your kids.   The ideas presented were ones that moms can actually do in a reasonable amount of time and without a huge budget.

I had the opportunity last year to make the handout that was given to the moms complete with party themes, games and even recipes.  Some of the ideas are more specific to the Lincoln area (including places to buy cupcakes), but some of the suggestions could be used by parents anywhere.  I received permission from the contributors to post the document on this blog.  By the way, since the document is a year old, some of the phone numbers or prices could have changed.

Party Central on Odyssey Through Nebraska

(Hopefully the link will work.  I can be technologically challenged.  The original document had much cuter font, but I was not sure how to exactly translate it over from Word to Google Docs in the same format).

Anyway, two last fun traditions directly from my house.

The first one was copied from my friend, Jen.  When my birthday child wakes up in the morning, they will see their age counted out in crepe paper strips on the door.  In other words, my son is just about to have nine strips hanging from his doorframe next month.  Other than the fact that you have to buy inexpensive tissue paper and remember where the tape is (and possibly to follow up every time), this is rather easy.  My kids love it and now remind us every time to hang them up.   I try to do this while they are sleeping, but I think it may start being challenging when they can stay up longer than me!

My husband started the next tradition because for many years he has left the house for work rather early.  So, he would leave the birthday child a message on the window.  With dry erase markers, he would manage to get their name and a message.  Once I bought him window markers, his true artist came forth.  His messages have now turned into masterpieces.

Hopefully this post has encouraged you with some fresh ideas on planning your child’s birthday events. The important thing to remember is that effort is everything.  As long as remembrance is the focus, the day will be a celebration!  Happy birthday!

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Family Thanksgiving Celebrations (in Nebraska)

Many schools across Nebraska are closed today.  I have to say the same is true of ours – I gave my kids their assignments for the week early, so that we could have today off.  That being said, I am still planning on doing some fun activities that will help us to acknowledge the importance of tomorrow.  Some are meaningful – a few are fun.  But I am hoping that all that will help us to stay in the spirit of gratitude.

As with many experiences in our house, music and books are definitely involved.  I posted my personal Thanksgiving playlist yesterday on my other blog. And later today, I will post an entry just about the books that we read almost every year to celebrate this special holiday of gratefulness.

At first I thought about putting a bunch of links of different Thanksgiving activities.  But in this world of Pinterest, that search can actually be overwhelming.  Which provides too many options for one family to do in a day or maybe even in a dozen Thanksgivings.  So, instead I am posting some of my favorite activities that we have actually done – providing both simple suggestions and ways to “take it up a notch!” (Thanks, Emerill, for that great catch phrase!)

HISTORY

Simple: Scholastic has a link to an online Plymouth Plantation field trip.  These excellent re-enactments would provide your family with background to the true first Thanksgiving.  Easy to watch and quite educational!

Take it up a notch …:

My dear friend, Jami, is the queen of making celebrations more meaningful.  I really appreciate her intentional way of living.  She shared a great idea that she had found where you have your kids actually walk through the first Thanksgiving that she found at No Time for Flashcards.  You can have your kids learn while moving around the room.  Another idea: Jami actually used objects to help with re-enacting the story instead of just using printed pieces of paper.  Below there is a combined list of items that were used to make this interactive.

PLAY

Simple …

Many years ago, my Mom got us the great “Little People “Thanksgiving Celebration” set.  I love getting it down every year and enjoy  hearing the kids act out the first Thanksgiving.  (It appears to me that they updated the set to make it a bit more multicultural – I like our original one a bit better!)  I put this out and imaginations take over.

Take it up a notch …

Using the concept of walking through history above, hide Thanksgiving symbols and have your kids go on a scavenger hunt, taking the time afterwards to talk about what each symbol means.  (Evidently Little People used to sell a “Mayflower” ship.  We just used our “Little People Pirate Ship” and covered up that flag with more of a Pilgrim one!) Here are a dozen suggested items to get you started (the italicized ones are from the “Little People Thanksgiving set). Note: these items could also used as a part of the history walk through from up above.

  1. The Pilgrim and Native Americans (both boys and girls): men and women needed to work together to survive; the Pilgrims needed the help from the Native Americans)
  2. The pumpkin (to symbolize the planting of new foods)
  3. The turkey (reminder that they hunted to get their food)
  4. Benches: reminder that life was not comfortable for them
  5. A ship (actual play one or printed picture) – a reminder of their long journey
  6. Rock (to represent Plymouth Rock and their mark on the New World)
  7. A gavel or mallet to symbolize the Mayflower Compact – that they established laws right away
  8. Box of bandages or medicine: reminder that many were sick and did not survive
  9. A mitten or log: reminder of the rough weather that they had to endure – many were cold
  10. Five kernels of corn (the reminder that although their food was limited, they considered themselves to be blessed)
  11. A Bible (since they came for religious reasons)
  12. Cornucopia (symbolize the blessings they found)

If using items sound too complicated, you could simply print out and hide these meaningful Thanksgiving Scavenger hunt paper clues. (I think this is what we are going to do tonight for a family night!)

PAPER ACTIVITIES

Simple:

Keeping kids occupied: love the pages at Just Coloring Thanksgiving

Take it up a notch:

If your kids are bored with crayons and need a challenge, here are some great educational sheets for Preschoolers and for Early Elementary students.

GAMES

Simple:

If you are like my family, part of tomorrow will involve the television.  (I have one son who is a rather big NFL fan!)  So, rather than fighting it, watch with a bit of purpose.  We have enjoyed these printable Thanksgiving television bingo cards (options for both the Macy Day parade and football games).

Take it up a notch:

If you actually want your children to only eat potatoes and not become the couch variety, Spoonful has a collection of 24 great Thanksgiving Day games – some simple and some more complex.  I think we are going to try the Chopstick pass along using some of their items as well as candy corn.  After all, family togetherness is definitely a goal as well as gratitude!

Odyssey Thankful

 

P.S. I can’t resist one link: Having a Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner.  I have not tried any of these ideas, but they may very well make my list!  Fun ideas for not forgetting the younger ones!

One last annual tradition: we usually try to watch a “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”  Today I finally decided that I am going to add the DVD to our collection, as opposed to scrambling to find it every year! Now  if only, I could get away with serving popcorn and toast for a meal or two …

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A to Z about Nebraska Native Americans

As a part of our studies on Native Americans, we have been reading through this paperback book.  This inexpensive paperback is FULL of well-researched information about the indigenous people of  Nebraska.  I feel like I had a decent background of information from my own schooling, but I have learned a lot through our focus on this topic.

Without giving away any of her information, here is a topical list of just one item from each letter that her book includes.  (The “a” page alone has ten short paragraphs on people, places or items that affected Nebraska Native Americans).  The items that comprise my list are ones that either I was formerly unfamiliar with or where she definitively expanded my knowledge.

  1. Adze
  2. Buckskin (how it was made)
  3. Contact Period
  4. Dramatic Hair
  5. Effigy
  6. Fetish
  7. Gorgets
  8. Horse Creek Treaty
  9. Ioway
  10. Judicial Termination
  11. Killed Pottery
  12. “Lost the Corn”
  13. Massacre Canyon
  14. Name changes
  15. Oil from the bear
  16. Papoose (true definition and use)
  17. Quirt
  18. Rawhide (true definition and use)
  19. Shun-ka wakan
  20. Thunderbird
  21. Upper Republican Culture
  22. Vesperic Indians
  23. Winnebago Way
  24. Xenophobic
  25. Y (Thought provoking questions)
  26. Zounds

So there you have the list.  To find out more, I would definitely recommend getting a hold of this book.  Plus, several activities and fun reproducible worksheets are included in the back – a definite bonus!

 

 

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Just Where Is Nebraska Anyway?: Me on the Map

On a high school missions trip to California/Mexico, I was a bit surprised that many of my new found friends were completely unfamiliar with Nebraska.  They had a vague idea that it was a state in the middle of the country, but many of them had not given the Midwest much thought at all.  We used this fact to our advantage, convincing many of them (at least for awhile), that a frequent Nebraska activity was going out cow tipping.  Evidently they missed taking a simple geography class.

For one of our homeschool co-op classes this trimester, we are featuring this important subject of geography.  I get the privilege of co-teaching eight energetic kindergarten-first graders about the world.  Until this class, I am not sure that I recognized just how abstract the concept of “place” can be for younger ones.

Previously, I had used the book Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney and Annette Cable in teaching my own kids.  This book does an excellent job at putting a child’s own places in order: room, house, street, town, state, country, continent, planet. Progressive steps to explain a distant reality.

Book cover image from Amazon

As I was looking for interactive geography ideas, I was very excited to find a mom that had taken the time to plan an activity that would bring this book to life for the young ones!  Finally in First originate the activity, and then Teach Mama added her own spin. Circles of varying sizes to show all of the places each child can call home.  The largest one is earth, and then the smallest of the seven circles is house.

This project did take a bit to duplicate for 8 people.  I cut out most of the circles in advance.  Partly to fit them in the baggies, partly because I knew that even the gluing part was going to take a bit of time.  This lesson needed to emphasize understanding places, not the cutting or gluing part – requiring both would have taken too long.

I did follow their suggested links to finish the projects.  Your Child Learns has one of the best collections of online maps that I have seen.  I did use their Nebraska map.  I liked the fact that they included several major cities and major rivers.  I printed a copy, then shrunk it down 50% to get the map to fit on the “state circle.”  For multiple copies, I was able to fit four of these 50% size Nebraska maps on one page.

If you are looking to help your child or students understand the abstract concept of places that are personally relevant, the above activity is a great one.  If you are wanting to simply introduce the idea of a map, the book There’s a Map on my Lap is a fun one.

Book cover image from Amazon

This title is from the “Cat in the Hat” learning series.  In true Seuss fashion, Author Tish Rabe uses nonsensical places to begin to explain the concepts of maps.  The book is FULL of information.  My students did not appreciate the fact that I would stop after each page for a brief further explanation of the skills presented.  (They just wanted to enjoy the book! 🙂 )  Always a good deal to learn more about maps.  After all, everyone should know where Nebraska is located!

Categories: Activities @ Home, Recommended Reading, Region or City, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Fabled Flats, Fortune, Failure, Frame-able

Seventeen years later I still remember the places to stop.  Having gone away to the Twin Cities for college, I came to know that roads that traversed Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota very well.  Merle Hay Road.  That was the exit in Des Moines that had the most fast food restaurants.  The most selections.  The signal point in my journey of being almost halfway (depending on whether I was coming or going).

Fabled

While I could look to the Kelly green exit signs for direction,  adventurers first traveling west had to listen to the legends.  And John Irving (relative of author Washington Irving) retold a Pawnee one that possibly affected how the state of Nebraska was settled.  A Pawnee story of warrior, whose wife, the chief’s daughter who was supposedly swallowed up by the earth after wrestling with an old woman who threatened her with an ax.  Lovely, I know.  Supposedly leaving salt as evidence of the traces of her tears.  Although reportedly none of the Pawnee took stock in the legend, they did beat the ground before taking away the salt, as if wrestling it away from that ax-wielding woman.

I first read this salt flats fable in Remember When … Memories of Lincoln by James L. McKee.  I wanted to be able to provide a link to the legend.  But despite creatively searching, I could find nothing online about the author (other than to note that there is current author with the same name).  Nothing on the Pawnee Legend.  So this story must be buried in pages of historical journals, almost lost to the common man.

Fortune

So whether the fable implored travelers or the 1856 survey of this area, pioneers heard about the basins of salt and would detour miles out of the way to collect this necessary resource.  Being able to preserve meat and more was of utmost priority.  Entrepreneurs saw dollar signs.  Nebraska Salt Manufacturing Company incorporated March 1st, 1855.  (Ironically exactly 12 years before Nebraska became a state).  The Crescent Company (later known as Morton Salt)  moved in but moved on again for awhile with the threat of Pawnees nearby.  But the lure of the salt won out and compelled a return, and many others also tried their hand at profiting from this natural resource.

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My representation of the Lancaster salt flats.

Despite mixed results, this promise of salt continued to be a factor, even affecting the placement of the capital.  (Read more about this in one of my previous posts: “Nebraska’s 1st ever ice cream social.”)  The founders of this state had high hopes of this location turning into a feasible industry site.  After all, twice daily between three and four, both morning & afternoon, salt would ooze out the ground, amazing the observers.

Failure

Soon the subdividing of the lake bed occurred and orderly claims (set up like street blocks) were being “mined” for salt.  But this proved to be difficult.  Protecting the salt from dilution in water storms.  Setting up solar evaporation systems.  Although this did provide a temporary income for many who sold salt to sojourners on their way to a better life in Oregon, the low quality of the salt also impeded growth.  That and salt caves in Kansas that did not require the same vigilance from the elements.  By 1900, this hope of industry was deemed a failure.  And if Lincoln, partially thanks to the railroad, had not established itself as a city apart from salt, maybe the capital would have changed again.  (Of course this is my own theory! 🙂 )

Frame-able (Or “How salt changed our art one day”)

I try to frequently set apart 20 minute spans of time to spend alone with each one of my children.  Yes, this is a woefully short span of time.  But when you have four kids and a full schedule, you do what you can.  Anyway, they each get to pick their own activity.  This has involved everything from shuttlecock contests, helicopter experiments, trampoline jumping, bulldozer racing and cuddling with books.  This time my youngest picked water color painting.

My husband is the artistic one in our family, and to be honest, this would not be my first choice.  As my four year old settled in with this “Thomas the Tank Engines” pages, I decided to try a new technique that had always intrigued me.  Having just really learned about the Lancaster salt flats, I wanted to see if sprinkling salt over painting would really affect the picture’s outcome.  Painting turned out to be rather relaxing, which was a good thing since two of my other children decided that painting was what they wanted to do as well.

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I did learn one important lesson – have plenty of salt on hand.  Because kids sprinkle on an abundance of salt.  And the white granules go everywhere, much to my husband’s chagrin.  Putting the pictures in frames might be the only option since magnetizing the pictures on the refrigerator may result in salt scattering everywhere any time one walks by.  Currently the pictures are hiding on a shelf because while they are messy, they turned out great, better than I expected.

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My daughter’s houses.

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My eight year old son’s rendition of the capitol.  (Thankfully he has his father’s artistic ability)

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My representation of various Nebraska state symbols.  At least the map looks cool.

To paint “salt water colors” …

  1. Water color paper.  Available at any art supply supply (and maybe even at some “big box” stores), this is a worthwhile investment of only a few dollars that produces amazing results.  I do ration it out a bit, as my kids like to paint multiple pictures at one time.  But the each of them did get one piece to experiment with.  The paper does influence the result.
  2. Use lots of water on your picture.  If you are using regular copy paper, this does not work as well as your paper has a tendency to tear.  But the wetter your picture, the more area your salt can stick.
  3. Have your picture mostly complete before adding the salt.  While you can kind of paint on top of the salt, this also could ruin your paints.
  4. The paints: the little bins of 8 shades leftover from my childhood.  I did have a new one that we had picked up at a garage sale.  Despite my attempts at color blending instructions to my kids, the yellow is already an odd shade of green.  While I would possibly let my older kids use “nicer” paints, no one is going to enjoy the experience if mom is constantly fretting about the state of paints.  Cheaper can be better sometimes.
  5. A salt shaker can work well as the sprinkler.  Table salt would definitely be recommended due to the amount that could be consumed.   Save your sea salt for food where it actually makes a difference in taste!

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My son’s turtle of the sea.

While the Lincoln salt flats may have resulted in failure, your art will not be if you enjoy the process.  Think creatively and let the water, paint and salt do the work.  We will definitely be painting this way again, although possibly with a bit more supervision to save some salt. 🙂

P.S. In addition to using the McKee title mentioned above, I also found information on these sites as well.

1889 History of Nebraska

The Paths, Trails and Roads of Lancaster

History of Lancaster County and Townships (This was a very interesting post to me – I liked learning how the different Lincoln suburbs and sections received their names).

So, if you have a little time and would like to read further, all of these sites provide great information.

Categories: Activities @ Home, Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flinging Farewell to Nebraska Summer: Frisbee Face-off at High Noon

Around here, schools are gearing up to start back again next week.  (As opposed to homeschooling, where often school never really stops, just the degree of school lessens at certain points …)  But if you are one of those families facing a “1st day” next week or if you are simply looking for a way to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather,  a little round disc might be your answer.  Forty-four possibilities of “official disc golf courses” await you across the state of Nebraska.

Disc Golf Locations in Nebraska

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The course that we chose yesterday!

Maybe going to the park at noon for a picnic followed by Frisbee golf was not a great idea for a hot Nebraska August afternoon.  Since our intention was just to try out the “sport” and not finish either the 9 or 18 hole disc course, our time was enjoyable.  Mostly.  And thankfully there was an abundance of shade.

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The list of rules were posted near the beginning of the course.  I think my oldest is the only one who would have handled being this competitive.  You could also print out a list of Disc Golf Rules for Recreational Play.

What made our time less than ideal?  Really bad Frisbees.  The older boys picked the discs that would actually travel some distance.  All mine would do was go about five feet, then roll.  This was rather annoying, so I stopped throwing.  Instead I followed the kids around and watched them have the fun.  The older ones did have plastic discs, but they were more substantial than the ones that my youngest two and I tried to throw. My 8 year old’s opinion is that if we would have had rubber discs, they would have worked even better – slicing through the air more.  The kids had a blast.  I enjoyed walking around – I just didn’t like the throwing part.

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We traveled all over the park – fun to have an excuse to do that.  Their course was huge!

I do want to play Frisbee golf soon again as a family.  But we will follow a few important guidelines before playing again.

1) Find other discs.  Ones that will fly.  The helpful guys who were playing after us said that theirs were from Scheels, a local sporting goods store.  We watched their discs sail all the way across almost landing perfectly in the disc basket.  But that might just be skill – maybe we need to also search for a new technique?

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Loved the sound of the Frisbees hitting the chains.  CLINK!  So cool!

2) Wear tennis shoes.  My youngest one was not appreciating his crocs and the fact that all sorts of dirt was finding its way inside his shoes.  I would imagine most courses have tree and high grass sections.  Dress accordingly.  And bug spray may not be a bad idea either.

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You can even vary the difficulty of your course.  That is, if you are adept at reading disc golf course maps.  Or you can just throw as hard as you can toward the basket from wherever you are at.  That is what we did, and it worked just fine.

3) Bring 2 discs in case you lose one (or at the course we were on, in case the Frisbee flies into the creek).  Because the four year old’s did.  Almost.  This did not make him happy, nor the 8 year old whose Frisbee the 4 year old was using.  Thankfully the 10 year old was up for descending the steep slope and rescuing the disc, much to everyone’s relief!

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Flowing water at the bottom of a steep slope!

Maybe you will discover that disc golf is your thing.  In no time at all, endorsement deals will be coming your way.  Okay – maybe not so much, but I did discover that there is an official Disc Golf Association complete with instructional videos and everything.   You can even set up a course in your backyard – each basket runs around $400, but course pricing is available.  We’ll probably stick with just going to the public park courses. 🙂

 

 

Categories: Activities @ Home, Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Metro, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Czech out the Costumes: Nebraska History Trunks

Have you ever wanted to experience history as opposed to just reading about it?  The Nebraska History Museum actually has trunks full of artifacts and activities that are available for families and classrooms to check out.  We have borrowed both the archeology trunk (where we had fun digging for treasures).  We also “czech”ed out that heritage trunk as well and enjoyed trying on costumes when we studied the Czechoslovakia several years ago.

Czech Gabriel

A traditional Czech outfit for boys.

Czech Zeke

This shows a bit more of the intricate detail on the costume.

Czech Kaylee

The outfit was definitely was too big on her, but she still looked really cute!

(My youngest was only 2 – he was WAY too little this time for the costumes! 😦 )

Here is the information (directly from the Nebraska History Museum website)that explains about the trunk that we were able to bring home.

The Czech trunk provides educators with reproduction Czech objects for use in hands-on activities. Objects include: a feather baster, a cornhusk doll, an egg decorated with the batik method, festival clothing for a boy and a girl, Sokol uniforms for a boy and a girl, photographs, transparencies (of the Czech Republic in 1993, a typical farmstead, a Nebraska map, and a linear village plan), an audio tape for music and dance, video tapes featuring Sokol gymnastics and Czech dancing, and recipe, culture, and tradition books. Eight lesson plans are available on the topics of Czech farmsteads, stories and legends, clothing and costume, crafts, Sokol gymnastics, food, music and dance, and festivals. In addition to the lesson itself, each lesson plan includes background information, objectives, and a list of objects to be used with the lesson. A glossary is also included. Contact your ESU for information on borrowing a trunk. If you are not affiliated with an ESU, contact the Nebraska State Historical Society.  1-800-833-6747, or 402-471-4764 in Lincoln

Besides this trunk and their Nebraska archeological trunk, there are two others. Past-times & plaything (Victorian-era toys) and a fur trade trunk.  You can pick up & return the trunks in person or pay a shipping cost.  They are available on a first come, first serve basis.  They also have activity carts that you can enjoy in person at the Nebraska History Museum (located in Lincoln).  But more on that in a post to come …

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Bringing the Rodeo Home

So, you didn’t make it to Burwell?  Or to the Durham for Wild West Day?  I also didn’t make it to either one.   But I do have some ideas of how you can bring the rodeo to your house.  Okay – not the events, but maybe the feel?

When my oldest turned seven, we had a cowboy party for him.  This was before I had heard of Pintrest, so I simply did old-fashioned searching through books and a bit on the internet to find fun ideas.  I am not the best at decorating or planning parties – I usually concentrate more on the menu because I enjoy the cooking part.  But I have to say that throwing our own rodeo was fairly simple and quite enjoyable. Dollar Tree happened to have cowboy hats and bandanas at the time, so the party favors were easy!  But so were the events that I planned.

Here are some of the activities that we did.  So pick one if you need a distraction or all of them if you are looking to make an afternoon of it!

1) Stick horses races around an obstacle course or circle drive.  (If you don’t own any stick horses, go to Spoonful Homemade Hobby Horse to learn how.  I am not that crafty either, but I think I could tackle this project!)  Or in a pinch – have the kids use broom handles and their imaginations.  (Thankfully my Mom had kept our old one – that was the simplest of all!)

Hobby HorsePicture taken from Spoonful website – NO, this is not my creation! 🙂

2) Jump over the rattler.  We took a long piece of rope and attached film canisters (filled with beans).  When you move the rope along the ground, the beans rattle.  (I would highly recommend using duct tape to attach the canisters!)  This is a fun game for any age.  If older kids are around, have people hold both ends of the rope and have the kids jump over it (kind of like a lower limbo game but going over instead of under!)  Spoonful Rattlesnake Ideas  You could also add a bit of Nebraska flair and use popcorn to fill the canisters instead of beans.  (Not have any film canisters?  Ask a film developer to save some for you.  Not everyone has moved to digital photos 🙂  )

3) Paper Bag Vests.  Thankfully many parents stayed to help with the party – making a vest for every child would have been quite the chore!  These also turned into craft projects as every child had fun decorating their vest before putting them on.  (Not have any paper bags?  Most grocery stores are glad to donate to the cause, especially if you tell them that you are creating crafts with kids!)

Best example that I found was the Crayola Cowboy Vest.

Cowboy VestAgain – this picture was taken directly from the Crayola website – this was not my kids creation.  Our vests were a bit uneven and really did not make it into pictures.  I was a bit busy just trying to keep the party moving!

4) Rubber band shooters: My sweet husband decided to volunteer to make all of the guests rubber band guns to take home.  They were a HUGE hit, (both literally and figuratively 🙂 .)  Of course so far, I cannot find the link with how to make them.  And I wanted to post of a picture of the hidden project, but my 4 year old hid the gun that has been sitting on the dresser for days.  He is sleeping and waking him would not be such a good idea.  So, I will post it later.

Mini Rubber Band Gun

5) Root beer using dry ice.  This part was the coolest for me.  I took our big three gallon jug, added the ingredients and a block of dry ice.   Our kitchen suddenly looked steamy.  The recipe that I used was found in a book, but I found a similar one online.  I am not sure why I have not made this again – it was that cool.  I think it probably helped that my Dad stuck around and helped with the dry ice part – probably safer for me, the accident-prone one, too!

Homemade Root Beer

Overall our party was hit.  Thanks to lots of people helping (the parents of kids and my Mom who also helped me get organized at the beginning!)  The only downfall – snow.  To be expected in Nebraska in winter, but not the 2nd week-end of October.  The kids stuck it out and played outside for quite awhile but did decide to bring the party indoors.

Cold Cowboys group picture

At least we were smart and put aside the rubber band guns inside.  Or else the party might not have had such a happy ending!

Well, I had hoped to include some more great party ideas, but I am tired.  Then I remembered that is what Pinterest is for!  And I also realize that you probably are not into the thought of a cowboy party at 10:30 on a Saturday night.  But … I had written most of this post earlier in the week and wanted to make sure to share it.  On Monday, I plan on “taking” you to the spot where I celebrated my favorite birthday ever.  And since that really has little to do with cowboys, I decided that I had better post this tonight.  So, sweet dreams! I am definitely ready to hit the hay! 🙂

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