Let’s go hunt some bugs!
Do you have one of those kids who comes running to you, bug in hand, asking for a jar so he (or she!) could have a home for the new “pet”? If so, and if they are in the 3-10 year old range, then a bug-themed birthday party is probably a good idea! When I was searching for ideas for my 6-year-old son’s recent party, I ran across some good websites but I didn’t end up using most of their ideas. Here’s what we did, with pics; I hope it gives you some buggy fun times!
I chose 4 snacks instead of a full meal. The first one was more for effect than nutritional value. The kids ate REAL BUGS! Baked, of course. We bought Larvets and Crickettes from Hotlix. I think each child did eventually eat some; my kids ate the most though! I got the idea from the SD Wild Animal Park; during H’ween we visited and my son got chosen to go up front at their bug show. He ate a bacon-flavored cricket in front of the whole amphitheatre! The bugs are pretty crunchy and you only taste whatever flavor they’ve been dipped in, but it is fun for the effect.
The next snack was the classic, “ants on a log” celery and peanut butter favorite, with raisins sprinkled on top. Healthy and filling! If you have to worry about peanut allergies, this may not be the snack for you, but I’ve found most kids love them!
The second snack was a little more unusual: “Spider Eggs“! I bought a couple of egg molds from Jell-O, their “Jiggler” mold (recipe is here). I made the recipe with lemon jello, according to their directions, but added some yogurt to get the whitish-yellow color I was looking for. Then, when the eggs were half-set, I dropped in a few raisins as baby “spiders.” Another idea is to buy tiny plastic spiders and put those in, I tried but couldn’t find any in time for the part. They tasted great!
The last snack: birthday cupcakes. Little fingers seem to like cupcakes so we did the “Cupcake Caterpillar” cake. Our “caterpillar” looked more like a “centipede” because of the toothpicks we used for legs.
Other decorations: Smarties (the Canadian version of M&M’s), sprinkles, lemon frosting, and graham cracker crumbs for “dirt.” We decided to take the paper off the cupcakes so the kids could just grab one, that’s entirely optional. Note for frosting: try to spread some between cupcakes for continuity.
We planned several, weather permitting. The general organizing motif for the party was “The Great Bug Hunt” and the invitations were bug and hunter themed. Depending on how many kids showed up, we were going to have one or two groups. If you have enough kids for two groups, you can do a competitive scavenger-hunt where the groups rotate between activities/stations. We just had everybody do them all together at ours as it was a rainy day and turnout was lower than we expected.
The activities are planned to lead up to catching the biggest bug, which at our party was a black spider pinata filled with candy. It was creepy-looking enough to make me wanna smack it! If you can’t find a pinata this video will show you how to make your own pinata. Pinatas are a great way to give the party favors out, just give the kids their own goodie bags and watch them go crazy when the pinata finally breaks open! On a bug-themed party you could throw in some plastic bugs as favors too.
Our first activity occurred as the kids arrived. I painted a spider or ladybug on each kids’ face or hand. I had bought a Klutz face-painting book complete with facepaint for Halloween, and that’s what I used at the party. Their book has both spider and ladybug directions. (ps – I don’t get any money for mentioning them, I just think they make good products in general). Another idea is camouflage paint, which I would have done if I’d had more time.
Next the kids went on a “training mission” to get them ready to hunt bugs. We hid a plethora of plastic bugs around our table area and the kids (and Dads!) had a blast hunting them all down. Plastic bugs are easy to find at dollar stores or party stores.
Next up on our list of activities was making “sun art” – special paper that’s light sensitive. You place several items on the paper, then expose it to sunlight. It’s like taking a picture and like drawing a picture. Very cool activity for any sunny day! Unfortunately, our day was rainy so we didn’t do this activity. However, all you need to do is have the kids hunt out some cool decorations: leaves, flowers, toys, anything that makes a cool shadow. Then help them carefully place the items on the paper. The Sun Art package we bought (available through many online sources, we bought ours at Fat Brain Toys) came with a handy clear plastic cover to help keep items in place as the sun worked. Once the paper changes color, rinse it and let dry and voila! Sun art! Note: we cut the paper into strips to fit into our bug jar party favors, see below.
Target practice was next! We bought some silly-string and had the kids stand in two lines. Then they had 5 seconds each to shoot at the target, after which time they had to run to the back of the line. The kids who had the best aim each got a little gift, bug books. You can download this image as your target if you like, it seemed appropriately themed!
We had our snack break in between target practice and pinata time.
Finally, after the pinata the kids got their last party favor: the World’s Best Bug Jar. This bug jar is seriously cool, with 2x and 4x magnification as well as air holes. Our kids have used theirs a lot since the party. (Two days ago it was a home to wet earthworms during a rain ). We had bought real ladybugs from our local nursery (1500 in one little package) and each child took home a bug jar filled with ladybugs to set loose in their garden. Ladybugs eat aphids, which is why I figured the parents wouldn’t be too upset at getting real bug gifts. We had also planned on sending the kids home with their Sun Art papers, trimmed to fit inside the bug jars or taped around (we used the original label as a size guide). Getting real bugs seemed to be a highlight for the boys who came to the party, and I think that they’ll probably be using these jars for a long time to come. And in our house, it really cuts down on the misuse of canning jars! An alternative idea is to give baby food or canning jars with holes poked in the lids. These bug jars were $3.50 each.
There you go! A plethora of bug-themed birthday party ideas. I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you use any of these ideas, or have some of your own – I’ve got another party coming up in 11 months! =D