Dora The Explorer Party

Dora Extravaganza 3yr - Adventure Map




Peggy in Harrisburg, PA


September 2006


September 2006 Winner

We hosted a Dora Extravaganza for our 3-year-old, Ayanna's, birthday. 

The invitations were made by using pictures from the internet.  The front of the invitation said, Feliz Cumpleanos! It's a Birthday Fiesta  We then had a picture of Dora and Boots with balloons and confetti.  This was a very colorful picture.  We also used a font that was really fun and used purple ink when printing.  The inside of the invitation had a picture of Boots on the left side.  And the wording was:  She did it!  Ayanna _____ turned 3!  We're having a birthday fiesta to celebrate.  Please join us!  Come on, Vamonos!  Then listed the place, date and time.  We inserted a small picture of Dora (downloaded from the internet).  Then:  Dress comfortably  we will be having a Dora adventure.  RSVP-and our number.  These were printed on 8 1/2  X 11 paper, and quad-folded.  We used envelopes we had purchased at Target in bright yellows and pinks.  We placed a Dora sticker on the back of the envelope.  We printed each child's name on the front of the envelope using bright colored markers and outlined the names in various colors in a starburst effect. 

Because we were unsure of the weather for the day, we had the party in our church basement/gymnasium.  We used the church's rolling partitions to separate the gym into three areas.  One area for the Welcome Table; one area for the Dora Adventure; and one area for the Food Tables.   At the entrance to the gym, the children were greeted by an inflatable 4-foot Dora in a birthday cake (purchased on E-Bay for $5).  As each child arrived, they were taken to a table that was covered with a Dora tablecloth.  In the center of the table was a Dora basket (this was Ayanna's Easter basket, and was simply a basket that looked like Dora's head).  We filled with basket with boxes of crayons (8 for $1 at the Dollar Tree).  On either side of the Dora basket were stacks of coloring pages (printed from Nick, Jr. web site).  These pages included both Dora and Diego.  We also printed the Dora and Diego stand-up cut-outs from the Nick Jr. website and laminated them.  We stood the Dora cut-out on one side of the basket, and the Diego cut-out on the other side of the basket on the table. 

As the children colored their pictures, we allowed them to select a bracelet of their choice.  The bracelets were printed from the Nick, Jr. website.  We elaborated on the bracelet idea by laminating each bracelet that we printed.  We then attached small, Velcro adhesive dots to the bracelets to close them.  They were sturdy, the kids could take them on and off themselves, and they should be able to keep them for a long time after the party.  The children were also given Dora stickers to put on their hands, shirt, pants or wherever they chose.  Behind the Welcome Table, we hung a Dora birthday banner that read, Happy Birthday and Fiesta.  There was a picture of Dora and Boots as a part of the banner as well.  There was a life-sized Dora-shaped mylar balloon and several other colorful balloons tied to the end of the partition.  We had a CD player playing kids party music the entire time. 

Once everyone arrived and had colored pictures for a few minutes, and received a sticker and bracelet, I asked the children if they would like to see Ayanna's birthday cake.  They all said yes.  We went to a large plastic Tupperware tub that was placed against the wall.  When I lifted the lid, instead of the cake, I had a 3 foot picture of Swiper taped to the inside of the lid (I had used a large piece of poster board to draw Swiper, and colored him using crayons and markers  it turned out great).  Having the Swiper in the box worked perfectly, as I had it placed carefully so that it looked like Swiper was standing in the box when I lifted the lid.  We had a baby monitor receiver tucked behind the box, and my sister, Holly, had hidden in another room with the other baby monitor.  When the kids saw Swiper, I said, what do we say when we see Swiper? They all put their hands up and said, Swiper no swiping, Swiper no swiping. Holly broke in, and over the monitor, in her best Swiper voice said, You're toooo late.  You'll never get it now.  I've taken Ayanna's cake to my Secret Hiding Place.  Holly's impersonation was so good that Ayanna got scared and asked me to hold her.  It was priceless.  All the kids were stunned! 

I told them that I didn't know where Swiper's Hiding Place was.  They said they didn't know either.  And I said, Where do we look when we don't know where to go?  They all answered, THE MAP!  At that time, we gave each of them a backpack that we had made.  We used the guide from the Nick Jr. website, and the backpacks were adorable.  Purple craft foam is used for the front, back, and straps for the backpack.  You staple the straps onto the back piece before hole-punching the front and back pieces and sewing those two pieces together with thick, purple yarn.  The back piece is cut a few inches longer and you bring the top of the back piece over the front piece and hold it in place with Velcro  that is the flap of the backpack.  White craft foam was used for the eyes, yellow foam for the eyebrows and red foam for the mouth (we used a picture of the backpack from the Nick Jr. website to make patterns for the face pieces).  We drew black circles on the white oval foam pieces for the eyes, and then traced around each of the face pieces with black marker.  It really added a nice touch.  A small loop of purple craft foam was stapled to the front of the backpack to insert the map. 

To make the map, we took some of the ideas from the pictures of the Map on the Nick Jr. website and used some of our own original ideas.  First we used a piece of green scrapbook paper (8 1/2  X 11) for the background.  We used the frames pictured on the Map from the website.  We colored each frame with bright markers (red, yellow, orange, green, purple), cut them out, and pasted them onto the green paper.  We also framed the entire map with the same design as the Map on the website, coloring it with brightly colored markers as well.  The first location on the map was Crocodile Lake.  We copied a picture from a Dora story book of Crocodile Lake and reduced the picture so that it would fit inside the first frame.  We cut and pasted five different crocodiles and a bridge in the picture.  The second location was Fiesta Forest.  We copied pictures of several palm trees and flowers from a Dora story book and reduced them in size and arranged them inside the second frame.  The last location (and the destination for the party-goers) was Swiper's Hiding Place.  I used stickers that looked like a wooden door and placed a tiny picture of Swiper peeking out from behind the door to represent Swiper's Hiding Place.  We also copied trees and flowers and had them scattered here and there around the map to fill in some of the empty spaces, and put a larger picture of Map in the upper left corner of the map.  We drew a path from Crocodile Lake to Fiesta Forest and from Fiesta Forest to Swiper's Hiding Place.  We rolled the map and made a face (just like Map) to put on the outside of the map.  We took the original to Kinko's, had copies made, and took them home to laminate the entire thing so the kids could roll and unroll them without having their map tear.  The last thing I did was cut around the edges to make it look uneven and torn/worn - just like Map! It was so cute! 

Once each child had their backpack, they each took out the map and reviewed how we were going to get to Swiper's Hiding Place.  First we'd have to cross Crocodile Lake, then go through Fiesta Forest, and on to Swiper's Secret Hiding Place.  Crocodile Lake.  Fiesta Forest.  Swiper's Hiding Place.  We made a big production of trying to find Crocodile Lake.  We looked in our backpacks for something that would help us, and right on top was a pair of binoculars.  Each child put their binoculars around their necks.  We walked around the partition, and once around the partition, we could see Crocodile Lake at the front of the gymnasium.  On the floor we also had stars to follow (since Dora is a Star Catcher).  There were colorful stars scattered in a path from the end of the partition to Crocodile Lake (we purchased the small stars at Party City in bunches of 5  very inexpensive).  We arrived at Crocodile Lake.  Crocodile Lake was a huge blue tarp spread out on the floor.  We scattered and spread iridescent shredding around the tarp and nestled 12 different colored, stuffed crocodiles in the shredding.  (These 12-inch crocodiles were very cute and were purchased from ustoys.com).  To cross Crocodile Lake we had to use the bridge.  The bridge was made using three pieces of poster board taped together  making it almost 9 feet long! 

We painted the poster board with poster paint in the colors of the rainbow. But when we got to the bridge, it was full of holes!  Not just any holes, these holes were all different shapes (square, circle, rectangle, oval, triangle).  We had used the Creative Memories scrapbook cutting tools to cut out large shapes in the bridge.  Each of the shapes that we cut out had been laminated.  When we asked the kids what we could find in our backpacks to help patch the bridge, they each found one of the colorful, laminated shapes.  They had to find where the shape belonged and helped to patch the bridge so that we could all cross the bridge.  Once across the bridge, we started to follow the trail of stars again.  Along the way, we saw Boots.  (I had drawn a picture of Boots on a piece of poster board, and colored him using crayons and markers.  The poster board was hung on a piece of fiberboard and the fiberboard was standing upright against the stage in the gymnasium).  When the kids were saying hello and waving to Boots, they realized there was something wrong!  Boots was missing a boot!  So they had to look in their backpacks to see if they could find something to help Boots.  Each child had a boot that I had drawn and colored with red marker in their backpacks.  On the back of each boot was a piece of double sided tape.  We blindfolded each child, removed the backing from the tape, and allowed them to stick their boot on Boots (not everyone wanted to be blindfolded though)!  Once they did that they received a pack of Dora snacks to put into their backpacks for doing such a great job! 

Then off we went to follow the Star Trail.  We could see Fiesta Forest.  Unfortunately, there was a sleeping bear in the way and we couldn't get into the forest.  Sleeping bear was a huge stuffed bear that we had at our home.  We sat him in front of the forest and placed a sombrero on his head.  I told the children that we couldn't get into the forest until we woke the bear and made him move out of our way.  They looked in their backpacks to find something to help wake the bear and found a maraca.  They had a great time shaking the maraca and calling wake up, bear, wake up, bear until we decided the bear MUST be awake and we moved him out of the way.  Before we entered the forest, I told the kids that Diego had called and asked if we could help him by finding all the baby animals that were lost in Fiesta Forest.  Fiesta Forest was great!  We used 10 of the large, silk plants/trees that the church uses as decorations in the basement.  We placed the plants in two lines in a semi-circle about four feet apart, forming a lane.  To the trees, we tied balloons in several shades of green.  On the floor of the forest, we had large tissue flowers made from brightly-colored tissue paper of red, pink, green, blue, yellow, orange and purple.  These were so pretty!  We also used lime green shredding around the base of the trees.  Among the trees, flowers, and shredding, we had hidden a dozen miniature safari animals.  The kids had a ball searching for the animals in Fiesta Forest.  They kept calling out I found one!  Here's one!  Until all of the animals had been found. 

They were into it now, and had their maps and binoculars out to find Swiper's Hiding Place.  They followed the stars, and they could also see the Hiding Place.  To create Swiper's Hiding Place, we used two refrigerator boxes placed together to create one long tunnel.  We covered the entire thing, including the flaps on one end, with plain, brown mailing paper.  We crumpled the brown paper first to give it some texture before taping it onto the boxes.  We pulled the flaps together on the end to form a door.  We used a piece of brown paper (about 6 inches by 6 inches) and taped it across the flaps so that they would not open.  On that small piece of paper, we drew a large lock. In the center of the lock, we cut a slit with a knife.  No one could see the slit.  When the children arrived at the tunnel that led to Swiper's Hiding Place, the door was locked and they realized they would need a key to open it.  We looked around and couldn't find the key.  Then we realized!  The key must be hidden in the pinata!  Just next to the tunnel, we had hung a Dora pinata (it looked just like Dora, and was purchased from Oriental Trading)  Many of the children had never seen a pinata, and we explained that when they pulled the strings, the bottom would open and toys and stickers and candy would come out.  We gave them each a brown, paper lunch bag in which to place their goodies.  Then they each held a string and when they pulled, the bottom opened and out spilled Dora zipper pulls, Diego zipper pulls, Diego telescopes, Dora star bubbles, Dora and Diego stickers, tootsie rolls, lollipops, and Razzles.  They all scrambled to grab the goodies and while they were busy doing that, I grabbed the key from the place it was hidden (on the Dora pinata) and tossed it onto the ground amid the goodies.  The one little boy found it and grabbed it and was yelling, The key!  I found the key!  Then all the kids were yelling, He found the key!  They were so excited. 

We made the key by drawing an oversized picture of a key onto cardboard (about 12 inches).  We covered both sides of the key with gold scrapbook paper.  On one side, we cut out and placed a tiny picture of Swiper.  We laminated the entire thing, and strung colorful, striped ribbon through the middle hole on the end.  It was very appealing to the kids.  They were excited about their goodies, but wanted to give me the key to open the door to Swiper's Hiding Place.  We took the key, slid it into the slit in the lock and I turned it and pulled and the door opened.  We looked in and saw that it was dark in the tunnel.  We told them to look in their backpacks for something to help them and they found their miniature flashlights.  They turned them on and went into the tunnel.  The tunnel was placed at one end of a partition.  When they got through the tunnel, they were on the other side of the partition. 

The side of the partition that had been hidden from site, and there they found Ayanna's CAKE, decorations, and all the food!  Everyone cheered and clapped!  They were very excited.  We gave each guest a YOU DID IT coloring paper from the Nick, Jr. website.  Because the cake was the thing they were looking for on this adventure, we wanted to make it something really special.  My co-worker makes cakes and she did a phenomenal job on this one.  It was three tiers (10-inch, 8-inch and 6-inch).  The tiers were covered with lime green fondant.  Each tier was then draped with bright yellow fondant which covered just the top inch of each tier and was scalloped on the edge.  Each tier had balls of orange fondant where the tiers joined and around the bottom.  The sides of each tier were decorated with three sizes of purple stars (small, medium and large) and orange swirl designs every here and there.  The topper was awesome.  It was made using bright yellow craft foam.  The foam was cut into very thin strips (about 1/8 of an inch) and formed it into a tall decoration (about 8 inches high) of loops and swirls.  The foam form was intertwined with a glittery, gold wire decoration with stars attached allowing it to be stiff and stand up with curly strands here and there.  It was the most awesome cake ever!  We added a few mini Dora cake decorations to each tier and three bright orange candles just before we sang Happy Birthday. 

The cake was in the center of the table.  We used a lime green tablecloth on the table.  There was a place setting for each guest with a Dora plate, Dora napkin, Dora blowout, Dora party hat, and yellow utensils.  We also had purple, green and yellow swirl-shaped confetti scattered on the table.  Tied to every chair was a balloon of either orange, green, yellow, blue or pink.  Tied to Ayanna's chair was a cluster of balloons with a round, Dora mylar balloon in the center.  We sang Happy Birthday to Ayanna and she blew out her candles.  Then we served beef and chicken taquitoes, Mexican roll-ups, salsa and chips, vegetables and dip, fresh fruit cubes, brownie bites, flavored pound cake, the cake and ice cream.  We had all this food on a side table that was also covered with a lime green tablecloth.  On that table, we used a Dora centerpiece that was a honeycomb palm tree with a picture of Dora and her friends.  We had yellow plates, orange napkins and green utensils on that table for the kids parents and other guests to use.  We had juice boxes for everyone so we didn't have to bother with pouring drinks.  Eating took awhile, and after eating, it was time to open gifts. 

The gift table was covered in plain brown paper, and the edge of the table was draped with a garland of bright green, pink, yellow and blue. A dress-up Dora stood on the table and we had her dressed in the Dora Birthday outfit and Happy Birthday tiara.  After the gifts were opened, the kids ran around, went back into the jungle to try to find more animals, did the bridge shape puzzle over and over, and went through the tunnel again and again.  There were several things that we planned to do, but they didn't happen.  We wanted to take a picture of each child with a life-sized drawing of Dora.  We planned to do that as soon as the guests arrived.  Take them aside one by one while they were all coloring and get the picture.  We were going to print the pictures immediately, and laminate them onto a Dora placemat for use at the table.  It was to be a surprise.  That didn't happen because our portable printer wasn't working properly AND the person who was to draw the life-sized Dora picture got sick at the last minute and couldn't finish the picture of Dora.  We also considered using sombreros for the chips on the table.  However the cake and plates, etc., took up so much room we figured we didn't need them.  One last thing was serving Dora crackers and Star cookies.  With so much other food, it really wasn't necessary, so we didn't bother.  As it turned out, we had plenty to eat and no one noticed these few exclusions. 

This party required a lot of preparation and cooperation from our family, but to see the kids faces, it was all worth it.  They had a great time.  The children left with so many goodies (stuffed crocodiles, maracas, their own Backpack and Map, binoculars, a box of crayons and pictures to color, stuffed mini jungle animals, the pinata goodies, party hats and balloons).  And the birthday girl had her DORA party!  The Thank You notes have a picture of Dora and Boots on the front.  The inside reads, Muchas Gracias!  ON the inside:  Thanks for coming to my party.  What was your favorite part?  Mine was having you there to help me celebrate.  Thanks for my..gift.  Love, Ayanna.  We included a picture of the child with Ayanna in each thank you card.

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