Pirate Party

Yo Ho Ho Pirate Party - Ocean in a Bottle




K. C. in Tampa, Florida  U.S.A.


May 2001


May 2001 Winner

YO HO HO PIRATE PARTY - Duration:  2 hours.  (My younger daughter has learning disabilities and pretty significant visual/perceptual and fine motor skills problems.  I needed to design her eighth birthday party to accommodate her deficiencies and to give a good time to the "special" AND "typical" kids -- boys and girls.) I had the birthday girl's older sister and a friend as paid party helpers. I also enlisted the birthday girl's grandmother, her father, and a couple of mothers of guests as additional helping hands.    

LOCATION:  The party was held on our front porch, sidewalk in front of our house, the living room and the back yard.  Fortunately, between my relatives and our own stash we had plenty of folding chairs and four folding tables.    

SETTING THE SCENE:  To hold the guest's loot, I stenciled each child's name on a paper grocery bag.  Then I covered the grocery store logo with a treasure map I made.  I burned the edges of the map for an antique look.  This looked GREAT, but it was tons of work and I'm pretty sure the kids did not appreciate it enough to make it worthwhile -- the parents were pretty impressed, though.  I set up two tables (without chairs) on our front porch and covered them with black plastic tablecloths I bought at the dollar store.  This is where the kids would make the craft, "Ocean in a Bottle".  Our Schifflera (spelling???) tree on the front porch was decorated with black and red balloons and crepe paper and small plastic skeletons (also purchased from Dollar store).  I had a blow up parrot (recycled from a previous luau party) tied to the porch swing.  I also inserted small pirate flags (from party store) into the chains holding the swing up.  I hung a skeleton I made from gallon plastic jugs (directions from Family Fun Craft book) from one of the lights by the front door.  I glued a paper pirate hat on him and tied a bunch of helium filled balloons to his hand (the balloons had my daughters name and Happy Birthday printed on them -- bought these at the Party Store). 

I also had a couple of gold and silver round Mylar helium filled balloons tied to the light fixtures by the front steps (these represented pirate treasure).  Our front door has a big glass panel and I put a poster I made with a purchased cardboard pirate flag in the center and various stuff I put on it on the outside.  On the inside(living room side), I hung the poster of a treasure island map that would become the "Pin the X on the Map" game.  On one wall of the living room we have built in shelves for books, stereo and t.v.  I got on a ladder and hung red and black crepe paper streamers from the very top (practically at the ceiling) all the way down to the floor.  This covered the face of the whole built-in.  Then I attached paper pirate hats and the small pirate flags at various intervals.  It looked pretty neat!  I had two more folding tables set up in the living room (couch etc. pushed back) which I covered with red plastic Dollar store tablecloths.  These tables had the folding chairs around them.  I put the pirate cake (purchased) on the dining room table which was covered with more red plastic tablecloths. 

The luau party's palm tree pinata centerpiece, that was purchased from Oriental Trading company, [it's always helpful to have compatible parties for the kids so I can recycle decorations etc.] and some of my daughters' tropical Beanie Babies formed the island centerpiece.  I hung cardboard fish that my middle daughter and I had made for her September luau party from the brass chandelier over the table to give it a nautical flair.  In the back yard, I taped some black and red balloons to the swing set and the fence.  I also draped the left over crepe paper streamers in one of our smaller trees.  I did not have to use a lot of stuff in the back yard, (It was only the site of the treasure hunt), but I wanted it to look piratical. Note:  We live in the city proper and have a smallish, urban lot.        

THE PARTY:  On arrival, each child found their nametag (names were already written on them by me) which had a Pirate Sticker on it (ordered the Pirate stickers from Dover Books).  When they all arrived each made an "Ocean in a Bottle" with vinegar, oil, blue food coloring, and small sea beads.  After this activity, the children were divided into two teams and played a "Walk the Plank" relay, which involved walking on a board on the ground and getting silver ingots (balled up aluminum foil) from each team's treasure chest.  Second place received construction paper medals and chose one piece of candy from the treasure box.  First place received construction paper medals and chose two pieces of candy from the treasure box.  Next, we played "Hot Crab" which was Hot Potato except with a sand stuffed crab that I got at the Dollar Store. I used "We are the Pirates who don't do Anything" from a Veggie Tales CD as the music, because I think it is a hilarious song and it mentions our city, Tampa, in it.  [Other possibilities are "I am a Pirate King" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, or the theme from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride.] As each child was eliminated, he/she got a skeleton head lollipop (I ordered these from Oriental Trading Company, but subsequently saw some at my local supermarket).  The winner got a lollipop AND got to keep the crab.     

We then played "Pin the X on the Treasure Map".  I drew my own map on posterboard and drew the X's on circles of construction paper.  I pre-printed the children's names on the circles, so we'd know which X was whose.  Each child got a stretchy skeleton, could select a piece of candy from the treasure box, and received "I played Pin the X on the Treasure Map" construction paper medal.  The one closest to the actual X got to select from two prizes (a Treasure Island coloring book or Dover Press sticker book about sharks -- the winner chose Treasure Island, by the way) and got a special "Closest to the X" construction paper medal. The one farthest away got the other prize and a "Booby Prize" medal.      We then had a treasure hunt in the back yard.  Because of my daughter's difficulty with reading, the children hunted for "treasure" cards (sort of like an Easter egg hunt.) I'd glued a picture to each card (Pirate Hat, Parrot, Skeleton, Shark and Treasure Chest) and each was a color.  There were enough cards and then some for each child to be successful in finding all five.  Once a guest had found all five different cards he/she returned to the porch to turn each in for a selection of "treasure".  I had five stations that matched the cards and the children could select their own "treasure" from each station.      

After the treasure hunters had bagged all their loot, we had cake and opened the gifts.  Then the kids went back out front to draw pirate flags (or whatever they wanted) with sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk until their parents came.  I had made oars from rolled newspaper and cardboard for a Boat Relay in case I ran out of activities, but I did not need to have this game and the above stuff took up the whole two hours. 

My daughter told me she loved this party and I received several positive comments from guests and/or their parents, so I think it's a pretty good one.   DETAILS: "Ocean in a Bottle".  INGREDIENTS:  clean, empty individual soda or water bottle for each child - label removed, and child's name pre-written on cap with Sharpie marker; vinegar (enough to fill 1/2 each bottle; for example, for sixteen ounce bottle you would need 8 ounces of vinegar for each child); vegetable oil (enough to fill 1/2 of each bottle); funnels (at least one for every three kids.  The ideal would be one for each child.);  glue or hot glue gun;  optional are blue food coloring (a few drops can color the whole batch of vinegar), glitter, plastic sea life beads that are small enough to fit through the bottle opening, and/or small shells that will fit in opening.  DIRECTIONS: Have a bottle at each place with the oil already measured out and poured in.  Have the vinegar (already tinted blue, if you're doing that) pre-measured into paper cup at each place.  The kids get to pour the vinegar in (and watch the oil rise through it to the top).  They then can add any embellishments you might have -- beads, glitter, shells etc.  Then have them take the bottles over to a glue station where an adult glues the caps on (so when the children play with their ocean there are no leaks).   

"Walk the Plank" Relay.  PREPARATION:  Need two boards.  My neighbor had a scrap piece he let me have to cut in half to make two.  I thought about elevating the board on concrete blocks, but decided that with my group, the potential for an excited, racing kid to fall off and skin a knee was too great for my comfort.  If you want to elevate the "plank" you'll need some concrete blocks.  You could also draw a plank on a sidewalk with chalk and make sure the kids walked inside it.  I balled up foil to make two balls for each guest - the ingots.  I made two treasure chests from four grocery bags.  I rolled a collar down on each bag as far as I could go.  I made two cardboard "hinges" from  the sides of a cereal box -- I scored each cardboard at the half and glued it to the inside of the bags.  I drew "wood" with a black Sharpie on the bags and made yellow construction paper locks and handles.  You also need two boxes or bags (one for each team).  You could stop there, but I also made two pirate "caves" to put the chests in.    

Pirate Cave directions:  I got the instructions for the newspaper geodesic dome from Family Fun Magazine of a couple of years ago.   For each dome, you need 100 sheets of double newspaper.  Spread four sheets of newspaper together as if you are reading it.  Begin to roll a tube of newspaper from a corner.  You can use a pencil to guide you, but don't try to roll it around the pencil.  Tape tube shut with clear packing tape.  Make twenty five tubes.  Cut off floppy ends.  Then make tubes all the same size.  With fifteen tubes, make five triangles and staple (heavy duty stapler) or tape together end to end. Take five tubes and staple or tape their ends together so the tubes radiate outward from a central point.  It will look like five spokes or perhaps a flower -- this is the top.  Put the top aside.  Using the last five tubes, staple or tape tubes to join the peaks of the attached triangles together and have the last of the five tubes attached to the last peak and hanging off into space.  With another person, stand up the structure and form it into a five-sided thing.  Staple or tape it together.  Then get the top and attach the ends to each triangle peak.  Your structure will now stand and you can cover it w/tissue paper or leave it plain.  Kids up to about age 10 can crawl through an open triangles to get inside.]

TO PLAY:  Make two teams.  The object is to be the first team to get all your silver ingots from your treasure chest to your team's box.  Set up planks.  Put foil balls in chests (two for each guest if a relatively small party, one for each guest if a large party) and put chests at end of route (or at end of route inside newspaper "caves").  At go the team members walk the plank, run to the "cave" crawl in and get a silver ingot, run back, put ingot into their team's box and tag the next player.  If a small party, each player will go twice.

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