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Titanic Party

Titanic Birthday -6yr- Backyard Titanic




Michelle in Vernon, CT USA


August 2005



Titanic Birthday Party  My son and his cousins have been fascinated with the story of the Titanic, so he was thrilled when I suggested a Titanic theme for his 6th birthday party in July, 2005. 

For invitations, I looked up Titanic tickets on the web and made a similar looking invitation on printshop, complete with a picture of the Titanic from the web, similar background, stating it was a first class ticket aboard the Titanic, and personalized it with party info and the receiver's name. 

Since the party was in the summer, I planned outdoor events and crossed my fingers.

For decorations, I transformed our yard into the Titanic.   At the end of the driveway, I created a "dock" out of nylon rope and small metal poles leftover from a broken tent we had in the back of our yard. I used two large garden stakes hidden under cardboard tubes that were all taped together with blue painter's tape so they were tall enough for the kids to walk under. I made a banner on the computer that said "Welcome Aboard the Titanic" that the kids could walk under and onto the Titanic.

I spraypainted brown lines leading from the "dock" to the "Titanic" which was our playscape.  The playscape was marked with signs (made on the computer) for different locations of the parts of the Titanic: the upper part of the playscape (where they could climb up onto a wooden platform, also we happened to have two steering wheels) was the "Bridge"; underneath the Bridge (normally where people have a sandbox under the upper platform of a playscape) was the "Boiler Room; and the area with the swings was labeled the "Gymnasium". We have a small plastic outdoor playhouse which was the "Crow's Nest"; our small pool was the "Pool"; I set up two small tables and chairs with munchies for the "Dining Area", and the area of the lawn where we played games was the "Deck".   

For the "Boiler Room", I spraypainted 2 cardboard boxes black (free from a local warehouse store), placed them on their sides, and taped a "door" out of cardboard so it could swing open and shut - these were the "boilers". I cut up lots of cardboard tubes and spraypainted them black; they were the "coal" that the kids could shovel (with small plasic shovels) in and out of the boiler - more coal into the boilers to make the ship go faster, and close the door to slow the "fire" and slow the ship. 

For the "funnels" on top of the Titanic, I painted 4 white poster boards antique gold, taped them in tube shapes, cut up 4 black poster boards, used smaller pieces to make shorter tubes, and taped them above the gold tubes. I angled the tops to look just like the real Titanic funnels (I looked up library books on the Titanic for details). I taped criss-cross cardboard pieces on the bottom of the funnels and tied them on top of the playscape so it looked like the Titanic. 

Activities:   In the very beginning, I closed off the "dock" with a rope so all the children would enter together. I made a poster board with pictures of the Titanic and told the kids the brief story about what happened to the titanic and showed them the pictures, in case they were not aware of it. The I opened the rope and they all went into the yard together. 

1. Group race: sail the Titanic through the icebergs: I made 4 cardboard Titanics out of 2 huge watermelon boxes from a local warehouse store - also free. The boxes were about 4 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter; I cut off the bottoms, cut the sides them down to half size, and (as they were very flexible once the bottoms were cut out) I reshaped them to long thin rectangles. I cut 8 "portholes" in the sides so that 4 children standing single file in a row could stand inside them and put their arms through the portholes to carry the boat together. I painted the "boats" black, and stapled 4 small "funnels" to each boat (white poster board painted antique gold again, with black posterboard on top of each funnel, stapled with staple gun to the inside of the boats, very safe because the boat cardboard was about 1 inch thick) 

I made captain's hats for all the children (cheap white and black fabric and gold braiding at discount store; the band of the hat was black fabric inlaid with black poster board to hold it's shape, top was loose-falling white fabric; the brim was black fabric also inlaid with black poster board to hold its shape). I wrote each child's names in their own hat so they wouldn't get lost or confused. I added gold stars and a anchor decoration (gold iron-ons at a fabric store) for my son so he would stand out a bit since he was the birthday boy.  

Then I made "icebergs" from tomato cages from our garden (I stuffed old pillows inside the top of the cages to give them some form and covered them with white sheets; the cages poked into the ground and held up pretty well; they actually kind of looked like small icebergs)  In teams of 4 (we had 16 children, so this worked out perfectly), one team at a time, the children had to navigate their boats as a team through a small maze of 5 icebergs without hitting any of them. The team who did it the fastest won (we just clapped and didn't bother with prizes) - the kids had a blast with this! 

2. Don't Hit the Iceberg: an opposite goal of the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey: I bought a blue foam posterboard, printed off pictures of iceberg clip art from the computer and taped them all over the board, then laminate the board with clear contact paper. Then I printed off pictures of the titanic, taped them to cardboard and laminate them with clear contact paper so each child had a small carboard titanic. With eyes covered, each child had to place their titanic on the board on a place where there was NO iceberg. (by laminating them all, the hids could keep their little titanics, and the kids could not feel where the icebergs were with their hands).  

3. Titanic Relay: I cut 8 black poster boards into the shape of the Titanic (like a silhouette) and laminated them with clear contact paper. The children were split into 4 teams. Each team received 2 Titanic shapes; the goal was for each player, one at a time, to travel around an iceberg (without hitting it)stepping only on the Titanic shapes they had. I was surprised by this game - it took a long time for each child to do this and it required a great deal of their concentration (compared with other games). As it went on, I thought the children would lose interest, but they worked really hard and were very persistent - every child did it! They were very focused, and I was very impressed! 

4. The Sinking of the Titanic: I was sure to tell all the children in the beginning that our Titanic had enough lifeboats for everyone, and everyone would make it off the ship safely. The kids spent a lot of time pretending on the playscape, in the boiler room, taking turns being the lookouts and the captain. Then I announced that the Titanic had hit an iceberg and was sinking. I took the funnels off the 4 titanic boats became the lifeboats (which worked out well, because the funnels did not stay on well anyway; it was very humid, and they were folding over on themselves, even though I had reinforced them with cardboard), and told the children to get in the lifeboats, and make their way to the "Carpathia" - the ship that had picked up the Titanic survivors  (we had set up a tent in another part of the yard with the cake, presents and food; the grownups had hung out largely in this area; I had placed a banner on it that read "The Carpathia" - it had been covered with blank paper, and I uncovered it at this point). The children sailed their "lifeboats" to the tent - again, groups of 4 walking single file, together carrying each boat. 

5. Discovering the Titanic: once the children had gotten out of the "lifeboats", I aksed if they wanted to discover the Titanic on the "ocean floor". We had a large wooden sandbox right near the tent; I had put together 16 small wooden Titanic models in advance ($2 each from a craft store; about 6 inches long, complete with funnels; unfinished) and purchased a bunch of cheap party favors - things that might have been on the titanic - plastic gemstone rings, bead necklaces, plastic compasses, plastic gold coins, small wooden life preservers, like 2 inches diameter, on clearance, tiny plastic musical instruments - the band played on the deck of the titanic. I had put them on top of the sand in the sandbox earlier in the day and covered the sandbox with a plastic tarp. I uncovered the sandbox, and in groups of 4, the children claimed one of each type of favor from the "ocean floor" and put them in their favor bags (I gave them the bags at this point -each bag had a picture of the Titanic taped to it, and the child's name on it so we could keep everyone's "treasures" together.

Once they selected their treasures, they made their way over to a plasic tablecloth on the ground where there were paints and paintbrushes to paint their own titanic. The kids really got into this - they just loved to paint! I had gold, black, white and red (the colors of the Titanic) assuming children would want them to be realistic, but I included other colors just in case. Turns out that most kids just painted them their favorite colors and mixed up the colors - they were very creative! We used white kitchen garbage bags with holes cut out for the head and arms as "smocks", and it was washable paint, so cleanup was pretty easy.  Afterwards, we had cake, icecream, and opened the presents.

The cake was simply a large sheet cake, single layer. I colored white fondant that I purchased at a craft store with blue and green frosting coloring, and mixed it enough so it was very blue, but it also still had fant streaks of colors to look like waves. I spread it out on top of the cake (with my husband's help and shaped it to the cake - it was like working with pie dough; it was the easiest frosting job I had ever done!) I had purchased a 3D jigsaw puzzle of the Titanic I had found on ebay, (it had GREAT detail) and made it with my son. I put that on the cake, with a piece of wax paper underneath it so it would not get oily from the fondant. The I took a piece of tinfoil, balled it up, flatted out the bottom, covered it with white frosting, and put it right next to the 3D Titanic puzzle on the cake so it became the "iceberg" that the titanic hit.  

After presents were opened, all the kids went in the pool - it was a small pool, so we didn't have a lot of room, but it was a hot day, so it was very refreshing, and the kids loved it.  The kids took home their wooden painted Titanics, captains' hats, and trinkets thay had "discovered" on the "ocean floor", plus some small bags of cookies I added to the goody bags.

All in all, everyone had a blast (parents included) - the kids were so excited, and loved playing pretend - plus they were so cute for us to watch as they did the activities! It helped that the attendees were all aged 3 thru 7, so all the children were ble to do all the activities very easily.  I received comments from my sister and our friends and family that the kids talked about the party for days afterward. It was the most challenging party I had ever attenpted, and definitely a ton of work; fairly inexpensive, as I tried to reuse things from our home, and saved coupons for all the craft stores each week. Most expenses were wooden titanic models and all the paint and posterboard. I was exhausted by the time it was over, but it was also the best party we've had yet - and I had a lot of fun too!

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