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Train Party

Train Party -3yr - Lost Luggage Hunt




Kylie-Anne in Mt Colah, NSW, Australia


January 2005


Special Mention

I had a train theme party for my 3 yr old son.  

Invitations: The front said ALL ABOARD! THE PARTY TRAIN FOR LUKE’S 3RD BIRTHDAY Inside said Departing: (time & date); Leaving from: surname Station; The dining car will be open for light refreshments (so they knew it wasn’t lunch); Please reserve your seat toot sweet! Just for fun, I made little old fashioned cardboard tickets with This ticket entitles child’s name to ride the Party Train with the date ‘stamped’ on the end, & put them inside the invite. I got some great fonts free from www.dafont.com {train fonts: Eisenbahn, Toy Train, AlphaSmoke, stamp fonts: Stamp Act, Caracura, Ticket Capitals Impressed}

Setting the Scene:I was lucky to be able to turn his cubby house into a train engine and made railroad crossing signs & surname Station signs. I downloaded train songs & train sound effects from the internet & burnt onto a cd for a background soundtrack & pass-the-parcel music.

For free train sound effects go to: http://www.grsites.com/sounds/trains001.shtmlthese are .wav files http://www.vintagetrains.co.uk/vt_sounds.htm  these are mp3 files http://www.steamsounds.org.uk/0410.htmlbigger files For free kids train songs go to: http://www.freekidsmusic.com/music.html  Aidan’s Train is a cute train song but it took me about 12min to download Lets Play Trains is ‘daddy’ not wanting to play trains, so not recommended Drivin’ My Train took about 15min to download but is a good song.

Activities: The party started with free play on the cubby train & eating, then we had organised games. With this age group you need a couple of other parents to help guide the children. I alternated rowdy exciting games with quieter sitting still activities so they wouldn’t get over excited or restless. It seemed to work quite well. (I think 3 is too young for competitive games.)

Balloon Bounce Simple game of bouncing balloons on sheet held by all kids. All balloons came off very quickly but then kids enjoyed playing with balloons. I recommend an elasticized fitted sheet - easier for the kids to keep hold of. I used a single sheet; I think a double might be better. Rowdy game. Good one for leaving kids to it while getting next thing ready.

Train Cookies: I had a table set with raw cookies cut into train shape & plates of lollies. The kids decorated their cookies with the lollies, then I had a helper bake them & put them in the kids’ party bags to take home, while we played the next game. The cookies were on baking paper that was labeled so the kids got their own back. Some stuck to the paper & broke. They come off the tray much better. Good to have ready-made spares to replace badly broken ones. They seemed to enjoy this activity but some children finish much sooner than other - need something to occupy them until others finished. The uncooked trains can be frozen (so you can make them weeks ahead) but defrost them the day before, then keep in fridge until needed.

Lost Luggage Hunt: While the kids were busy inside doing the cookies, I hid parcels on the deck for a treasure hunt. The parcels wrapped in brown paper & string with old-fashioned luggage tags had been in a box labeled Left Luggage, where the children could see. After hiding them I told the kids Postman Pat’s parcels were missing and asked them to find them. With older kids you could ask them to find their own parcels, but I just got them to find what they could & put them back in the box; then when all were found I had my son give them out (to teach him about giving). The older kids found all the parcels while the younger kids just stood around looking lost themselves. May have been better to say find one parcel, then sit down. One of the parcels had no name tag - it was for pass the parcel - so one game led to the next. 

Pass The Parcel: For this age you have to have a prize under each layer - one for each child. Younger & more impatient kids should be first - outer layers. Sit older kids between younger kids to help keep parcel moving. Wrapping needs to be easy to remove but can’t be loose. Balloon Popping I put small prizes (e.g. small whistle, glitter pen, hair clips) inside balloons, then blew up the balloons & stuck to the ceiling of the deck behind the train. I used white, silver & dark blue balloons & said it was smoke & steam from the train that we had to get rid of. I had a light weight stick (pool ‘noodle’) with a pin at the end to pop the balloons.

After popping a balloon, each child gets the prize that comes out - cross between a lucky dip & a pinata. Although some mothers said their kids don’t like balloons popping, they didn’t get upset. You need to be close by to grab stick if they drop it. I could easily see what prizes were inside the balloons.  I don’t think it really mattered for this young age, but black balloons might be better.  I suggest taping balloons to ceiling rather than hanging loosely. Good having a few extra with just confetti for the kids that want to pop more. 

Prizes: I had trouble finding train related prizes, like stickers, so I bought some Thomas fabric & made up some simple draw-string bags very cheaply. But I think they were just as happy with the non-train prizes.  Party Bags: I used brown paper bags with coloured paper name label in shape of train stuck on front; and made little paper handles. Inside was a few pages with trains to colour-in & train poems/songs; a lolly train made out of mini choc bars, marshmallow rope, smarties, (m&ms), etc, personalised cup, the cookies they’d made, a balloon which I’d blown up, written thank you & drawn a train, then let down - for them to blow up at home. 

Food: It was after lunch, so not much food was required (they’d rather play games).  I put popcorn (very popular) in the carriages of his large toy trains; Arranged square crackers (with cheese & tomato) & little round crackers (mini Ritz) into basic shape of train with many carriages; & brownies. Don’t forget to cater for adults too (e.g. savories, juice, beer, tea). 

Cake: I made a big train engine with a flattish loaf/bar cake as base, about half a taller loaf cake on end for the cab. The round boiler can be a Swiss roll cake, but I used an empty tin can as a cake tin which worked well and tasted better (only fill ½ to 2/3 full or will spill over).   Choc biscuits wheels; also choc biscuits under cake lifts it off the board a bit so it’s more realistic - also means there’s enough choc biscuits for everyone. I used various lollies to decorate. The smoke-stack was made from choc coated (optional) middle section of ice-cream cone.

I put a skewer down the middle of the smoke-stack into cake, to support the fairy-floss (cotton-candy) smoke/steam. (I don’t think they minded it was blue!) Don’t put fairy-floss in until the very last minute because the humidity in the air melts it (don't put in fridge either).  The left over section of  loaf cake & a 3rd  loaf cake made 2 wagons which were piled with left-over lollies.  All on track made of musk sticks & licorice strips, with choc sprinkles (nonpareils) b/n as gravel. 

General: I labeled cheap plastic cups with the same train name labels as on the party-bags so kids wouldn’t share cups (& I quickly washed them at end so they could take them home). I allocated a colour for each child (same for cup, party-bag, parcels, name tag) so the kids who can’t read could hopefully remember their colour.  I had the party bags hanging in the party area, so they could put their prizes inside & not lose them.  Ask someone else to take the photos (& video?)if possible, leaving you free to run things.

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