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Posted by Mama Max - - 1 comments

One look at Pinterest will give you a gazillion fancy-pants ideas for Lego themed parties... from beautiful party favours to amazing cakes, you will see it all and more! I had a good go at replicating some of these ideas and even came up with a few of my own.

However, one thing I often struggle to find when planning a party is ideas for games & activities outside the normal pinata and pin-the-tail-on-the-BLANK type of things. This is especially tricky the older the kids become as they begin to get quite discerning. While a bunch of 4 year olds will happily entertain themselves with a few hours of side-by-side playing, older kids can easily get quite raucous and need something a bit more challenging!

This was the case recently, when the Big One asked for a Lego themed party for his 8th birthday. To be honest, I was hoping that as he approached his tweens I would be able to get away with taking a few of his close friends to the cinema or something similarly 'grown up' but he was insistent he wanted a party. I was pleased to indulge him as this will probably be the last big 'party' for him at home until he wants to illicitly invite a load of unwashed hooligan teenagers around to ours for a bit of underage drinking and general carnage (he will live to regret it if he tries it) or for a milestone like his 18th birthday!

After a bit of thinking I came up with the following party activities and games and they were a resounding success and perfect for the 6-10 age group.

First of all a tip: Assign each child a yellow square paper plate (with a Lego face drawn and their name written on it with permanent marker). This is their plate for the entire party to store things on, so it should be kept somewhere safe.

Activity 1 - Fast Build Contest
Lego frequently produces promotional sets in plastic bags. They are often sold next to the tills in places like Target and are inexpensive (around $4-5 each). Buy enough of the same set for each child attending the party (try ebay if you're struggling to get multiple sets the same)... they can double as a party favour for the child to take home! Cut the tops off every bag and place on their plate without tipping out the contents. Sit the children on the floor with their plate in front of them. Blow a whistle to commence the Fast Build race... the children tip the bag contents onto their plate and assemble the model from the instructions. The winning child is the one who builds the model (accurately) the quickest!

Activity 2 - L-Egg-Oh! Tower Team Contest
For this activity you will need to prepare in advance a bag of Legos for each team (a set of plain building blocks like the one below is useful for this). For the sake of fairness, you may wish to make sure that each team has the same number/variety of blocks. Divide the children into groups (3-4 children per group). You may wish to sort out the groups in advance to a) get the right mix of personalities, b) avoid arguments and c) prevent someone from feeling left out! Give each group a bag of Legos and space them out on the floor. Giving each group a tray will help to contain the spread of Legos as well! The challenge is for the groups to build a tower from blocks that can support an (uncooked) egg. The group with the tallest tower wins, although you may want to hand out additional prizes for the best 'teamwork'!

Activity 3 - Lego Derby Car Team Contest
You can either stick with the same groups or mix the kids up into new teams. You can use the same bags of Lego, but make sure that each bag contains some wheels/axles. Set up a gravity racetrack (similar to that used in Pinewood Derby). I used Hot Wheels track pieces to create two long race tracks side by side and clamped them onto a ledge using the G-clamps. The challenge for each team is to design a Derby Car from Legos. When the cars are completed, take it in turn to race them until a winner is declared! You can also hand out additional prizes for 'coolest car design' or 'teamwork'!

Prize Ideas
Candy is always welcomed by kids, but you can jazz things up a bit by making it into a 'prize'! I used thin (1" x 8") cellophane bags to create 'tubes' of Lego candy, and then printed Lego heads to create toppers which I cut out and glued in place to seal the end and cover the staple at the top.

I also create Lego trophies by gluing a Lego 2x2 flat tile on the front of a plastic trophy with a hot glue gun! You could also use medals!

Happy party planning!
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Posted by Mama Max - - 0 comments

Wow... Easter is fast approaching!  I had planned to get this post done and published well in advance of Easter weekend, but with a trip back to the UK, and the resultant jet-lagged week from hell... all the best plans blah, blah, blah!  Easter is one of my favourite holidays!  I love it because Spring is in the air (unless you're in the UK and experiencing a blizzard), the days are getting longer and it's just a lovely excuse to spend time having fun outdoors with the family.  In the US, the traditions at Easter are slightly different than in the UK.  The Easter Bunny ranks up there with good ol' Santa Claus and so an Easter Egg hunt is the cornerstone of most celebrations.  The shops are FULL of hundreds of small, cheap plastic eggs that get filled with equally cheap candy and treats which can be hidden around gardens and parks across the country for the various egg hunts that take place!

In the UK, the traditions are slightly different.  It's more about the culinary associations... a baked leg of Lamb on Easter Sunday, hot cross buns and simnel cake.  When I was a child, we would be given one large-ish chocolate egg that was filled with our favourite candies, rather than the hundreds of small filled plastic ones common here today.  In fact, my mother even had a chocolate mold in which she would make them.  And she very kindly bequeathed these chocolate molds to me (complete with the original postage box circa 1983 ... haha!).  So this year, I decided to make Easter eggs for my boys... something heartfelt and made with love, rather than tacky plastic commercialism!

And what did I come up with?  An Angry Birds Egg!!  Commercial, much?!!  :-)

You will need...
  • An Easter egg shaped candy mold like one of these below.

  • A variety of coloured candy melts ... if you are making the red Angry Bird like the one pictured, you will need red, black, white & yellow.  These are available in craft shops such as Michaels or online.

    • A paintbrush reserved solely for food use.
    • Some egg cups or small microwave proof dishes.
    • A cellophane bag and gift ribbon.

    Firstly, it's important to consider the process of layering the candy so you can determine the order in which to 'paint' your melted candy.  You are working from the outside in, so any surface details need to be painted on first before you cover them, so for example, pupils BEFORE whites of the eyes!

    For the red Angry bird you will need to paint the black outlines of the Angry Bird's face first.  Melt just a few black candy wafers carefully in the microwave or over a double boiler (for more information on how to melt candy successfully read this post).  Then using a paintbrush, paint the outlines of the bird's face in mirror image onto the inside of the candy mold and allow to harden.

    Next, melt just 1 or 2 yellow candy wafers in an egg cup or small dish, and paint the melted candy over the beak outline (you can cover the center line).

    Do the same for the eyes using white candy.

    You can also then mix a little of the yellow into some of the white candy to make a pale cream yellow colour.  Use this to paint the bird's underbelly.

    Melt a bowl full of red candy melts (enough to fill both egg molds 1/4 inch thick).  Mix a tiny bit of the red with some of the black you used for the face outlines and create the dark red spots on either side of the red bird's face.

    When all these features have cooled and set.  Pour in the red candy gently, working quickly so that it doesn't melt your face underneath.  Spread up the sides of the mold and put in the fridge for 5 minutes to harden quickly.  Another thin layer may be necessary to give the egg an adequate thickness.

    Turn the eggs out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.  Use a spoon to tap the outside of the mold and gently pull the mold away.  You may need to use a sharp knife to loosen the edges.

    Once the eggs are out, try not to handle them, as your warm fingers and hands are enough to melt the candy and leave fingerprints.  Gently turn the eggs over and use a little more melted red candy around the rims of the eggs to attach the two sides together.  You could fill the inside with candy before sticking them together, for example M&Ms.

    Wrap in a clear cello bag and tie with a gift ribbon to prepare as a gift.

    Happy Easter!

    I'm now off to make some more... ideas include Spiderman, a monkey (use whole brown candy wafers stuck on the sides for ears), Darth Vader etc...    Who would you make?!
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