Lola has just turned six! SIX! Time needs to slow down. It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was writing about her 5th birthday party! This year she requested a science party with ‘real life experiments’ and to learn ‘how to make real lava’. These BG kids are pretty specific, remember Alfie’s Underwater Science Party? Anyway, here’s the low down on Lola’s…
What They Wore
Lola does like to dress up so I needed to make these kids look little scientists. I hunted for fabric lab coats that were not going to hurt the bank and failed miserably, so decided to make some. I left messages on all the local Buy/Sell/Free Facebook pages for old white shirts and before long I had almost 30 of them donated! Win. Out came the sewing machine and I took up arms and adjusted the size of some of the bigger ones. Literally turned them inside out traced the hem lines a few inches smaller, then cut off the excess. They’re not going to win any sewing awards, but did the job perfectly. Lola was keen to help as soon as I got my sewing machine out, so pleased I bought her a sewing machine for her birthday! Top tip, for six year olds, try to get short-sleeved shirts from school leavers as they needed little altering, if any. I made name tags and sourced some goggles (thank you to my best pal who could grab some from work) and they were all good to go. The kids loved their outfits, they were issued them on arrival and it really helped set the scene (and save their clothes)!
What They Ate
I didn’t make too much effort to create science related food as I didn’t have the time, but there is some pretty spectacular stuff out there (have a look at this Pinterest board). Standard party food and a big fruit platter was the order of the day. I did buy some white mice to put out around the food, but Phil (the husband) thought a nod towards animal testing was really inappropriate. Fair point, but I think his real motivation was to eat them as they quickly disappeared! We made eyeball jelly which went down well. Asda have some great science themed stuff in at the moment (OK, it’s really Halloween, but it works) like the poison bottles which were only £2 each and would also work for a pirate party. I can’t see them online, so pop in to your local store. Lola’s cake was made by our fabulous and talented neighbour Teresa – thank you so much!
What They Did
I looked in to getting in a science party organiser to run the event, but as there weren’t any local to me, with travel etc it was working out to be pretty hard-hitting on the pocket, so I decided to run the experiments myself with the help of my wonderful family. I set up four different work stations in the hall, so the children could move around and I could split the group for some of the bigger and messier experiments.
Erupting Volcanos: As the children arrived they made volcanoes out of clay and added a shot glass to the middle to hold the “lava”. I ordered 12.5Kg Scola Reinforced Air Drying Modelling Clay for £12.65 and I used the standard vinegar, bicarb of soda and washing up liquid recipe with a splash of food colouring. This was a pretty popular, we had some fails but any reaction at all was well received and the kids liked getting messy with the clay. We did this one first because it allowed the latecomers to join us before we started with the other experiments. The kids wrote their names on the plates and they were left to dry out a little so they could take them away with them.
Elephant’s Toothpaste: This is really easy to do and Lola and I practised a few times in the sink at home. Google it and you’ll find lots of examples. Again, we had a few fails, but the ones that went well went really well and the kids spent some time going back to this one. You do need a lot of the ingredients for this. We got through 10 bottles of hydrogen peroxide pretty quickly. We also demonstrated a larger version of this with two litre bottles. Messy bubbles. Total winner.
Non-Newtonian Fluid: This was brilliant. Probably the biggest hit of the day with both adults and children and the messiest, too. Is it a solid? Or a liquid? Both! They loved how it went hard when they hit it and they all tried to use enough pressure to make it in to a sausage shape before it became a fluid again (which was as soon as they stopped adding pressure). They loved how the spoons got stuck in it, just like quick sand. Just so much fun and really, really easy. I will be doing this one again in the garden. You literally need cornflower and water and a bit of food colouring.
Milktastic: To be honest, at home Lola really enjoyed this but on the day it didn’t really get the kids excited. I can’t say I blame them, erupting volcanos, colourful bubbles and non-Newtonian slime or a bowl of milk with food colouring and washing up liquid. If I were to redo this party, we’d leave this one out. It is fun to try at home though.
Mentos & Cola: Another big hit. Phil demonstrated this one first and then we put the kids in to teams so they could do themselves with a little help from an adult. They got really excited, just look at their faces! Top tip, the warmer the cola the better and cheap cola works as well as branded. You need to use diet cola and approx 5 mentos.
What They Took Away
They could take their lab coats, goggles, badges and volcanoes away with them and I put together party bags. The bags contained the ever so popular ribbon wands and science badges from Shop BG, a test-tube full of popping candy, instructions to redo the volcano experiment and mini magnifying glasses which I picked up at our local market. These were put into colourful paper bags and sealed with stickers that matched the badges and invites. I also bought some super-bouncy balls from The Works (30 for £3) but forgot to add them, so Lola took those to school on Monday morning (her actual birthday) to give out to her classmates.
Some Final Thoughts
I planned each activity to last 20 minutes but it didn’t pan out quite like that, the kids worked though some activities much quicker than others and I had a little time to fill at the end, the clay came in handy there! I kept numbers down, last year she invited her whole class and with family friends that totalled over 30 children. I decided that it would be too hectic with that many so only let her invite 10 friends from school; there were 15 in total and I think that number worked.
I let everyone know before hand it was a messy party – there was a lot of food colouring in the mix and didn’t want people arriving in their party finest. The lab coats helped but it’s worth giving them the heads up – I added it to the invites I designed, which matched the badges, stickers and name tags. The kids were aged from 2 to 9, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves and I’ve had really positive comments from parent and a whole lot of love on my personal Facebook page! Do let me know if you have any questions.
We’re in the process of making free templates – name badges, stickers, experiment downloads etc – to match the badges we have in our store. If you’d like to know when they’re available, please join the shop mailing list and we’ll let you know.
Image (c) Claire Archbold & Mike Walker