Herald Journal Columns
March 13, 2006, Herald Journal

Let the madness begin!


It’s March madness in my home again, which means all three of my children have birthdays within two weeks of each other (and my and my twin’s birthday is thrown in there, too, not to mention other family members’ birthdays).

It’s birthday cakes, decorations, parties, and games, in what seems like nonstop mode at this time of year.

I love birthdays and what they mean for each person. It makes you stop, and really focus and give attention to the special birthday beholder. Birthdays are wonderful opportunities to share special feelings and rekindle memories shared with that special birthday person.

On the days of our children’s birthdays, it has become a tradition to videotape the birthday child waking up and then ask him or her what it feels like to be the new age bestowed upon him or her. We also discuss on each child’s birthday how that child came into the world, what time they were born, what they looked like when they were born, and what we felt like when they came into the world.

I’d like to, once again, share some birthday activity and game ideas that we have used at my children’s parties, or will use in the near future. These ideas certainly could be played and used at other times, as well (anytime you have a group of children together and you’d like some relatively organized play activities to keep everyone active).

Some of these ideas I discovered from Meadowbrook Press. Some activities can be used inside, as well as outside – you can decide how brave you are!

In Beach Ball Shuffle, divide players into two teams and place two chairs about 10 yards away from the starting line. Say “Go,” and the first players place beach balls between their legs and shuffle to the chairs and back without dropping the balls. If they do drop the balls, they start over. They then pass the balls to the next players until everyone has had a turn.

Using a ball once again, have guests sit in a circle and have them roll the ball to one another while telling a story. You could start the story with, “There once was a ball . . . ” or whatever theme you choose (children can get pretty silly adding on to the story). The next person to touch the ball must continue the story, until everyone has had a turn and someone ends the story.

Here’s another story idea. Assign one action word from a favorite story to each player. Sit in a circle and have someone read the story to the group. Each time the players hear their words read, they should get up and act them out.

Children enjoy trivia games, so you could create your own trivia contest. Make up some questions and answers about different movies or cartoons. Give guests paper and pencil, and have them write down their answers as you read the questions. When all the questions have been asked, review the questions and have the players share their answers. If you want to make it into a contest, the guests with the most correct answers win.

Many times at parties, birthday favors are also given to the guests. If you have different party favors or guest gifts (pencils, cards, play dough, match box cars, small stationary, etc.), you could play “pass the presents” game. Seat players in a circle and give each a present. When the music plays, have them pass the presents around the circle as fast as possible without dropping them (kids love anything involving music and changes in speed and direction). When the music stops, the guests may unwrap the gifts (if wrapped), or just keep the gift they have in their hands when the music stops.

Of course, children love to play with water at any age, so here are a couple of games to fit that fancy. Place a small drinking cup in a pail and fill both with water. Give each player three pennies, rocks, marbles, etc., and have each player take a turn kneeling over the back of a chair and trying to drop the small items into the glass.

Water balloons are always popular. Divide children up into pairs, with a water balloon given to each pair. Have the partners toss the balloons back and forth with the object being to try and keep the water balloon intact. Each time partners successfully catch the balloon, have them move back one foot.

Silly races are always fun, too. Dividing children into two teams, have each player push a peanut with his or her nose from one end of the room to the next, where the next teammate waits to take his or her turn to push the peanut.

Passing the orange under the chin from one teammate to the next is always a fun challenge, or try walking from one end of the room to the next with a book on top of the head (add some variety and have the children walk backwards with the book on their head, etc.).


“An aware parent loves all children he or she meets and interacts with – for you are a caretaker for those moments in time.”

– Doc Childre,

A Parenting Manual