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Mad about March once again

March 23, 2009

by Jenni Sebora

It is "mad about March" time in our household once again.

Birthday parties, presents, cake, candles, balloons, streamers, etc. run rampant during this celebration month in the Sebora residence.

My three children’s birthdays are within a three-week span, and my birthday along with my twins’ is squished right in the middle of that span.

Thus, it seems like the scenes from the “Groundhog’s Day” movie with Bill Murray at our house in March. You wake up each day and repeat the same scenario over, just with a different person.

Albeit, I love birthdays and feel that they are an extremely important way to celebrate the person in honor. A birthday is a day to set aside the tasks of the day, as much as possible, and just focus on that important person in our lives. It is a way to say, “You are special to me.”

I also really enjoy celebrations and the people gathered together for the special event. A child’s birthday is extremely important to them. My children begin talking about their birthdays almost six months in advance. The anticipation of their special day is just as special as the day itself.

My now 5-year-old had a birthday party at our home with some of her preschool friends. Games were the source of entertainment. Music and balloons were two game accessories that entertained our little guests.

Balloon bop is always a hit. Children try and keep the balloon (individually or as a group) in the air as long as they can. Children can set a goal as to how many times they think they can hit the balloon before it touches the ground. Add more balloons for greater excitement.

Balloons are versatile. Balloon pass, from one child to the next, adds a spark of fun to festivities also. Children stand in a line or circle and they pass on the balloon from under their chins or underarms without using their hands.

A version of hot potato, “hot balloon” keeps kids giggling. Pass the balloon around while the music is playing, and the person with the music when the balloon stops, pops the balloon or chooses a birthday prize or imitates an animal (whatever you choose).

Musical chairs and freeze dancing are a must for both young and older children. With very young children, you don’t even have to remove a chair. It is much less competitive that way, but still is fun. Just scrambling for a place to sit is the exciting part and then, everyone gets a chair and no one is left out. As children get older, they can handle the competitive part of taking out a chair each round.

Young and old also like freeze dancing. When the music is playing, the children are perfecting their musical moves, but when the music stops, so do the dancers. They become suspended in whatever dance position they are in, and that is where the laughter begins.

Musical bridges is also another twist on the game. Pairs of children form bridges with their hands and the other children walk under the bridges while the music is playing. When the music stops, the bridges (arms) come down over the person under the bridge. That person then switches with one of the bridge partners, and the game goes on.

A ball of yarn can be a good game source also. Break children into groups of four to six and give the group a 20- to 30-foot length of yarn which has the ends tied together.

Have the children form a loop evenly-spaced apart. Call out a shape (circle, square, octagon, etc.) and have them form the shape with the string. The children can use their imaginations and make their own shapes collectively.

Since bobbing for apples may not be very healthy, try bobbing for donuts that are tied to strings. At my daughter’s party, we used mini donuts and tied a mini donut to a string. I then held up the string with the dangling donut attached. The goal: to take a bite out of the donut without using their hands. I swung the string just a little to add some more challenge for some children. Of course, each child got their own string and donut. The donuts also served as treats for the children.

Some literal downtime is also a must. At my daughter’s most recent party, I supplied markers, paper, stickers, and foam pieces, and asked each child to create a birthday picture or card for the birthday girl. This was a hit. I also asked my daughter to create a picture of her friends and her at the birthday party. Children love making pictures for others, as well as being the receiver of pictures.

How about a sundae or pudding bar at the party instead of the traditional cake? Have ice cream or pudding, sprinkles, chocolate chips, gummy worms, fruit, whipped cream, etc. and the children can create their own ice cream or pudding sundae. Kids love making their own food creations.

Have fun at your parties! We sure are.