One thing that i really admire about our western counterparts would be the meaningful preparation of birthday celebrations. I love how some mums would do almost everything from scratch and engage the child in the whole process from planning a theme, to making of the props, goodies, food, cake, decorations and lots of fun games to ensure the children ENJOY and celebrate the gift of life!I see a whole lot of life skills involved in doing such a project together with your child! Namely, skills on planning, decision-making, team work, problem solving, installation of items, grocery shopping, creativity, develop an eye for aesthetics and development of dexterity for the hand eye coordination so on….
So I began to also embark on this tradition of involving my children in planning and preparing for their own birthdays as well as for their siblings’ birthdays. Jo’s the latest. Their earlier birthday preparations can be found here. This time round I re-used the rainbow theme board that was done for Emma’s birthday. I just added some balls to suit the theme. Normally I would brainstorm together with the child what sort of theme they would like to create. This time however was narrowed down to sports or gym or balls (since Jo had already ordered a soccer cake with dad). He was all for the theme on ‘Balls’. With that, I lost no time and all of us ransacked our house for all kinds of balls that we could find! We then categorised them according to their sizes and uses. Next we came up with games with the balls that their friends would enjoy playing with. Having collected all their suggestions, we narrowed down to 3 games.
Two weeks prior to his birthday, we found a discarded refrigerator box in the neighbourhood. We were thrilled and carried it back home. I added more boards to secure the frames and duck taped the edges as well as the base which had an interior styrofoam. All these were done to ensure this big toy would last for a reasonable time. Then I encouraged the kids to decorate it. With such massive surface area, I was reluctant to paint as it would be costly. Thus Collage made from the stacks of brochures, recycled wrappers and the like was a great way of using up my unwanted papers constructively. It was a new project which required exercising of their tearing and gluing techniques (you might want to add the scissors which I didn’t). As you can see, they used paintbrushes to spread the glue and then searched appropriate paper sizes (some of them they tore to the right size). Doing this mega collage activity was really hard work for all! We used about 4 days to complete 3 sides. On the last day, two of them were tired of the paintbrush and used their hands instead! They were happy playing with the sticky texture and I was happy that the paper stuck well. This project in itself taught us a lesson on perseverance in completing a job when they were tempted to give up after a day or two.
Now you know why that box collage is part of the party theme. They were motivated to decorate it for the party so that it would not be bare. In the midst of playing with the box, it was really amusing to see how the boys invented their own fun. It started from a simple ball shoot into the roof of the box. Soon, they developed a human operated ball game machine. Jo gave a shot and if the ball entered the box from the open roof, Amos would shriek ‘WIN’ and if Jo failed, Amos would open the doors and honk ‘BEEEEHHHH! LOST!’ Then they would take turns to do that for the longest time. How this box became relevant to our theme was just a happy accident! So we decided this would be their new game for their friends. (however, plans may not turn out the way one desires. This game actually did not take place as boys were not keen on that game. But it was a good learning process nevertheless.)
The second game was the batting game, where we recycled the kitchen towel paper rolls as bats and the red stands (which were party popper streamers).
The third game was the modified billiard game. I transformed the common play cardboard item of the past and made it into a billiard table. I was inspired by my brother-in-law’s real deal as the boys just never got tired of simply rolling the balls on the billiard table into the holes. So I thought why not? This was a job that I did mainly by myself. The kids did the drawing of the circles and I cut out the holes, duck taped all the edges and external sides, covered the interior with paper and wrapped the whole interior with plastic. Why all the trouble? Simply because I treasure such large cardboard boxes which are rare to find and am determined to preserve it as long as possible for their imaginative play. The beauty of cardboard boxes lies in its versatility to be whatever our imagination can take us to! In the past, it was a pirate ship, a marble board, a book corner, a stage or just simply a space for random play and I am looking forward to the next round of adventures it can provide us with!
Lastly, I added a simple choose your own goody bag activity. Basically each child will get to choose the preferred coloured ball and decorate it with stickers and draw on it with a marker. Other items included a coloured ribbon laced paper roll as ‘bat’ for the ball, some sweets and a box of cereals.