Tuesday, October 4, 2011

School Party - Treasure Hunt

With each new party I organize and run, I learn valuable lessons in what does and doesn't work for groups of kids of different ages and numbers. The activities that were hits, we kept and used, in different forms, for subsequent parties. Any game, no matter how beautifully designed, that involved waiting in line for a turn was immediately vetoed early in the planning stage. 

The treasure hunts we had in previous years were always something the kids enjoyed. Nobody had to wait their turn, everyone got excited, whomever needed help could get an Adult Helper, there was no time limit, and there were goodies to keep. Plus, we've since decided that if the kids were going to have souvenirs in their goodie bags, they might as well hunt for them as be handed them. 

This year's school party involved hunting for school supply-type loot, but we were careful to pick things that were usually not on real school supply lists, given that our party was just a week after everyone started school for real in the fall. Here's what we had the kids hunt for in our yard.

Cardboard Pencils:

There are so many variations of this craft on the internet - this is how we made ours.

We used
  • Cardboard tube (we cut up a wrapping paper inner tube)
  • Grey/silver duct tape
  • Piece of wrapping paper to wrap around tube
  • Circle of pink construction paper, whose diameter is about 2 to 3 times that of the tube. We made radial cuts along its edge, leaving the centre (about the size of the tube's diameter) uncut.
  • Segment of tan construction paper, to make a cone slightly larger in diameter than the tube's.
  • Black marker
  • Glue

First we rolled the tan segment and glued it into a cone.

We snipped the circumference so that it hugged the opening of the tube, and glued it around the edge of one end of the tube.

We colored on a lead tip.

Then we wrapped the body of the pencil.

You don't need as much glue as Kate used, by the way.

We filled it,

wrapped the remaining open end with the snipped pink circle, folding down the snipped flaps, and securing it around the tube with a narrow strip of duct tape. To open the pencil later, simply unwrap the duct tape or puncture the pink eraser end with your finger.

Finished pencil filled with goodies!

We made more -

and everyone helped.

We cut card stock and regular printer paper in half, stacked them together (the card stock is the cover) and sewed along the spine. 

We glued on random bits of old scrapbook paper, and stenciled on the dashed outline of a name plate.

Pencil Flowers

We made paper flowers just like these

and stuck the chenille stems in a bunch of new pencils, tied together with a rubber band.

We could have just hidden the bare pencils, but it was so much more fun to disguise them as flowers and "plant" them in our backyard to be picked!


These we bought here. They are bobbing apples, but Emily opted for a no-water party. They come already filled with a sticker and a plastic bug (fortunately not caterpillar) and we added a little packet of those immensely popular crazy bands.

Finally, Emily made a little treasure map/list for the guests, which we scanned, resized and printed out for everyone. 

And on the day of the party, we sent everyone off with their maps to find one of each item.

A large part of the preparation for this treasure hunt was done by Emily. Being able to put together the supplies for her own party kept her busy and out of my hair. More fun for her, and less work for me - I call that a pretty good arrangement!

And that brings us to the end of Behind The Scenes at Emily's School Party! I've updated the original party post with links to all these different elements, and added this party to the rest of our parties - click on the Parties tab below the blog banner to see them.

And now the planning must begin for Jenna's party in November. More cardboarding! Yes! Time for another trip to Ikea's loading bay!


  1. I've been following your blog for months now and this is my first comment. You are amazing! You blow me away with your creativity, patience with your children during production time, and the crazy amount you produce...I am in AWE! Are you going to get your party ideas published in a book? I want to see you get paid for your brilliance and stamina, seriously!

  2. Your and your girls's creativity continues to amaze me! What a fun treasure hunt! I may need to hire Emily as a party planner sometime.

  3. Hooray for a birthday party free of lines!

    What I love most about your parties, though, is how involved your girls are with the planning and making of the party! I feel like that is such a great way for a birthday party to be an educational experience for the birthday girl - and a way for her to express appreciation for friends!

  4. Those ideas are just fabulous. I'll be preparing a birthday party in January and will be looking back here for inspiration and ideas.


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