Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bunny Party: Games

We had several games for Kate's Bunny Party. The challenge for an outdoor party is to design games that can be executed in both good and awful outdoor weather. So, for instance, "Jumping On The Backyard Trampoline For 30 Minutes" is an extremely naive choice. So is "Water Balloon War". Unless, of course, you live in Texas or California on a 100-acre farm which has several empty barns, one of which houses a gigantic bouncy pad and the other has tarp-lined walls and a rubber-tiled skid-proof floor for hosting one dozen children armed with wet grenades.

I don't.

So I planned alternative games.

Game #1 is called Build-A-Bunny.

It is a Team Game, and it works like this: 

You buy two cheap poster boards (or, for my Singaporean friends, vanguard sheets), in two different colors, one for each team. Mine were white and yellow. If you have a lot of kids (like if you were doing this for a camp game), you might have more teams, in which case you would buy ONE color for EACH team.

You draw identical bunny body parts on each, and cut them out.

(and no, I do not have a template. It's not difficult. You buy a thick marker, visualize the size, proportion and shape you want, and just draw, bearing in mind that your audience is the kids who love you, not some faceless art snobs).

You punch holes at appropriate spots on each part in order to connect them together to form a complete body. You reinforce those holes with the little plastic sticker things, so they won't rip during the game and render everything useless.

Then you divide all the body parts among the number of expected guests, and put each share into a cheap newspaper envelope.  We were expecting 11 guests, so we made 12 envelopes and invited an adult to make up the difference.

Obtain some twist ties,

which the kids would use to join the body parts together. Our kids (6 years and up) knew how to work with twist ties, but if you think yours are unfamiliar with twist ties, use something else. I considered paper fasteners, too, but twist ties were less pokey.

Then you run the game. You make up rules, like
  • We will be building bunnies today! There will be two teams! One team is yellow and the other is white! Each of you will get to be on one of those teams but you don't get to choose! That's part of the fun!
  • I will give you kids each a newspaper envelope - open it and find out which team you're in!
  • Get together with your other team members and build a bunny! Here are twist ties. Do whatever you need to to make a bunny. 
  • Hang it from a hanger. Hang the hanger on the the door (tape a loop of string from the door for shorter kids). 
  • The team that finishes first wins! The team that finishes second also wins! This is not a race!

Our guest did wonderfully. 

I love team games at birthday parties. They run astonishingly well, much better than solo games, actually. Which initially surprised me, considering that some of these kids are strangers to each other. 

Sesame Street was right, after all - cooperation really rocks.

Game #2 was our low-adrenaline alternative to a pinata (which Kate cannot bear because it stresses her out to dash for candy). We call it The Carrot Patch.

It's ridiculously easy. First, buy candy (or plastic trinkets or whatever). 

Get a deep box and fill it with rice or beans or something food-safe. Add a sign with instructions. Bury the candy in the rice and invite the kids to excavate. Provide ziploc bags with a Sharpie to write their names on. 

It might be helpful to appoint a station manager of sorts, to enforce the correct number and combination of treats claimed and smooth out the rice between diggers. We delegated this job to Jenna, who loved it.

Game #3 was called Steal The Vegetables. It involved a vast number of balloons.

First we blew up red balloons and stuck green streamer bits on their ends. These were tomatoes (or radishes, if you prefer). 

Make enough for each guest to have one.

We did the same with long orange balloons - these were carrots -

and long green balloons, which were cucumbers.

The idea was that the kids were bunnies, and they were going to steal vegetables - one carrot, one cucumber and one tomato - from a farmer's yard without the farmer tagging them. They would only be allowed to use their feet. If the farmer tagged them, they'd have to return their vegetables to the farmer's yard and start again. And if they left their vegetables unattended, other bunnies could steal them (this last rule was invented by the kids themselves).

We made a sign for each kid - poster board scraps taped onto stems of florist's wire,

which were stuck in the lawn to create individual Home Stations.

Remember what I saying about Good Weather vs. Bad Weather? This would've been the scenario had we had the sort of Good Summer Weather that typically characterizes weekends in June: the balloon vegetables would've been piled on the lawn on one side of the driveway, the signs would've been staked on the lawn on the other side of the driveway, the kids would've been kicking and hopping all over the lawn in the sunshine and blue sky and the photographs would've been glorious.

Reality check: it poured with a vengeance that day. We played this game indoors, from one room to the next. The signs were taped to furniture. The kids still had fun, laughing and hopping, but no sky, blue or otherwise. Hence, no photos. 

Game #4, which we prepared as a filler activity, was Bunny-Bunny-Fox, which is our version of Duck-Duck-Goose. We never needed to employ it, because the kids spent so much time decorating their Bunny Houses (coming up!). Hurrah!


  1. Your games are great! I love the no-competition aspect, especially for kids that age.

  2. Love the assemble the bunny game. Your party reminds me of the ones I did for our kids when they were little. We lived overseas and did everything ourselves and it was so much fun.

  3. Such a clever game! I suddenly have this vision of being a kindergarden teacher hehe. Happy birthday Kate!

  4. I love everything that you post. Thank you so much for sharing all your great ideas. I have one question. When the bunnies steal the vegetables, who plays the farmer?

  5. One more seems like the farmer could be faster than the bunny who is hopping away and tag everyone which would be no fun. Is the farmer blindfolded? I ask because I would like to actually use this game and I need to be clear on how it works. Thank you very much.

    1. Alyce: Assign a willing adult to be the farmer. The farmer's job is to add dramatic tension to an already chaotic situation. Blindfold him/her if you like. Or not. He/She doesn't have to do much, and mostly he/she will be pretending to chase the bunnies. These are 5-6 year olds, after all. If this were played with older kids, who are faster and better at strategy and such, and if played in a bigger area (such as actually outdoors rather than indoors as we had to conduct ours) you can have the farmer be more active and deliberate and actually be a bona fide "threat" in the game.

  6. I love the build a bunny game! Thanks for the tip about cooperative games working well, too. I wouldn't have guessed that, but it kind of makes sense. We did wand building at Emma's last birthday party, and the kids turned that into a semi-cooperative venture, determining special meanings for the different pipe cleaner colors and discussing techniques.


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