Aboard the Dino Train Party -3yr- Ticket Invite
Stacie in Atlanta, GA USA
My three year old son (and many other boys this age!) loves both Dinosaurs and Trains. So when we found the book All Aboard the Dino Train" by Deb Lund this quickly became his favorite book. He has it memorized! When his birthday came up six months later a party based on this book is all he wanted. So here is what we came up with:
INVITATION: For the invitation I glued a 5x7 green piece of card stock to an orange one like a pocket and cut a notch cut out of the green one near the top. For the front side my husband a graphic designer drew a picture of a t-rex sitting on top of a train engine similar to the illustrations in the book. He drew the t-rex wearing a birthday hat. I scanned this into the computer and added the words "Chugga Chugga Choo Choo / All we need is Dino you! / You're invited to ______'s 3rd Birthday!"
On the back I created a rhyme based on the rhythm in the book: "The Dino-Train is at the Station / For ____s Birthday Celebration! / You're Invited! Dinos roar / With dino-shouts of All Aboard! / The train rolls in at 4 o'clock. / This dino-ride is sure to rock! / Adventures wait just down the track / Follow the sound of the clickety clack! / Bring your ticket to claim your seat! / Arrive hungry for dino-food to eat! / Ice cream cake and games come see! / Cause _____s turning Dino-Three! / Location: (Last Name) Station (address)/ Train Schedule: Date / Arrival: time / Departure: time / Dinner will be served in the Dining Car / Toot your whistle at Conductor (my name) to let her know if you can come - (phone number)." I then printed white train tickets with an old fashioned train clip art on one end and dinosaur on the other. The tickets read "Admit One Round Trip" and said "(Last Name) Station / Track #3 (for number of years old) / Seat/Aisle/Row# (my son's DD/MM/YYYY birthdate)"
The ticket also reiterated the party date and times. I then slipped a ticket into the pocket of the card for each child member of the household.
DECORATIONS: We went a little overboard to get the Dino-Train idea across. My husband cut thin boards out in the shape of trains and dinosaurs and hung them to our rocking chair front porch so it would look like the train had pulled up to our house. We also had a railroad crossing sign on our front post. We bought dinosaur inflatables from Oriental Trading and had the large t-rex chained to a tree in the front yard. The others were placed around the inside of our house. When the children entered they had to present their tickets (we had plenty of extras) at a ticket booth that I had made out of a cardboard science fair display board. I cut out a large square in the center to make a ticket window used metal rings to attach an "OPEN" sign pasted the arrival and departure time signs on one side and on the other I displayed a schedule of the party events.
Near the ticket booth we had set up a bean bag covered with a brown blanket and a grass skirt laid out to make a dinosaur egg nest where we displayed the dino egg favors (see below). In the kitchen we had set up a volcano made out of a lampshade and paper mache with lava rock (from Home Depot) around the bottom. We used dry ice inside to make it look like it might blow at any moments.
A wooden train track went around the volcano with a motorized engine that had cargo cars attached with mini dinosaurs sitting in the cargo cars. A letter train spelling out my son's name was on the drink counter. Leading in from outside and into the living room we rolled up our carpet and created a train track out of painters tape on the wood floor. Two ideas we didn't get to were to decorate my son's wagon like a cargo car to put the presents inside and to decorate shoe boxes like train cars and place the paper goods (napkins silverware etc) in them.
ACTIVITIES/GAMES: On arrival the kids came to the ticket booth and presented their tickets (we made plenty of extras). We punched the "Admit One" part with a train shaped hole punch (Dollar Tree) gave the kids their ticket back a paper conductor hat which we had put a printed label on saying "Engineer ____(child's dinosaur name)" with each child's name (some were -asaurus some -dactyl some -atops etc.) and a Passport. The passport front cover had train clip art and the back cover said "The Conductor of this Dino-Train hereby requests anyone reading this passport to permit the Passenger named herein to pass along these Dino-Tracks without delay and with any assistance needed on this date of ____ in Honor of the Birthday of ________ (my son's dinosaur name)." I then put a picture of each child under this with their dinosaur name. At each activity later they got a dinosaur stamp put into their passport. When all kids had arrived we gathered and read the story to get everyone in the mood. Then we went outside where I had set up our Step 2 sandbox and table (which look like they are made from large rocks).
We had buried dinosaur skeletons (Oriental Trading) in the sand and instructed each kid to dig one out. They each found one and then used paint brushes to be paleontologists and brush away the sand. They then came inside and pressed their skeletons into white Crayola Model Magic (which dries quickly and very light weight) to make fossils. While waiting their turn for this they could also do dinosaur rubbings (Lakeshore Learning Store) identify their dinosaur using a set of flash cards (Target's $1 rack) or find where their dinosaur might have come from on a labeled inflatable globe (bought on Ebay).
After this we set let everyone eat dinner in front of a short Thomas the Tank Engine movie "Rheneas and the Dinosaur" sitting on a plastic throw away table cloth. After dinner we let the kids dance to Laurie Berkner's "We are the Dinosaurs".
We played a the game Extinct - Like a cake walk have the kids make a train by holding onto each other's shoulders and walk around circle and stop when the music does. We had them go around the track we taped down and anyone who stopped on a dinosaur footprint taped to the floor was "Extinct" and given a sticker until everyone got one. We used Dan Zane's version of Choo Choo Chaboogie.
Don't Jump the Track - Using the tracks on the floor blind fold each child spin them in a circle and tell them to chug down the train track. Mark the point where they veer off the track and see who can go the farthest!
Choo Choo Caboose! - Like duck duck goose but kids sit around on the painter's tape track and have the tagger go around and say Choo choo Caboose! Add a twist by having tagged children hold onto the tagger making a train and going around the circle together.
After this we sang and had my son blow out his candles and while the cake was being cut my husband exploded the volcano by filling a plastic bottle half way full with warm water and a bit of red food colorng add 6 drops of detergent to the bottle contents add 3-4 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid slowly pour ½ cup vinegar into the bottle. Tip add ketchup to make lava look more realistic.
PARTY SNACKS: We served dinner at the party. For the kids we made Tyson's dinosaur shaped chicken placed them on rolls cut out with train cookie cutters (on clearance at Walmart) and offered "Red Hot Lava Sauce" (bbq sauce). For the adults we had a chicken and rice casserole.
CAKE: my mom who bakes cakes as a side business made a train in the green and orange party colors. The cars each had different candies on top to represent the "coal lumber oil and grain" in the book. Each car also had a dinosaur perched on top. We also offered the kids vanilla ice cream dinosaur eggs - vanilla ice cream rolled in sugar with a fruit snack dinosaur inside and re-frozen in an egg shape.
FAVORS: We made dinosaur eggs out of paper mache and spray painted them grey and tan. Inside we put white batting for some padding and added a large toy dinosaur (Michael's after Christmas clearance) dinosaur fruit snacks (Krogers) an orange dinosaur cookie cutter and green train cookie cutter a train whistle (Oriental Trading) a railroad crossing zipper pull (Operation Lifesaver) a dinosaur soap (Big Lots) and a train washcloth (which I painted with a stencil and orange and green fabric paint on white washcloths. We also had stuffed dinosaurs for some little siblings and dinosaur mazes with crayons for some older siblings.
All in all the party went really well and my three year old is still talking about it. Can't wait to see what he picks for next year! "
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