Jennifer in Aurora, Colorado USA
My son has always been fascinated with volcanos (it was one of his first words, believe it or not), but not necessarily with dinosaurs. (Volcanoes usually fall under a dinosaur or caveman theme.) The first (and obvious) thing to do is to bake a volcano cake. There are so many ideas for this out there. I chose to take a pyrex glass mixing bowl and invert a little glass custard bowl in the bottom. Grease both with shortening and dust with flour. Prepare 2 boxes of dark chocolate cake mix and pour into the bowl until 2/3 full. You will bake this longer than the bundt cake time. Just keep watching and checking this every five minutes after the longest time. Cool briefly and remove both bowls. Allow the cake to cool completely. Frost most of the volcano with chocolate icing. Around the hollowed out cone (where the lava" will come out) frost with fluffy whipped white frosting to resemble "steam". Finally the lava is a can of cherry pie filling pour into the hollow on top of the cake and overflowing down the sides. We decorated with red streamers and balloons drawing them from the center of the room to simulate being inside a volcano. We also got a couple of posters from a school supply store (look under natural disasters- appropriate for a little boy's birthday party). We made cone shaped party hats out of brown construction paper with red paper streamers coming out of the top. Then I wrote the name of our party guests on each "volcano" hat. We checked out volcano videos at the library and had them playing while the kids colored pictures of volcanoes (you only need to set out red brown yellow orange and maybe green crayons). Once all the guests arrived we served lunch. Instead of baked potatoes we called them baked "po-canoes". On top of them you could add sparks (cheddar cheese shreds) steam (sour cream and butter) magma (chili con carne) and cinders (bacon bits). We also had "fire-dogs" (regular hot dogs) with either lava (ketchup) or ash (brown mustard). In keeping with the hot theme we served chips and salsa and for a side you could have burnt little trees (Chinese green beans which are in a blackish sauce). You can also make a fire-water punch which would just be any red sherbert in 7-up. Next for games you can do an eruption dance contest (make it a variation on the musical chairs ideas or judge the best dancers). We also had a model volcano which was a flour and water mixture formed over an upended magerine tub- don't forget to make a little cup shape on top. Make this the week before if you can so it will dry. Ours wasn't completely dry when I painted it brown but it worked fine anyway. Sprinkle plain baking powder in the cup on top ahead of time - it's your steam. Add red food coloring to white vinegar. Gather all the kids around to erupt it by pouring the red vinegar onto the baking soda. (Don't forget to contain the whole thing in a pan.) At the time we really lucked out and were able to tape record "volcano" episodes of the Backyardigans and the Wonder Pets. This came in handy after the kids had their sugar rush collapse. We had bought several containers of brown playdough at a school supply store (one for each guest) and then one container each of red yellow and orange dough. If you have time each guest forms their own volcano from the brown dough and decorates with the rest to make lava flows. These are the guests' party favors."
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