Space Party -7yr- Baking Soda & Vinegar Rockets
Christine in Oceanside, CA, USA
My 7 year old son is very interested in space and rockets, so we planned his 7th birthday party with a space theme.
INVITATIONS: I found a picture of the earth rising over the moon by Googling moon pictures. Then I took a picture of my son in an astronaut costume and a friend of mine photo-shopped him onto the moon. The front of the card had the picture and 3 2 1 BLAST OFF! The inside of the card said: You have been selected as part of the Launch Crew for a Mission to Outer Space! Mission Objective: Help Commander [child's name] have a Happy Birthday!, Report For Duty: [date], Countdown Begins: [start time], Return To Earth: [end time], Launch Site: Space Station [last name], Coordinates: [address], Communicate with [mom] @ Mission Control to confirm your flight readiness by [RSVP date], [phone & email], Snacks, Drinks, and Cake will be served.
DECORATIONS: I got Space Shuttle/Planet cups and napkins from Oriental Trading Company (OTC), dark blue cake plates at Wal-Mart, and silver, plastic tablecloths at Party City. I used the Space Shuttle/Planet party ware as inspiration for the color scheme. I got silver, blue, and orange balloons and curling ribbon. I also found 4 gold card board stars that I punched holes in and hung with the balloon bunches. I printed several signs using a computer graphics program. I put one on a kids easel at the opening of our cul-de-sac that read Warning: Rocket Launch Area, please park on [adjacent street], one on the garage saying Welcome to Space Station Clark, enter here for training and refueling, another kids easel at the back gate saying Astronaut Entrance, and one in the backyard (where most of the party took place) that said, Happy Birthday to Commander [Child's Name].
FOOD: I served Cosmic Fruit Salad, cheese and salami asteroids (cubes), Cheese Comets (Natural Cheetos), Flying Saucer Pizzas (bagel bites), and tang and water to drink. (Did you know that some of the early astronauts drank Tang in space?)
ACTIVITIES: We started with ROCKET FLYERS from OTC. I bought 8 various sized bouncy balls (from 24 to 3 in diameter), a few hula hoops and placed them all over the yard to serve as planets. Then I told the kids to aim there rockets at the planets.
Next were the ROCKET BALLOONS from www.rocketballoons.com which included a hand pump. The kids loved these! We ended up bringing out the air compressor to fill them up faster to keep up with all 15 kids.
Next were the FILM CANISTER ROCKETS. I did lots of research online and found that the best kind of canister is the semi clear kind where the top fits inside the can rather than around the outside. There is a little well inside the top where you can put some baking soda paste (baking soda mixed with a tiny bit of water). Then you fill the can with about ½ inch of vinegar, put the lid on, turn it over, place it on the ground, and stand back. It took a little practice to get the lid on firm enough before they put it down. Some of the kids asked me to do it for them at first (I was manning the vinegar) but at the end even the girliest of girls was doing it herself. They had a great time with this! To make the canister look like a rocket I gave the kids a 2 circle of construction paper with ¼ cut out (think pac man shape) for the cone top, small triangles for fins, star stickers, and tape. This design was light and some of them popped up over 10 feet off the patio. I gave the kids safety glasses (cheap sunglasses) for eye protection. We use these in the next activity too.
We shot off various different kinds of HUMAN POWERED ROCKETS. We had two sling shot type rockets, 4 hand pump rockets, and a stomp rocket. We went out into our cul-de-sac to take turns with all the different rockets. The final rocket launches were the BOTTLE ROCKETS. I found directions on a science teachers website for a rocket made out of a 2 liter bottle (www.lnhs.org/hayhurst/rockets/).
We made a few modifications to simplify the design: Take a two liter bottle, tape a child's traffic cone (from OTC) with the rim cut off to the bottom of the bottle with duct tape. Cut fins from file folders (I got brightly colored ones to match the cone colors). Then you fill the bottle about half full of water, place the rocket onto a launcher made from PVC pipe and a standing bicycle pump (directions at: www.soe.ucsc.edu/~karplus/abe/soda-bottle-rocket.pdf) and blast it off! My husband and I made 3 launchers and about 10 rockets. The kids had a blast (all puns intended) with this. The rockets went 30+ feet into the air and got the kids fairly wet.
We finished off the party back in the yard with a PINATA in the shape of the space shuttle (from Celebration Express) and CUPCAKES. I covered a cardboard presentation board with foil and lined the cupcakes up in the shape of the shuttle. I frosted the bottom and top ones with chocolate (like the black bottom edge of the wings and the nose cone) then the rest were frosted in vanilla with USA and my son's name in red raspberry frosting.
The kids took home a GOODY BAG (OTC Gold Star Frosted Bags) with a space coloring book (made from online coloring pages) and a Rolo Rocket (a roll of Rolos wrapped in construction paper with a foil wrapped kiss glued to the top and construction paper flames taped to the bottom).
The party was a great success. This was our first true drop off party. Only a few parents stayed, but we had so much for the kids to do, they behaved like little angels.
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