Thomas Engine -4yr- Train Picture Frames
Katrissa in Janesville, WI USA
For our son's 4th birthday, he wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine party.
We handmade the invitations by printing out a picture of Thomas driving down a track and using a photo-editing program to insert a picture of our son wearing his conductor hat and riding in Thomas and waving. The words Full Steam Ahead" were on the front of the invitation next to the picture of our son on Thomas and the words were surrounded by a border of "smoke" that orginated from Thomas's smokestack.
The inside read "for A's 4th birthay party (continuing the "Full Steam Ahead" sentence from the front). Below that we pasted a red "boarding pass" (with the edges cut to look like a ticket). This said: Boarding Pass for A's Train PartyThe party train departs at 1:30pm on Tuesday May 22 2007 Departing from: (Our last name) Station (address) Please call the conductor: (phone number here) by May 17th to secure your seat Parents and siblings are welcome to come along for the ride! We got a lot of compliments on the invitations - especially how it really looked like our son was riding on Thomas!
The party was in the afternoon and we opted not to do lunch (just cake ice cream and cookies) because of the volume of toddlers that were coming. When the kids arrived there were Thomas decorations on the front porch (Thomas crepe paper around the banister a Thomas mylar balloon and a Railway Crossing sign on the front door. Once they stepped inside the front door there were train tracks made of masking tape on the floor going all throughout the house - they led to the kitchen living room back deck bathroom etc. We also had various railways signs posted throughout the house (Speed Limit 25mph more Railway Crossing signs "Road Closed Ahead" on the steps going upstairs etc. We had just printed these off the computer) My husband had found a program in Microsoft Office that had different train whistles that would play every few minutes. He had that on our main sound system so every few minutes or so you would hear a train whistle or sound of a train rumbling by. It sounded so real!
While we waited for all the guests to arrive the children played with various Thomas toys we had laid out - the Thomas Aquadoodle Thomas books and our son's train table/tracks which we had moved out to the back deck because it was such a nice day. Once everyone had arrived I gathered all the children together and told them that we had a series of missions from the railway's head "Sir Topham Hatt". The first project was to help a Troublesome Truck that had spilled its load. I had spray painted a box gray and then drawn on the face and other details with black permanent marker. It looked just like the Troublesome Trucks in the Thomas stories so the kids got a kick out of this. I had gotten a pair of thin black tights and stuffed pieces of the tights with beans to make beanbag "coal". The children lined up and each got to throw three pieces of coal into the Troublesome Truck. We had nine 3 & 4 year-olds as well as a few 2-year-old siblings who wanted to get in on some of the games so we tried to keep all the activities moving fairly quickly so no one would get bored.
After the children fulfilled their first mission of filling the coal car back up their next project was to make train picture frames. This went over VERY well--it was amazing how quiet the toddlers got and how seriously they took this project! I had purchashed 8 1/2x 11 sheets of yellow foam and cut out train shapes with a square "window" cut out so a picture could be placed there later. I stuck magnets on the back so the kids could put them on their fridge at home and then they were able to decorate the trains as they wished. I laid out markers train rubber stamps Thomas stickers pom poms and neat foam train and star stickers that I had found at the dollar store. It was a really inexpensive project but a fun way for them to create a party memento.
When they were finishing up their frames I read them the story of Picture Day with Thomas in which Thomas gets his picture taken for Sir Topham Hatt's scrapbook. After we read the story I said that they were going to get their picture taken like Thomas. We set them up on our steps and took a picture that they can insert in the train frames they made (we'll send the pictures to them when we send out the thank you notes). The last game was "Pass the Thomas". The kids sat in a circle and I played a Thomas soundtrack while they passed around a big Thomas. When the music stopped whoever had Thomas got out of the circle but got a prize of a cardboard Thomas letter/number board. These boards were a WONDERFUL find at a dollar store (we saw them somewhere else for $4 but we only paid $1 each) and perfect for the 3 & 4-year-old age group we had there. It was a wipe-off board that allowed you to practice writing letters on one side and on the back it had a numbers activity with all the different Thomas trains. The kids were excited to get the boards so no one was sad about leaving the circle.
After that we gathered around the kitchen table to sing Happy Birthday and cut the cake. We had decorated the entire table with Thomas things. It was covered with a red tablecloth and the main focal point was the big Thomas cake! It was a 3D engine cake decorated with buttercream icing to look exactly like Thomas--down to every last detail!--and he was "pulling" Annie and Clarabel. The Thomas cake was made with a 3D train cake pan and Annie and Clarabel were made by baking cakes in 4 loaf pans (2 loaves for each) and layering them. I kept my son's diecast Thomas Annie and Clarbel close by while decorating to make sure all the icing colors were correct and that I didn't forget any details! The entire train was set up on a track made of Nutty Bars and black licorice with edible "gravel" scattered around the track. The cake took many MANY hours but it looked just like the characters and everyone loved it!
Also on the table we had the childrens' party bags (set up behind the Thomas cake) a big tray of homemade sugar cookies shaped like trains the #4 and stars (outlined with either red blue or yellow icing since those were the main colors of the table) and yellow bowls filled with Chex mix M&Ms and mixed nuts for snacking. My son's wooden Thomas track (with various Thomas and Friends engines placed on it went around the table and in between some of the party bags bowls etc. so that added a lot to the overall look. Across from the cake table we decorated our kitchen counter with a Thomas tablecloth and laid out a mix of Thomas and red partyware. We had the plastic forks stuck in the cab of a big wooden train and various Thomas trains and toys scattered on the counter for decoration. After eating cake (the kids were oh-so-excited that the engine and coaches and even the track were edible!!) we opened presents and then the children had time to just play.
Upon leaving the guests each received a party bag (in additon to the train frame they had made and the Thomas letter board). I had purchased plain yellow party bags and I made tags on the computer (the child's name surrounded by a square train track and printed on red paper). I stuck Thomas stickers on the train track border that surrounded their name. Inside the bags they received a plastic train whistle (from a party store) 4 pages of Thomas coloring pages stapled together (I had printed them from a website) a 24-pack of crayons (purchased when school supplies go on sale and they are like 20 cents!) a little yellow container of bubbles with a red lid (these originally were Pooh favors with a Pooh sticker on the lid but I pulled that off and printed a little Thomas picture on plain while labels and put that on there instead. I also had gotten cellophane Thomas bags on clearance which I filled with 2 packs of Thomas fruit snacks some Smarties and a red/yellow sucker.
All in all the party was a big success and the children had a lot of fun! The party was just yesterday so we have yet to send out thank you notes but we purchased the ready-made Thomas ones and we will use train stamps and Thomas stickers to decorate the envelopes and such with. I hope some of these ideas can help someone else planning a Thomas party as I got a lot of great ideas from others on this website!"
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