Thomas Tank Engine -4yr- Train Caps Scarf
Rebecca in Ventura, CA, United States of America
December 2005 Winner
THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE
I bought standard Thomas invitations because they have a great picture of Thomas that the kids can save. I included a preprinted ticket (the kind used for raffles or carnivals) for each family member invited and wrote Here is you ticket to fun at Daniel's 4th birthday party.
As decorations, I used 1 inch masking tape to create a train track that led up to the door where I had a sign Daniel’s Train Depot. The train tracks continued throughout the house and around the backyard. For areas of the house that I did not wish the children to visit, I simply stopped the tracks and put up a sign that read No Trespassing! Danger Ahead. Our dry erase board had the schedule listing arrival time, departure time and a passenger list.
My husband and I wore overalls, train hats and scarves from OTC (Orientaltradingcompany.com) to greet the children. As each guest arrived, we checked off their name from the passenger list and sent them to the kitchen to do the craft. Here they used magic markers to color a train-shaped picture frame made from balsa wood (Michael's craft store). We had glued a picture of our son wearing his engineer's cap onto the driver's space and took a picture of each guest which could later be glued into the cab part of the frame.
We plan to send these pictures out with the thank-you note. I protected the kitchen table by covering it with white poster paper (Michael's) onto which I had drawn train tracks and a village. The children were free to add anything to the picture as well. Children who did not wish to participate in the craft did free play with the Thomas train table and trains that we had moved out into the living room.
To start the game portion of the party, we rang a bell to get the kid's attention, then ran to the door to find a surprise package. It was a big brown box addressed, To: The Kids, Daniel's 4th Birthday Party, Ventura, CA. From: Sir Topham Hatt, Tidmouth Station, Island of Sodor. They were super excited to open the box. Inside, they found a big Thomas board book which I had rewritten by pasting my own words over the existing words. Whereas the title used to be Thomas Camera tour, the new title was Daniel's Birthday Tour. Each page had a picture of a different portion from the Island of Sodor---Brendam Docks, The Quarry, and The Engine shed.
In our backyard, I had already recreated these same scenes represented in the book. I made signs with words and pictures for the children to follow along the tracks to locate these places in our yard. I pretended that the book was sent by Sir Topham Hatt to guide us in doing some very important jobs which were actually games to be played at each location. At the end of each game, we simply turned the page in the book.
Since most kids at the party couldn't read, it fun for them to match to picture in the book to the actual location recreated in the yard. Also, the book served to calm them down and refocus their attention. The first page in the book read Welcome to Daniel's 4th Birthday party. I have some very important jobs for you to do today on the Island of Sodor. First, you must prepare for our trip using the items I've sent in the box. Inside the box, the kids each found a denim bag with his name on it. Each bag had a train cap and red train scarf inside which they quickly put on.
The bag was then used to collect party favors as we played each game. I read further, Our first stop is Brendam Docks. Can you follow the tracks to find Cranky the Crane? I had made a giant Cranky the Crane out of 3 cardboard boxes, covered with white poster paper and painted with poster paint with details outlined with a black Sharpie fine-tip marker. I used a wrapping paper tube and spray painted a cardboard hook silver for the crane part. I painted an ocean scene on a big piece of poster paper taped over a large piece of wood and made fishing poles out of wrapping paper tubes, fishing line and more silver painted cardboard hooks.
The hooks had clothespins hot-glued to the back so that I could attach items. When the kids arrived at Brendam Docks, they found a letter taped to the sign from Sir Topham Hatt. It read, Cranky is really feeling cranky because the parcels that he was unloading have fallen into the water. He needs our help to fish them out. As a special thank-you, Cranky would like you to keep anything that you might catch.
Each child had his own fishing pole with his name on it. When it was his turn to fish, he threw the line behind the ocean picture. On his first try, I attached silly items like starfish, old boots and tin cans made out of cardstock paper. I didn't want to disappoint them too much, so I taped a lollipop to each of these. I then encouraged each kid to try his luck again and then attached a parcel to his pole. These were cute little brown cardboard boxes with handles that I had bought at the craft store.
Before the party, I had put little tiny computer labels that read To: A Very Useful Helper, Daniel's Party, Ventura, CA. From: Sir Topham Hatt, Mainline Office, Island of Sodor. Inside each box were Nabisco fruit snacks tied up in saran wrap and a bow. They looked like little fruit baskets. I even put miniature stamps on by using a clipart program and drew postal cancellation marks onto the package. I don't think the four-year boys cared a bit about the cute little details, but my 9 year old daughter enjoyed it, so it was worth the extra trouble.
After the fishing game, I turned the page in the book and read; Our next stop is the quarry! Toby is waiting for you there. When we arrived at the quarry, the children found a cardboard Toby and Troublesome Truck. Toby was created out of a sealed rectangular box wrapped in poster paper and painted. The Troublesome truck was a short box with the top cut off so that he could hold coal. I made wheels by spray painting ribbon spools black and attaching them with hot glue. I also made small black bean bags to represent coal.
The kids located another letter from Sir Topham Hatt which read, Toby has been having a lot of trouble with the troublesome trucks. They have spilled out all of his coal. Can you help to put it back? Toby would like to give you a prize for helping out, so do your best. Each kid tossed a bean bag until he got it back into the Troublesome truck and then received a Thomas Sticker sheet as a prize.
Next, I turned the page on the book and read, There is trouble at the engine shed. Can you find Percy and James inside? The engine shed was created out of a long low box with the lid partially opened so that it formed a roof shape. We cut the short edges of the lid and taped the cardboard so that the roof held its shape and then wrapped it with white poster paper. We cut three arches into the long side of the box and made miniature train tracks coming out of each one. I painted the engine shed to look like bricks and then placed our Push-n-go Percy and James toys into the shed. These are those cute little kid toys that go forward when you push down on the driver.
The kids located the letter from Sir Topham Hatt which read, James and Percy are having an argument over who is the fastest and strongest engine. Can you help to guide them in a race to knock down the brick wall? Sir Topham Hatt would like to give you a special gift as a way of thanking you for being really useful. Two children went at a time and raced to knock down the Macaroni and cheese boxes that were painted red and stacked up to form a brick wall. This game was great fun and each child received a bottle of Thomas shaped bubbles as a prize for knocking the wall down (Birthday express.)
Finally, I read the last page of the book, Thank you for being really useful by helping Cranky, Toby, Percy and James. There is one more place we need to visit, but the missing picture has been buried under an avalanche of snow in the mountains of Sodor. Can you find the picture and rescue any engines lost in the snow? You would really need to see the book to understand the last page. If you had the book, you would see a photograph of Cranky, Toby and Percy and a big blank space where you are supposed to put a picture of yourself. I changed it and implied that a picture was missing and needed to be found. I took some white cardstock, drew a picture of a Birthday cake on it and cut it to the shape of the space in the book so that it looked like it had fallen out. The idea was that when they found the picture, they would know that the last destination on their tour was for cake and ice cream.
Anyhow, the children followed the tracks back into the house to a room with a big sign on the door which said Danger, Avalanche ahead, and another sign that said The Mountains of Sodor with a picture of a snowman. The letter from Sir Topham Hatt was taped to the door and read, Some engines have fallen off of the tracks and gotten buried in the snow. Can you help to dig them out? If you look hard, you may even find the lost picture for the book. Good luck! The kids were really excited about snow, but a little apprehensive about opening the door. What they didn't know was that my husband was inside standing on chair ready to shake a HUGE box of white packing peanuts onto their heads as they entered the room. As I slowly opened the door, the kids came in and were delighted to get snowed upon. It is such a small bedroom that the snow was about 3 inches deep. As the children frolicked, I hid a bunch of wooden trains, that are also whistles, in the snow. I also hid the picture in the snow.
After the kids found all the trains and located the last picture, they realized that the last stop was Cake and Ice-cream. They screamed for joy and ran to the table. A sign in front of the table read Refueling Station. I used a royal blue table cloth with Thomas plates and strung red, yellow and blue steamers all around. I made a giant poster of Thomas and put it on the wall behind the birthday boy. Its quite easy to make if you own a projector that takes small pictures and makes them big. You simply trace it onto paper taped onto the wall. (See Heathsong.com) Each place setting had a little foam train engine that I assembled from a kit from OTC. I created little cargo cars out of cardstock and attached these to the engines with yarn and a hot glue-gun. Each cargo car was filled with some m&ms. Also, I used white cardstock paper to make smoke to blow out of the smokestack. I wrote the child's name on the smoke, glued a toothpick to it and stuck it into the foam smokestack.
I baked my own cake using three loaf pans, keeping two uncut and dividing the third into two equal halves The first loaf formed the base of an engine, with the cab being formed from the one half loaf. The coal car followed as the other half loaf and I used the last loaf as a cargo car. I colored white frosting to royal blue using Wilton frosting paste coloring. Chocolate covered graham crackers were used on the top of the cab and broken Oreos were used for coal. I placed red licorice in the cargo car and used whole Oreos as wheels with M&m hubcaps. I frosted an ice cream cone with chocolate frosting and decorated it with m&ms for the smokestack. Right before we lit the candles on the cake, I filled the smokestack with white whipped cream. Thomas's face was frosted with white frosting. I used white life savers for eyes and used wiltons black icing to color the center of his eyes and to draw on the details of his face. It was very cute. I always refrigerate my cakes and use wooden skewers to hold the pieces in place until the party, otherwise things slip off the cake. After we sang, I passed out ice cream bars before I cut the cake. This way, everyone was quiet and satisfied while I butchered up Thomas. After this, the kids played and played.
Everyone was having too much fun playing in the snow, on the train tracks, at the train table, or with the fishing poles to open presents. I plan to send thank-you notes with the picture of each kid for his frame and I will also include these cute flat wooden trains that I found at Michael's crafts. I would like to write thank you on these trains and glue a magnet on the back of each so that the children can put them on their refrigerator and remember the great day they had on the Island of Sodor.
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