American Girls -8yr- Bracelet Making Craft
Kristi in Washington, Oklahoma, USA
AMERICAN GIRLS (Book Series) BIRTHDAY PARTY My daughter is a big fan of the American Girls book series, and wanted to have an American Girls party to celebrate her 8th birthday. After weeks of trying to come up with ideas, inspiration finally hit while I was wandering the aisles of a craft store. We came up with a party that my daughter and all her friends loved!
INVITATIONS: I scanned in a drawing of all the American Girls' faces in a circle, and used it to make invitations, thank-you notes, and the cake decoration as well. I printed the drawing onto pre-cut round labels, which I stuck onto bigger cardstock circles. Then we glued the circles onto cardstock that I had already printed with all the party information. (Hallmark sells AG party invitations and thank-you notes, but I needed to save a little money so I printed my own. It certainly took a lot more time, but they were personalized and looked nice, too.)
DECORATIONS: We chose patriotic colors for our decorations: red, white, and blue streamers, balloons, plates, napkins, and utensils. I found some American Girls party goods at Hallmark, but with all the other party expenses, these were a little too costly. I did buy the dinner plates, which featured a drawing of all the American Girls. The trim on the plates was maroon, which fit in pretty well with our patriotic color scheme. I also bought a greeting card at Hallmark which featured a portrait of each American Girl. I scanned each portrait into my computer, enlarged them to full-sheet size, and printed them out. I trimmed them, glued them onto maroon or navy cardstock, added a ribbon to the bottom, and hung them on the wall as posters. I also checked out the first book in each American Girls series ("Meet Kit", "Meet Samantha", "Meet Molly", etc.) and stood all 8 of them up on one of the tables as decorations.
FOOD: I had considered making foods from the different American Girls' periods in history, but I've found that most kids don't each much at birthday parties, and all the time and effort goes to waste along with the food. So, we went with the All-American food--hot dogs and chips! We also had Sierra Mist to drink. For an added touch, the girls could choose to put drops of either red or blue food coloring in their drink. The birthday cake was decorated with the drawing of the American Girls I had scanned into the computer. I printed it out the size I wanted, cut it into a circle, then attached it to a circle of waxed paper with a small amount of glue. After I frosted the round cake I placed the American Girls drawing in the middle. I made little frosting stars around the outside of the circle, and when I was finished I showed my sister, who thought it was one of those edible pictures! I found the cutest candles at Hobby Lobby--they were about 3/4" in diameter and looked like red, white and blue firecrackers. Eight of them fit just perfectly around the picture on the cake, and it looked great.
PARTY TREATS: Each girl was given a set of American Girls tattoos I had made on the computer. I purchased a package of temporary body art stickers from Wal-Mart and printed the portraits of the American Girls onto the sheets at about 1" tall each. My daughter cut them apart and put a set of 8 (one of each American Girl) into tiny ziplock bags for her guests. We also made books by gluing cardstock with a ribbon attached to the back and spine of Post-It Note pads. The books closed by tying the ends of the ribbon together. I printed the portrait of all the American Girls onto round labels, and attached one to the front of the books. At the party we explained that the girls could use these for "commonplace books", something that was popular in the time of American Girl Felicity Merriman. Colonial girls would make "commonplace books" and write jokes, tongue twisters, and popular sayings of the day in them. The girls also got to take home a pretty ceramic thimble (from the "Hide the Thimble" game, below), and made their own charm bracelets (see the last paragraph of "Games and Activities" below).
GAMES & ACTIVITIES: There are eight different American Girls in the book series, so I found a game or activity that was representative of each character's time in history. Because most of the guests had not read any of the American Girls series, before each game or activity I introduced the corresponding American Girl character. I took that character's book from the table where they were used as decorations and passed it around while I told the girls a little bit about her and the time in American history in which she lived. These are the games and activities we enjoyed:
Kaya (1764)--"The Moccasin Game": This is a traditional Nez Perce game I found on the internet. The girls paired off and took off their shoes. I gave each pair a small bead. They took turns hiding the bead under one of the shoes so the other could guess which shoe it was under.
Felicity (1774)--Learning to Curtsy and "Hide the Thimble": Colonial young ladies like Felicity had to learn to curtsy properly. The girls stood up and I told them, step-by-step, how to curtsy. They practiced a little, then all had a turn to show us their best curtsy. Also in colonial times girls would play a game called "Hide the Thimble", in which all the girls would leave the room except one, who stayed behind to hide a thimble. Then the others would return and search for the thimble. We played this a little differently. I bought a box of 12 ceramic thimbles decorated with painted flowers. My husband hid all 12 thimbles in the party room, so each girl got to search for, find, and take home her pretty thimble, which they loved.
Josefina (1824)--"Waltz of the Broom": Mexican children in the early 1800's would play this fun dancing game. All the girls but one paired off and formed two rows facing each other. I gave the first girl a broom, then started the music (a CD of Mexican music I found at Wal-Mart for $3). The girl with the broom had to dance with it as if it were her partner, while the others moved to the music in their lines. Then the first girl would drop the broom and grab one of the other players to be her partner. The girl now left without a partner became the new broom dancer. We played until each girl had a chance to show off her dancing skills with the broom.
Kirsten (1854)--"Apple Dance": Pioneer girls often enjoyed barn dances and this silly activity. The girls paired off again, and I gave each pair an apple. When I started the music (a kids' CD of old-fashioned "pioneer" music) the girls had to hold the apple in place between their foreheads, and dance. After a bit I would stop the music, have them change partners, and try again. This game was really difficult for them all, but they sure tried hard and laughed a lot!
Addy (1864)--"Ribbon's End": Addy and other girls of her time played a game called "Ribbon's End," which was a hit at our party. All the girls but one formed a line and put their hands on the shoulders of the girl in front of them. The odd girl out became the Chaser. Her job was to catch the "ribbon's end"--the last girl in line. The "ribbon" of girls would run, turn, and twist in an effort to keep the chaser from catching the "ribbon's end". When she did catch it, she would become the new "ribbon's end", and the girl at the front of the line became the new Chaser.
Samantha (1904)--Balancing Books and "Throwing the Smile": In her books, Samantha had to work on her posture every day by walking while balancing a book on her head. Each girl at the party got the chance to walk the length of the room while balancing "Meet Samantha" on her head. After each girl had a chance to show off her terrific posture, we moved on to a traditional Victorian-era game called "Throwing the Smile". The girls sat in a circle. One girl would begin the game by smiling for a count of 10 while everyone else sat without smiling. Then the first girl would "wipe off" her smile and "throw it" to another girl, who had to "catch it", put it on, and smile for a 10-count. Any girls who smiled out of turn were out of the game. They would then stand outside the circle and try to make the remaining players smile by making silly faces and noises (no touching allowed, though). The game continued until there was just one stonefaced girl left--the winner!
Kit (1934)--"Three Deep": We actually played a variation of this old game that turned out to be the most popular game of the evening. All the girls but two paired off, spread out, and each pair stood with their arms linked. They placed their free hands on their hips, elbows out. The other two girls were the Chaser and the Runner. The Runner would run for a few seconds, then link arms with any other girl. When she linked up, the other girl in that pair who was not the "linkee" (for lack of a better term) became the next Runner and would have to break free and run for it. If the Chaser caught the Runner, they switched "jobs", and the Runner became the new Chaser. (I hope that makes sense.) The girls just loved this game and probably would've played it all night if I'd let them.
Molly (1944)--"Statues": Most of us have played this old game that Molly liked at one time or another. One player is the Sculptor. She twirls each player around twice then lets go. The player assumes a statue-like pose and holds it. When the Sculptor has twirled each player, she chooses her favorite statue, who becomes the next Sculptor.
American Girls Bracelets: After the games we moved to a "craft area". Each girl was given red, white and blue pony beads and elastic to make a bracelet. What made these bracelets special, though, was the addition of charms to represent each of the American Girls. The charms were the biggest expense of the party. I bought them at Hobby Lobby and they were inexpensive, but I had to have 12 of each charm, which added up. So I chose those charms that I could buy in packages of multiples. Before the party I attached jump rings to the charms so the girls could just slide them on with the pony beads.
First I gave each girl a feather to represent Kaya, the native American book character. Next was a heart charm for Felicity, a sun for Josefina, and a quilt square for Kirsten, the pioneer girl. Then I gave them a star charm to represent Addy's freedom from slavery, a butterfly charm for Samantha, a softball charm for Kit, and an American flag charm for Molly, whose father was a soldier fighting overseas in World War II. Finally, I awarded a unique "Prize Charm" to each girl for her outstanding performance in one of the different games or activities. For example, for the moccasin game I gave a charm of a tipi, and for the girl who was chosen as the best "Statue", I awarded a Statue of Liberty charm.
These special charms were a little more expensive than the others, but still were only about 77 cents each at Hobby Lobby. With the addition of these charms, every girl's bracelet became unique and a little more special.
There was a lot of time, research, and work involved in the planning and preparation for this party, but it was definitely worth it. The girls all seemed to have a fantastic time, and my daughter gave it 5 stars. I couldn't ask for a better reward for my efforts than that!