A Winter Knight's Tale 6-8yr - Knight Games
Cheryl in Williamsburg, VA
March 2011 Winner
A Winter Knight's Party (6-8 year olds) Our son requested a knight party for his birthday. I wasn't sure how this would go at first, since the party would be in January and most knightly games involve ACTION more suited to out-doors, but we brainstormed and came up with a plan.
INVITATIONS A simple castle shape with a sign above the castle doors that read: Please join us in celebrating (name) 6th Birthday! Inside the castle doors was a knight clipart image and text box with the party location, time, and RSVP details. With the doors open, the card stands on its own. On the back of the invitation, a small poem set our party mood and gave hints about our games: When winter feasts are over What's a knight to do? Rest until the snow melts? Wait for something new? Lances, swords and arrows Are never quite at rest. A knight must always practice For future games and quests. The dragon's gotten restless, The falcons need to fly, So come to (name)'s party And give your skills a try! For thank you notes, we included a photo of each child in knight attire that could fit inside the castle doors.
DECORATIONS We hung a medieval looking flag by our front door to welcome guests. (I found some garden flag type materials in the remnants bin at my local fabric store. I sewed the edges tight to make a yellow rectangular flag. I then sewed on a red, medieval cross symbol with a zigzag stitch.) In the party rooms, we hung homemade banners made from cardstock and a rope-like silver tinsel garland from the dollar store. The yellow, red, and blue triangles cut from card stock were stapled to the garland. On every other triangle, was a glued cross symbol cut from the paper scraps. We covered our cake/party table with a yellow plastic cloth. With purple plates, gold napkins, and goblets (plastic wine glasses from Target with self adhesive jewels from craft store), we really had a royal-looking, knightly gathering place! My kindergartner LOVED making the goblets. Our table centerpiece was a fire lamp" found on ebay. I scattered some silver tinsel around the base of the lamp then sprinkled the golden dots from the helmet construction for more pizazz. The castle was full of swords, spider webs, falcons (extras were hanging in key locations) joust props, and dragon from the games, also acted like decorations and gave our party place a great atmosphere.
COSTUMES We decorated our guests too! I sewed tunics from felt (red blue or yellow). These were simple over the head rectangles (13x18.5ish inches or two tunics out of 3/8 yard of 72" felt from fabric store). I added a neck hole cut a narrow "D" shape for the arms and added 1 foot of 1" silver ribbon to each side for ties. Also each knight was given a favor bags were made from brown remnant fabric. I sewed simple drawstring bags and added a long handle so the knights could wear the bag over their shoulder to collect prizes from the games as we went along. The final part of the costume was a very cool helmet made from poster board found at the Cleveland Museum of Art Cool Knights. The visor really lifts! (Held by brass fasteners).
ACTIVITIES AND GAMES 1) Decorate your own shield craft. I cut shield shapes out of medium sized cardboard boxes and hot glued a 1" strip to the back for handles (add some duct tape for extra security). I just set out the markers and let them at it.
2) Cleaning the Castle: Centipedes Game Over the fall our castle had became dirty there were large centipedes taking over the walls Knights to the rescue! It was their job to remove the centipedes which they were happy to do because they were gummy candy. The creatures were hung by string from the ceiling. The knights had to keep their hands behind their backs and use just their mouths to remove the centipedes. Much laughter and joy ensued from this simple party game! It was a silly way to start the party and help the kids get over their new-place jitters! Setting the stage for the next game I asked "would there be another way for knights to clear insects from the kingdom?" Each knight received a homemade felt knight finger puppet for their favor bag.
3) Flying Falcons Game Knights and falcons go together like HISTORY! We discussed how the falcons that knight's used to fly get restless over winter so it is critical that knights take them out of the castle to stretch their wings and catch some fresh grub! In this game knights work with a partner. The falcon is made of cardstock paper with painted details on a recycled cardboard tube. A string is stretched through the paper tube falcon from one knight to his/her partner. To fly the falcon the child nearest the bird must raise their end of the string up while the other child lowers their end to the floor keeping the string taut so that gravity glides the bird down the string. When the bird reaches the floor the child nearest the falcon picks it up while raising his/her string high. When the child's partner has her/his end on the floor the bird is ready to glide down the string again. (In this game birds can fly backwards!) It can be helpful to make a line on the floor to keep the knights separated by a good distance. This helps them keep the string taut. Once the kids get the hang of flying the falcon it's time to go insect hunting. On the bottom of the falcon's outstretched feet was a hot-glued magnet. On the floor between the fliers were small popsicle sticks with stretchy/rubber insects rubberbanded to one side and magnets hot-glued to the other. (Of course real knights would use hawks and larger falcons to go MAMMAL hunting. In this party game we opted for a smaller insect eating species because my boys didn't want to hunt rabbits or other furry "game" for their party.) Each knight collected a squishy bug for their favor bag from this game.
4) Storm the Castle Catapult Game The knights flung tiny boulders from miniture catapults at a castle cut out and retreived a "boulder" (bouncy ball) for their favor bag. I mostly followed the directions for making a teeny tiny catapult from http://www.stormthecastle.com/catapult/teeny-tiny-catapult/make-the-teeny-tiny-catapult1.htm but substituted colored duct tape for all but the hinge thinking that kindergartners might be hard on regular masking tape. I also used craft sticks rather than popsicle sticks. So I had to adjust the dimensions a bit as craft sticks are wider than popsicle sticks. For "boulders" the directions say to use crumpled paper. I wanted something a little more festive for the party so I cut squares out of a dark green piece of packing foam (soft) that I had lying around. I snipped the edges to give them a cut-stone look. However when I test fired them they were too light to fly. This was the morning of the party AACK! I quickly soaked them in a paste of corn starch and baking soda then set them on the heater to dry. This worked great! The added weight was just perfect and the white color with green foam underneath looked even more like mini-boulders. One drawback though: the coating comes off the boulders as white dust eventually. I didn't want the knights to fire at each other trying to keep this as non-violent as possible so I made two castle targets out of foam board.
5) Clean the Castle: Spider Webs! Outside the castle had gotten full of spider webs throughout the fall. Could the knights help clean them off using a bow and arrow? I drew spider web targets with a silver pen on black cardstock. I taped the cardstock onto cardboard box sides (the ends of the boxes from making shields) to make them sturdy and stood two cans of food behind to weight them. My plan was to stand them up on our deck railing outside and let the kids take turn shooting at it. However it was snowing heavily so we shot the bows and arrows inside with the targets set on the couch. This worked just fine but was a bit squishy for elbow room. Usually bows are made from a strong but flexible piece of wood and a sturdy string. Ours were made from a sturdy inflexible stick and rubber bands looped together. My son's idea it worked great and were relatively easy for the kids to handle. I had the whole family search for 8 good sticks for bows when we went for a walk. This was great fun in itself! I used a pocket knife to remove some of the bark on the sticks. The string part was rubber bands looped together. I used a stronger rubber band to connect the string of rubber bands to both ends of the stick. We used pencil-width wooden dowels for the arrows. However these really broke easily (lasted for the party but less than a week after). What works better is hard plastic tubes but I couldn't find enough cheaply for the job. Anyway I put a pencil eraser on the end to give it some weight (better flight). My neighbor helped me notch the ends so they could better fit/grip the rubber band string a bit. The knights received a lego bow and arrow piece for their favor bag (from pick-a-brick online). (Note: this game was a parent/kid compromise. Kids wanted a bow and arrow game mom wanted non-violent alternatives so shooting at spider webs was our compromise!)
6) Feed the Dragon Game (The kids insisted that we didn't play a game that would hurt the dragon.) Oh no! The friendly dragon that lives near our castle has lost his fire! The dragon is feeling sad and grumpy! Are there any brave knights that could deliver fire back to the dragon and save the castle? In this game our knights attempted to throw magic "fire" balls (from Merlin of course!) into the dragon's mouth. Dragon Finger puppets for all who attempt the brave deed! It was 10pm the night before the party before I had this game figured out. Luckily I was able to assemble a dragon from boxes and hot glue and got it painted in time. The dragon's mouth was open with teeth made of regular paper so the knights would be able to throw the fire in. I made fire balls just big enough to fit a bouncy ball inside (basically a red pocket with "flames" sewn in the edges from black red and gold remnant fabric with yellow orange and red ribbons for effect). The knights put their bouncy balls from the catapult game in and took turns tossing the fire into the dragon. The fireballs were my favorite creation of the party.. .they look really cool flying through the air with their flames dancing around. I will definitely be making these again!
7) Joust Game With Lances "Here ye hear ye says the King. It is time for the knights to show off their jousting skills!" Object of game: throw lance through golden hoop How to play: saddle up your horse grab a lance charge at target and toss lance through Bystanders: cheer on their fellow knights with friendly bugle calls Reward: bugle chocolate silver coins and king finger puppets First I made bugles for the bystanders from 1) cardboard tube (paper towel or wrapping paper) 2) top third of a 1 liter pop bottle 3) handle from 1 gallon milk jug 4) gray poster paint 5) golden spray paint 6) hot glue gun. To make the joust target my plan was to use cardboard wardrobe moving boxes so a kid could go inside each end and blow their bugles out the windows. I was going to decorate each box with paint and plastic table cloth to look like a little tent. However I couldn't find any used boxes in Williamsburg VA! In the end the wood frame (2"x2" lumber) pieces were not only cheaper but easier to disassemble store and reuse (for play then house projects!) so I'm glad it worked out the way it did.
For the frame we sawed a tall (69") pole from each of 2 lumber pieces. This left 2 pieces of about 27" that we would use for support. From a third piece of lumber we sawed two more 27" support pieces so we would have a total of 4 two for each pole. We also sawed two 8" pieces for holding the crossbar at the top of each pole. That left another 26" piece to spare. The last 8' piece was the crossbar from which we would hang the target. To assemble each pole we arranged the support pieces into a T shape and fitted them together with screws on all sides until they were sturdy. No wood pieces stick out on one side to minimize trip hazards because that's where the kids would be running through with their lances their eyeballs on the target and not their feet! We screwed the small 8" piece to each pole about 7" from the top. The crossbar rested on top of these. Lastly we drilled a hole wide enough to fit a small (12") dowel in the top of each pole to add a flag for decoration.
The flags were easily sewn from a small fabric piece in the clearance remnant section of our local fabric store. I cut the rectangular piece in two hemmed all the sides folded over the vertical edge to make a pocket for the dowel and wha-la two triangle flags (10" hemmed vertically 15" hemmed to point). The poles were decorated with a plastic table cloth. I centered the cloth over the top of the pole wrapped the royal purple duct tape around then poked the dowel through. I was going to add some golden and red streamers but ran out of time. For the target (15" diameter) I traced large circular household items on the cardboard and then painted each side gold. The target attached to the crossbar with string. I adjusted the height of the target based on the height of the knight! If I did this again I'd either use a sturdier material or glue two rings together for double durability. The target held fine for the party but quickly drooped in week later play.
The lances were made from a pipe foam insulation tube striped in royal purple duct tape. Pool noodles would be fine too but I couldn't find any in January not even at a thrift store! This worked out better though as we will put them to their intended use when the boys are done with the game. For the stick horse and scooter horse I fashioned sock horse heads from materials we had around the house: stuffing from an old pillow old socks felt pieces googly eyes and ribbon. I fitted the head over two dowels and duct-taped it on to the scooter. For the stick horse I just duct-taped the head to a large dowel stick.
8) Sword Practice Game What would a knight party be without swords? I found ours discounted on-line but wouldn't you know it I saw shorter versions at Target's $1 aisle a couple weeks ago. Grrr! Instead of just handing the swords out to the knights I put them in a "stone" that I made from the box the swords were shipped in. I used a sponge and several shades of gray paint to give it a rock like look. I told them the story of Merlin and the sword in the stone and challenged them to see if they could become king by pulling the swords out. Of course they could and I gave them a merlin finger puppet to help remember the story. As for ACTION. The weather did eventually clear so I first let the kids try out the swords as boys do against each other. They had great fun chasing each other and employing their shields and helmets. When the excitement notched down a bit I brought out red/yellow/blue balloons for the boys to target.
CAKE & PARTY SNACKS We took a cake and present break between games 6&7 above. When I saw photos of a dragon cake on family fun (http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/fire-breathing-cake-687620/) I was sure this would be a hit with my son It was! Perfect for a knight party and easy to make. It is cut from one cake mix/recipe baked in two 9" rounds and frosted in green. Candy pieces for decoration include: gum drop claws marshmallow/choc chip eyes Hershey kiss nostrils chocolate graham scales fruit roll up tongue/wings. Also on the table were bowls of fruit (grapes & strawberries) and snacks (cheetohs and pretzels). At each place setting was a chocolate champagne bottle and a star lollipop (blue and yellow).
FAVORS Each knight got to take home their costume (tunic favor bag sword helmet shield) finger puppets (knight king dragon) fire ball (bouncy ball inside) lego pieces chocolate coins lollipop goblet bugle and bow with arrows. Additionally the king distributed jewels (plastic diamond shapes) as a final thank you for their hard work as our guests left. I had two very tuckered out knights after this event Birthday Boy and his big brother. One tuckered out Mom too. But boy did we have a great time making forever memories. My son's eyes shone with glee the whole time. And guess what? One of guests wore his costume to show and tell at kindergarten the next week! And knights still play in costume at our end of the neighborhood...