Go Green Party 7yr
Nancy in Fullerton, CA USA
My daughter wanted a Go Green birthday party for her 7th birthday party. She had been talking about it for months, even told her first grade teacher. So we actually did it. I just want to be sure to give credit to my daughter who inspired us to do this in the first place. I thought of making our own seed embedded paper for invitations from recycled junk mail (there are some resources on line that show you how) but ended up deciding that was much too labor & time intensive, as much as I liked the idea. I ended up finding a website ECHOage.com that does your invitations the way Evite does but this website is especially geared for kids birthdays. The child who the birthday is for gets to choose a charity through the website and when the invitations are emailed out, the guests are given the choice to make a donation instead of driving around, buying a present with accompanying packaging, wrapping the present, etc (greener). Then when everyone has had a chance to respond the total of the donations is tallied. The website gets 15% of the total. Then the remainder is divided in 2 with half going to the charity that the child chose & the other half going directly to the birthday child to buy one meaningful gift or to do with it as they please. I loved the idea, although my daughter hesitated when she thought she wouldn't get any presents. In the end we made sure on the invitation to let the invited guests know that gifts were appreciated but if they wished they could make a donation & the charity my daughter chose was Earth Corps. For the kids for whom I didn't have parents email addresses we printed out the invitations, added a few details & hand delivered them. We actually didn't do much decorating since that would merely add to the waste after the party but we did put some ornaments on our trees in the backyard. We used green & blue as the color scheme. Luckily we have a set of blue & green dishes so that went well with the theme. We went ahead & used our own dishes & cutlery but had some paper plates on hand in case we ran out. I meant to use our cloth napkins (it would have been a hodge podge of colors & sizes) but I ran out of time & forgot to put them out in the end. We had the party in the mid afternoon so we had snacks/finger food which lessened the utensils needed. Some things I found were organic or local although not all. For the food we had fruit kebabs (Fruity Biofuel). veggies & dip (Trees, Roots & Shoots), corn salad (Corn-post Salad), edamame (Soylar Bean Energy), Snap Pea Crisps, Cheddar curls (from the farmers market), the Naked brand Green Machine (a very yummy juice smoothie) & water in a big pitcher (Cool Clear Water). For activities we started off making bird feeders out of empty water bottles. I had drawn circles (about 2 inches diam) on 2 sides of the bottle about ¾ of the way down & made a large cross-hatch in the middle of it with an exacto knife so that the kids had an easy place to start with their scissors. Then I poked a small hole with a nail a little below that circle & had them use golf tees to make the whole big enough to put a dowel through each side. I had them decorate them using different colored Sharpie markers. When they were done I had them tie a string around the neck of the bottle & replace the cap. I bought a bag of birdseed (about $7 for 10 lbs) & they scooped out a cupful of birdseed to take home with them. I'm a pack rat & save all of our kids drinks take home cups with the lids that you get from restaurants & I had a ton of those. We used these for the kids to take their birdseed home in. Got the dowels and birdseed at Walmart, the Sharpies pack at Costco and luckily we had house-guests a few weeks prior & had a lot of empty water bottles. I had printed out some activity sheets that I got online from the EPA website (http://www.epa.gov/kids/) for the kids who were done & waiting for the next activity. There's a whole plethora of things to look through so that you can choose activity sheets that are appropriate for your parties age group. I used some activities from the Follow That Trail booklet online for the Planet Protectors club through this EPA website (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/education/kids/planetprotectors/index.htm). Next I read the kids a book I had borrowed from the library. I actually borrowed a few books & movies. I was planning on having them displayed on a table to the side or something so the kids could have some to look at if they were done but never got around to that either. But the movie that I found that I would have liked to show if I could have found a way to show it in the garage was a half hour VHS of Sesame Street's Sing-Along Earth Songs. It had catchy songs & gave my kids ideas for activities. It was good for the 3-6 yr age group. The book I chose to read was Earth Smart-How to Take Care of the Environment by Leslie Garrett. It pretty much covered what I thought we might need to cover in order for the kids to be able to play the games we planned. Here are a couple of other titles that I found that were good for various reasons: Each Living Thing by Joanne Ryder A Cool Drink of Water (a National Geographic book) by Barbara Kerley The Great Kapok Tree-A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry After we read the story we divided the kids into 2 groups & sent them on a scavenger hunt (Trash Hunt). For the week or 2 prior to the party I collected various items of trash to use in the Trash Hunt (milk cartons, granola bar wrappers, metal food cans, etc). We had come up with a few riddles for clues & then ran out of time so the kids were given a list of items (& how much of each they were to find) & then for bonus they had the 3 or 4 riddles we came up with to find the last few items. After that (they had gathered all the items into a bag for each team) I had 5 boxes placed in the yard (one labeled Recyclable, another Reusable, another Compostable, another Household Hazardous Waste & the last Disposable Waste. These were set up for our Three R's race or our Waste Race. I gave each team a stack of red stickers for one team & blue stickers for the other & each person took a turn taking an item out of their trash bag, labeling it with a team sticker & then they had to figure out which box it belonged in. There were some items that could go in a couple of boxes. Once they were done with all their items I was going to go through & count all the items that each tem had placed correctly but we were running out of time so we went straight to the last activity which was to plant seeds. I had collected egg cartons (I have a nephew that raises chickens & is always in need for more egg cartons) & bought a bag of dirt from Home Depot. I dumped the bag of dirt into a spot in the yard & placed the egg cartons around. The kids were given scoops to scoop some dirt into each egg cup in their egg carton (you can always cut the cartons in half too) & then had them choose the seeds they wanted to plant. I had a bunch of different packets of vegetable seeds from before & made a numbered list with the name of the vegetable, the amount of sun needed & how far apart they needed to be planted & made copies of these to put in the kids goody bags. Each packet of seeds had a number on it so that when the child chose that seed packet they would label the appropriate place on the carton with that number so that when they got home they would be able to remember what they had planted. We didn't water the seeds but they were told to water them once they got home. I also put together a little quiz for the parents & had a prize for the parent with the most right answers. People were amazed at some of the answers (like How many years does it take for glass to decompose in a landfill? 1,000,000 years, How many plastic bottles do Americans throw out every hour? 2.5 million bottles) I'm afraid I forgot where I got these from but they were online too. Then it was time for snacks & cakeâ˜º I had made cookies called Bird's Nest Cookies using chow mein noodles & cornflakes & coconut for the nest part & candy covered pastel almonds for the eggs. It was really cute. People really liked them. I got the recipe from Barbara Beery's Fairies recipe book (she has a series; a Princess cookbook, Mermaid Cookbook , a Fairies one & probably more but those are the ones I know about). I ended up ordering the cake & cupcakes (my daughter wanted cupcakes). We got 2 dozen cupcakes (17 kids & about 10 adults) & a single layer round cake that the bakery did in an earth motif (I had to bring them an image so that they could copy it). There are actually recipes & tips on line for making a home made earth cake (Wilton has a ball shaped cake tin that is half of a sphere that you could use or they also have a 2 piece set each is half of a sphere & you could actually make the cake into the shape of a globe but making & decorating the cake was too much stress for me so I chose to order it. We had blue & green sugar crystals & blue & green dolphin sprinkles for the cupcakes And the round cake was all blue with the motif of North & South America in green & the trim at the bottom was like waves of the ocean. We served home made ice cream with the cake also, which can easily be made well ahead of time if you have an ice cream maker! For the goody bags I was blessed with the support of the surrounding communities. When I first started to explore ideas for a Go Green kids birthday party I had a hard time coming up with games, ideas & resources so I emailed our local Waste Management company & city maintenance department. They were so supportive & quite impressed that my soon to be 7 year old daughter wanted a Go Green party. We got Watershed and Conserving Earth's Resources activity books, pencil cases with pencils, ruler & eraser from the engineering department, & Frisbees made of recycled plastic. I also got flower seed packets, Kids Clif bars, bookmarks (embedded with seeds), & Planet Earth activity books for the boys & a bead kit for each of the girls. I bought reusable bags made from recycled plastic bottles from Trader Joe's for $0.99 each also which were great because the kids could fit their bird feeders, cup of bird seeds & egg cartons of planted seeds into them. I also included a list of website resources if kids wanted to do or learn more about the environment. I actually had some other back up activities if we ran out of things to do but it was actually hard to squeeze in all we did. But I had collected a bunch of shoe boxes (we also got from our neighbors) & was planning to have the kids decorate them with glass vase fillers /acrylic jewels & glue dots to make treasure boxes. I had also found a recipe for a Luscious Layered Landfill (kind of like the dirt cups you make with pudding, oreo cookie crumbles, etc). Here is the web address I got it from (page 173-176 of the document): http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/education/quest/pdfs/sections/u2_chap4.pdf This document is actually an Activities & Resources document for teachers K-8 (Quest for Less) which is where I refined our ideas for the party activities. I don't usually spend this much time on typing these things but I had a hard time figuring out what to do & thought it would be nice for anyone else who might need ideas to have some place to start. I've used this website for many of my previous parties & thought I should contribute at least once!