Idea No.


Native American Indian -9yr- Indian Names



February 2012


Janelle in Richland, WA  USA

Runner Up


(First note that anytime I type Indian" it is interchangable with "Native American.)"My daughter Ellie turned 9 and she came up with the idea of an "Indian" birthday party.  It was an absolute success in all aspects! 

INVITATIONS:  The invitations were hand made I got on the internet and typed in "Indian coloring pages". I found a darling Indian girl holding a basket of veggies.  I copied and cut her out glued her on some colorful paper and had my daughter color bits and pieces of her like the corn pumpkin shoes and feathers. I typed and also cut out "Please come to Ellie's 'Wigwam' for her 9th birthday 'Pow Wow'!"  Inside I wrote all the details and also noted If you'd like to dress up like an Indian or wear earth-tone colors please do. The head-dress will be provided.  I also told the kids to bring their own labeled mixing bowl since they will help make lunch. ( I had the party from 12:00- 2:30.  I have never served lunch at a party but I found there are so many easy and good Indian foods I could serve. It was a success!(Details of food are following.))After finishing the invitation I hole punched the top corner and tied it was a brown piece of yarn that way there was no need for an envelope. She could just hand them out as is.

DECORATIONS:  First I went to a home improvement store and found a roll of brown painting paper. It's a roll of like 500 feet by 3 feet. I used this all over.  Our dining room (table moved out) was converted into Ellie's wigwam. I bought one container of tempera brown paint and first glued two to three sections together making it about 6-9 feet across and painted a simple outline of a teepee with a ladder and a sunshine and the other opening was a painted wigwam (looked like a hut) that said "Ellie's Wigwam" on top. On the sidewalk leading up to our house she drew with chalk or you could use ash Indian symbols.  I had my daughter draw real Indian symbols (from the internet) with a Sharpie all over the painted teepee and wigwam.  I cut a triangle opening on the teepee and that's where the kids entered and cut an adult size opening on the wigwam side. I used poster putty and push pins to keep these "murals" in place.  I also lined the floor with this brown paper and taped it down to keep the mess at a minimum. Ellie also drew large Indian symbols on the floor paper.  I also cut out with the same brown paper a sign over the front door that said "Ellie's Pow Wow" with more symbols and fringed it. On the sidewalk leading up to our house she drew with chalk or you could use ash more Indian symbols. I bought a roll of brown paper towels (the type most schools used) and drapped sections of it from our light outward to make it feel like a teepee inside (also used poster putty).If you can't find the brown paper towels cut strips of your brown painting paper.) I grabbed every basket and fake tree I own and decorated the corners.  Inside this "wigwam" was where the majority of the party was held. My husband and I wore silver and beads earth-tone colors and a western shirt with a bandanna with our "Indian name" written with a few feathers taped. My husband also had Indian markings on his cheeks and nose and stayed in character as soon as they came. I took a trip to the thrift store with my daughter and found great Indian necklaces for $1 and two colorful Indian-like blankets for $2. I spread one of the blankets on the floor of the wigwam and Ellie draped the other across her shoulder with the Indian necklaces on top. Cute!

THE PARTY: When they arrived my husband asked "what your name?" "You are ___ no longer." They had to find little Indian symbols 1x1 inch cards I cut that I hid all over the front room. Once they found one they would find him and he would give them their new Indian name that my daughter made up beforehand (to save time). Names like Running Spring Playful Daisy and Summer joy. Also beforehand I bought white poster board painted it with my brown paint real lightly to look like leather and cut into strips. That was where they wrote their new name taped (not glue it wouldn't dry in time)on feathers and measured their head to wear and be called for the day. Next in the wigwam the kids took a brown yarn wig to braid. What I did for the wig was beforehand cut 20 long strands measuring the length to my head (about 3-4 feet)and tied it with string in the center. About half did not know how to braid so they followed my instruction and learned a new skill!! I bought bobby pins and black rubber bands for $1.00 each. Adults secured the ends and pinned them to their head with their band over the braids.(I had one boy attend he just skipped the braids and had the band with feathers even though Indian men did have long hair too.) After their headdress was done they grabbed their mixing bowls. (This is where I needed my adult helpers.)

LUNCH: You can do so much with your menu!! But this is what I chose to do: I had two adults man the stove because we made Indian fry bread! Little sticky but a huge success.  Other Moms were in charge of one ingredient like : salt milk baking pwdr sugar and flour.  My recipe I liked: 1/2 c. flour 3/4 t bakpder 1/4 t. salt 1/4 t. sugar 1/4 cup milk. Stir and knead use more flour if needed. Form a flat frisbee and fry and flip til done. That's it. They mixed it with a fork in their bowl from home. (There are tons of Indian fry bread recipes on the internet. I tested three and found my favorite. I recommend testing  it esp. with your birthday person beforehand. Younger kids will need help.) Once their dough looked right they went over to the "fry moms" and she fried it and I gave them only cinnamon and sugar as a topping (to save time). Other toppings: powder sugar honey or jelly if you'd like. My mom helpers also helped with cleaning the kid's bowls too. I also served corn on the cob with butter & salt. (I wished it was in season but I bought it in bulk anyway.) Lastly beef jerky (but we called it "Buffalo jerky.") Every kid gobbled it all up and wanted seconds!

GAMES:  While they ate my husband asked the kids about Indian facts they know and he told a little of what he knew and my daughter played an Indian song she knew on our piano. (By the way my paper plates were all solid brown to look like clay.) This part of the party took some time so if you'd like while the bread is frying you can play one of these Indian games that we played or wait til after they eat which is what we did. The games that I chose tested their hunting skills: sight hearing and touch.

#1 Sight: "Ring on a String": Each kid minus one holds onto a string with a ring strung in and tied in a big circle standing or sitting close together. The kids always hold onto the string with both hands and slide them back and forth. They stealthily pass the ring to their neighbor as well as pretend to pass the ring to fool the kid trying to guess who has it. After about 20 seconds the kid tries to guess who has the ring. About half the time they got it. Then switch guessers they turn their back so you can move the ring to different people.

#2 Testing hearing which was an  important skill for survival in the wild :"Keeper of the Fire": All I needed was a blindfold and 3 items representing firewood. I used those free painting mixing sticks glued them in threes and wrapped them in my brown string. The "chief" (adult usually) will place the wood in front of the Fire Keeper who is seated on his/her knees hands on lap and blindfolded. The rest of the players the "Wood Gatherers" will be seated a distance away. The chief declares 'Wood Gatherers we need wood!" and points to 3 of the wood gatherers whose job it is to creep up on the Fire Keeper and steal his wood without being detected and tagged by the Fire Keeper.One point/wood piece collected (if you want to keep score.) Wood gatherers may not "rush" the Fire Keeper as the object is stealth and the Fire Keeper may only remove her hand from her lap to attempt to tag a Wood Gatherer.  After the three attempts are done by three kids switch roles.

#3 Touch: "Arrowhead Dig": We did not have time for this but just a simple idea for you if you'd like. Supplies: timer bowl of uncooked rice washers buttons or any small objects and blindfold. Pretend the small objects are arrowheads and have one or two kids at a time dig out with their hand as many arrowheads as they can in a period of time. See who dug up the most at the end. (Prize for them if you'd like but we did not do prizes.)

CRAFT:  I wanted to do some sort of weaving craft. I chose to do a "God's Eye." Instead of me explaining it you can use a search engine and type in "God's Eye weaving instructions" and you will see what it is. It took the kids about one minute to learn how then they caught on. Helpful hints: I bought wooden dowels at a craft store 10/pack. Two dowels/kid .They were not pointed at the end and they were about 10 inches long. You can use popsicle sticks if you'd like. I also pre-tied a long string around two sticks to save time. Once they finished weaving with that string they could choose a different color yarn. I had three yarns to choose from. We stopped them short of finishing and told them they could finish after the party or at home. Another craft idea I almost chose was a "Dream Catcher."

CAKE: I ordered a plain brown frosted sheet cake with "Happy Birthday Ellie!" on the bottom because in the middle I made our own campfire. Here's how: I shaved two pound cakes to make a cylinder. Frosted each with chocolate frosting but on each end of the "log" I mixed white frosting with the brown to make it lighter just like wood is. I placed the logs leaning on each other like a campfire does and used the tines of a fork to score the logs like bark. On each end I scored it in a circle motion for the rings of the logs. I cut chocolate donut hole in half for the coals/embers put a dab of frosting on top of the half and cut our flame shapes from fruit roll-ups put the flames on the donut holes and stuck to the log sides.  I gave the kids each one skewer and a powdered donut to pretend they are roasting marshmallows over the "open fire" for a great photo-op. When they sang "Happy Birthday" instead of the usual cha-cha-cha they were instructed to do a sound with their hand over their mouth "Indian style." Presents were next.

FAVORS:  The party favors were hand made and easy: I gave the girls a feather hair clip since they are so popular these days.  I bought a pack of 20 clips at Michaels two or three stems of feathers different coordinating colors (you can just pull off feathers from the stem) and hot glue the feathers to the clips. Ellie stood at the door with these in a flat basket and told them thanks for coming to my powwow and to wear the clips to school on Monday. This was one of our best birthdays and the kids really got into the theme. I planned the party from 12-2:30 and used every minute of it. I could have been 12-3:00 since I had to cut out a game and cut the craft a little short. I highly recommend besides yourself about 3-4 helpers esp. if you have lunch. One thing I did not get around to is going to the library and finding any kid's books on Indians and tribal music or drums of some sort as background music. Regardless, we all loved the party!"

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