Guest Author - Kristi Larson
So often at parties “for toddlers” they just eat cake and ice cream and open presents. I hate these parties because they aren’t FOR the toddlers. Actually they are boring FOR the toddlers! If you are going to throw a party for a toddler, then truly celebrate what the toddler loves to do! They love to explore and they always get dirty! They do not, however, have very developed social skills, so don’t expect them to interact much with the other children at the party. This is perfectly normal!
There are many themes that are perfect for toddlers: bubbles, balls, colors, music, building, and art. The idea is to go overboard with the theme, use it for invitations, decor, activities and food.
BUBBLES – Toddlers LOVE bubbles! You can blow bubbles for them to pop and fill small tubs with warm soapy water (add a few drops of food coloring or tub tints for colored bubbles). Large white inflated balloons representing bubbles will provide a great deal of fun as the little ones bat them around – just be sure to immediately pick up any pieces if any balloons pop!
BALLS – Balls come in all shapes and sizes, try to find as many different kinds as possible. One game that you could have the tots play would be to give each one a ball and see who could get theirs into a pail or laundry basket. Another idea is to paint with the balls by putting a little paint onto paper and letting each child roll a ball or balls through the paint. This works best if you put the paper in a container to keep the ball from rolling away. Bowling with bumpers, a small tee ball for toddlers, and buckets for balls are all good ideas for this theme.
COLORS – A brightly colored parachute would be a big hit here. The children can toss balls with it, raise it up high and go under it, or come up with their own games. They could play with a variety of playdough, finger or brush paints, or colored ice. See if the children can match a red ball with a red pail or container, a yellow ball with a yellow bucket, etc. You can also use balloons and balls in a variety of colors.
MUSIC – Music appeals to children of all ages, including toddlers. You can use children’s music or adult, they really don’t care which – they just love the rhythm! Gather a variety of age appropriate instruments, or make your own – maracas, drums, sticks, whistles, bells, and keyboards are all excellent choices. The kids can jam, or they can march in a parade. For this age fingerplays and action songs are extremely appealing. Some traditional favorites include “The Wheels On the Bus”, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. One of my favorite websites for children's music is playhouseradio.com - I highly recommend it!
ART – Despite the fact that they always get dirty, not every toddler likes to make a mess. For these little ones you can mix cornstarch, water, a little liquid starch, and food coloring in a Ziploc bag and they can squish it around.
For the rest there are many activities that are appealing. Painting, with fingers, brushes, bubbles, colored whipped cream, ice cubes; playdough and clay sculpting; even painting their feet and letting them toddle across paper. Just have someone ready at the other end with a washbasin!
Toddlers are my favorite age, they have such a way of finding fascination in the simplest things. A few simple games and activities will be completely enthralling to them, while allowing the kids to be kids. Remember that toddlers may have their own schedule and it may not coincide with yours, so don’t get frustrated if they only want to play with the boxes and not what's in them! This is a day to celebrate the toddler...and all that they do!