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» Mural

Ages: 3 & up

Use poster (tempera) paints that are bright and thick. You may want to borrow some paintbrushes from school or ask each child to bring one for the day. Sizes of the brushes can vary from 1” to 4” or even wider. Long or shorthanded ones will work. The more variety in the size of the brushes, the more attractive the mural will be.

Tack or tape a very large piece of paper to the side of the house or to the fence. You can buy a roll of brown paper at a paint supply store and tape lengths of the paper together widthwise to make the sheet of paper taller. Spread newspapers or plastic dropcloths underneath. Large orange juice can make good paint containers. Setting several cans into a baking pan on the ground reduces spilling.

Older children may want to plan a theme for their mural and add a great amount of detail. Younger children will have a great time painting in their own space in their own way. Refrain from telling the kids what and how to paint. However the kids do it, the mural is sure to be amazing and beautiful.

» Glitter Painting

Ages: 4 and up

This is festive and especially attractive to kids. Get small shakers of glitter. Empty each shaker halfway and put the extra glitter into empty spice bottles with shaker tops to provide at least one shaker for every two kids. The children apply paint as usual and shake glitter onto the paint while it is still wet. The glitter will stick to the paint and will look terrific. This project is very messy but loads of fun.

» Printing

Ages: 4 and up

Provide several shallow pie tins with different colors of tempera paint. Kids print by dipping objects into the paint and then pressing an image onto the paper. Objects that make good printers include: toothbrushes, corks, empty spools from sewing thread, empty scotch tape rolls, bolts, small pieces of sponge, kitchen utensils such as cookie cutters and wire whisks, plastic tabletop toys, and vegetables cut to print shapes (for example, a celery stick, which prints a “C” shape, or the cut end of a carrot stick, which prints a solid circle design, or a potato that has been partly cut out leaving a protruding shape to dip into the paint ).


[IMPORTANT: balloons are great fun, but remember that every once in a while, a child may have a sensitivity to latex. Also, children need to be supervised to make sure they do not end up putting balloons or pieces of balloons into their mouths. Charles has attended thousands of parties and events, during which he’s used hundreds of thousands of balloons – and has never seen a choking incident; they are rare, but we need to be vigilant].

"By far the most difficult aspect of interacting with a balloon is blowing it up. A balloon pump is an inexpensive and such a worthwhile investment that there should be a law requiring that balloons and pumps be sold together or not at all.

If a child insists on trying to blow up a balloon by mouth, monitor the experimenting and conclude it as quickly as possible. Very few children succeed at balloon blowing, and those whose determination exceeds their abilities are likely to end up with an unpleasant headache.

» Balloon Collage

Ages: 3 & up

Prepare an assortment of balloons, securing each by tying or taping it to a weight. A small piece of wood, a rock, or a table anchor will do just fine. To make a table-anchor, run a strong piece of cord along the length of your crafts table, circling back under to connect with the other end of the cord. Allowing as much room as possible for each child to work, tie the balloons to the cord.

It is fun to turn a balloon into a spherical collage. Supply white glue, Q-tips, glue sticks, scraps of colored paper, feathers, sparkles, ribbon, pieces of cloth or felt, and other lightweight odds and ends. Then just stand back and let the children go to work!

Avoid setting specific goals. Instead, offer a number of suggestions: balloon faces, animals, flowers, foods, baseballs … or balloon decorations. The finished product does not have to resemble anything and need reflect only the joy of making it.

» Hopping Balloons

Ages: 8 & up

There is something rather amusing about watching a balloon hop down the street!

Balloon-hoppers are made from large, round balloons. Insert a marble into the mouth of the balloon. Push gently until it is a good quarter-inch beyond the opening. Now inflate the balloon. As soon as inflation has been completed, pinch the open end, sealing the balloon. Turn it over so that the mouth of the balloon is on the bottom, and allow the marble to find its way into the opening. Slowly release your grip. The marble will remain in place, blocking the escape of any air.

Toss the balloon, mouth down, toward a hard surfaced floor or cement patio.

The balloon will hit the ground, the marble will bounce up, a shot of air will be forced out, and the marble will again lodge against the mouth of the balloon sealing the air within it. The balloon, having zoomed up, will again hit the ground and … well, the darn thing will hop all over the place! You might want to hold a balloon race, or put on some music and have a balloon dance.

» Balloon Sculpture

Ages: 7 & up

Those long, thin balloons that magicians and clowns use when making balloon animals are available at most toy stores and novelty shops. If there is a magician’s supply shop where you live, you can purchase these in bags of a 100. If you have difficulty finding them, email us and will get you a source.

These lengthy balloons aren’t as delicate as you might imagine. Joining two inflated ones is easily accomplished. Line them up side by side, gripping both in a clenched left fist. Turning the wrist to that the balloons flip over, secure a right grip immediately adjacent to the left hand. Then twist your wrists in opposite directions so that the portion of balloon in your right hand is turning in a different direction from the portion in your left hand the two balloons will twist together, locking in a squishy “X.” Refer to the website below for very good pictures of how to twist a balloon.

The procedure is almost instinctive. When CHARLES passes out balloons at a party, children quite often return to him to display the twists and turns they have accomplished with virtually no instruction.

Blow up at least three balloons per child – more if you can. After showing the group how to twist one to another, let the kids start experimenting. Parent assistants may offer advice and guidance.

» Balloon Hats

Ages: 7 & up

Twisting the ends of a balloon together to form a loop, place it over your head and you have a balloon hat. Other versions produce balloon necklaces, bracelets, or even belts. It is also fun to fit the loop loosely over the head so that you can look through it – the world is much more colorful that way! Demonstrate and assist.

» Balloon Animals

Ages: 8 and up

Children’s entertainers are fond of demonstrating their ability to make balloon animals. They blow up and twist long, thin balloons, connecting ends and middles, turning and shaping until in less than a blink, the inflated tubes have been transformed into puppy dogs, birds, rabbits and more. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred different balloon animals that can be made from three or four balloons.

Balloon animal art looks difficult, but it is not. Almost anyone who can turn a wrist can learn to join the ends of a balloon together or to connect one balloon to another. A great how-to site:

» Mobiles

Ages: 8 to 10

Mobiles are constructions that use three-dimensional objects and hang freely. Stabiles stand in one place.

Provide each child with the basic hanging unit for the mobile. The children can add other paraphernalia as they wish.

Small sticks, plastic straws cut into the short pieces, driftwood, plastic plumbing pipe, or thick doweling make good cross bars. Attach them together with fishing line or heavy thread either strung through predrilled holes or wrapped around and tied.

Among the items that the kids can attach are: bells, wood chunks and spools, metal bolts, nuts, washers, corks, feathers, fabric scraps, sticks, driftwood, shells (some have tiny holes), rings and tubes from tape, leaves, dried flowers, and cutout paper shapes. Almost anything will do, but colorful items and things that make noise when the wind blows them give mobiles the most zing. Use thread, fishing line, pipe cleaners, ribbon, string or thin elastic to assemble.

Explain that the challenge is to have the mobile balance. Give the children a place to hang their mobile (such as a clothesline or swing set) so they can test the balance. Also mention that the finished products don’t have to be complicated or multi-layered. A single piece of wood with four bells attached by lengths of string is a mobile that delights the eyes and ears of any observer.


Ages: 4 & up

Stabiles in Styrofoam:
Provide at lest one Styrofoam base, 2-4” thick, per child. You can buy Styrofoam at a hobby or craft store. Set out trays of items that children can easily poke into the Styrofoam (feathers, colored pipe cleaners, plastic flowers, jewels, twigs, leaves, shells, small rocks, toothpicks, tiny plastic animals, etc.) [please make sure the children keep the pieces out of their mouths].

Stabiles in Spackle:
Buy some spackling power at a hardware store and mix it with enough water to eliminate lumps and give it the texture of whipped cream. Put a little of the spackle into a plastic or metal lid or a cottage cheese container. The children can stick the same materials mentioned above (Stabiles in Styrofoam) into their containers of spackle. You can use powdered paint in the spackle if you want to add color.

The creations will harden in from forty minutes to an hour (do this early in the party; then come back later to see the results).