Break out spaces for kids’ parties?

If it works in the classroom, why wouldn’t it work at home? Yesterday I trialled break out spaces for a kids’ party and it worked out so well!

I have a love/hate relationship with kids’ parties. On one hand, it is great to celebrate with your kid and make them feel special, invite their friends and treat everyone to a good time. On the other hand there is anxiety about who to invite, if they will come, how to entertain them and if it will be exciting or memorable enough. Then there are friendship issues and group dynamics and siblings feeling left out and… the list goes on. In a classroom groups are easier to manage when choice is on offer so I shifted some furniture around to make a bit of a rotation station style free-roaming party.

As a disclaimer we don’t do competitive parties and I loathe goody bags for their (typically) plastic content so this post is about activities and spaces, and not decorations and things.

I love break out spaces in the classroom. I love how students can find what they want to do when they want to do it. It feels silly but I had never tried a rotation station style of party planning. But why shouldn’t it be worth a go?

What were the rotations?

Rave room

We emptied and darkened miss 8’s room and put up fairy lights and a sound system. We put in a lava lamp and gave them glow sticks for a ‘rave room’. I had a kids’ party play list on Spotify and used a Disco Lights app that I put on facing a mirror for the stribing/color change effects to be a bit exciting. This room ended up being such a hit that the adults were wandering around enjoying the relative quiet of the rest of the house. (Big win! We actually had a coffee catch up with a friend during the party uninterrupted!). Of course we checked on the little ravers frequently and relocated any that needed quiet to the next space which, conveniently was the opposite.

Sensory table

Outside on the deck I put a big Splat Mat and table of orbeez and slime for sensory relaxing/quiet play. I made Galaxy slime to match the cake which was really fun to play with too.

Bubble box

On another table at the other side of the garden was a box of bubble mixes and bubble wands. Even bigger kids like blowing bubbles, don’t they? This was also great for littles tagging along with their parents.

Food table

We did do a structured lunch with hot food but the grazing table meant kids could get snacks and drinks when they needed them.

Pinata tree

We hung a big star on a tree and filled it with lollies. This was the only other ‘structured’ part of the party.

Splat game

We put a ‘dont step on it’s play dough game outside on the lawn to play with.

Crafting

I’m going to be honest and although I had prepared the materials to make Galaxy jars, we didn’t need the crafting table because the kids were so happy roaming the other stations but I was pleased that I had it as a back up plan just in case. That peace of mind that I had something else up my sleeve was golden.

Why did break out spaces work so well?

There were plenty of activities to do solo or in pairs. There were loud activities and quiet activities and there was a nice range of options. Previously I’ve found it stressful getting everyone together for pass the parcel, dance competitions and pin the tail games and the ‘watching the clock’ part of the party is not fun for me at all. The rotation stations took all that time pressure away. I could just focus on cooking food, preparing the cake and catching up with parents.

The only down side was rearranging furniture back at the end of the day but, given the high spirits everyone was in, it didn’t feel like too much of a chore. Like teaching, the set up and clean up is worth it if the time spent in the learning/playing zone can be optimised to be enjoyed by everyone.

Oh and I made a Galaxy mirror glaze cake. And, because the break out spaces made the party so relaxing, I actually got to eat some.

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