Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Minecraft and Geology Themed Birthday Party that ROCKED!

Our big boy turned 7 this past summer.  When I asked him what theme he wanted for his birthday party he said "Terraria and Minecraft".  At the time, he was really into those two games, as well as another game called Miner Warfare.  If you have a boy between the ages of 5-12, there's a good chance you've heard of Minecraft. All of these games involve mining, and as someone studying Earth Sciences, I immediately realized I could turn this into a really fun AND educational theme.  Also, as it turns out, you can't find party supplies themed with any of those games, so no matter what I had to come up with everything by myself.

The kids had SO much fun!  Here's a list of all of the activities and other details involved in this rockin' birthday party, along with pictures and links to the products I purchased.

1. Dressing the Part
Construction Hats
You may be able to find them at your local dollar store, but if not, these ones will work.  I did a lot of research on these, and if you read the reviews, child-sized ones run very small.  Many reviews stated that they don't even fit their 3-year-old, so definitely go with the adult size.  I put the kids' names on the front with foam stickers.

Game Themed Shirts
If you don't have too many kids coming, or you can find decent priced shirts within your budget, you may consider matching shirts for the kids.  Since our little guy was just having his two best friends and their siblings, each of the big kids got a shirt.  The fact that they were on sale for only $5 each played a big role in that.  The ones I got were from Kmart, but there are a number of Minecraft Shirts available at Amazon.com, Target and Kohls.

2. Activities
Gem Panning

For this activity you will need: Plastic Tubs (I got one tub for every two kids), sand (I believe we used one bag for all three tubs pictured here), water, small sand sifters and shovels for each kid, assorted treasures: rocks, minerals, shells, toy fossils, etc, a collection cup or bucket for the child to put their treasures in, something for them the kids to sit or kneel on, towels, a tarp or something similar if you care about containing the mess.  During the activities we had a loop of the music from Miner Warfare playing, which the kids found hilarious.

I bought the plastic tubs (dish tubs), sand sifters, shovels and cups at the dollar store and you can find playground sand at home improvement stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot.  If you have a sandbox you could easily just bury all the stones in there and have the kids dig them out like a treasure hunt.

I bought the stones and minerals at a local store in Virginia Beach called Beads & Rocks.  They were not cheap (I spent about $70), but I wanted to be sure they had actual stones and minerals that they could keep for a collection and identify.  I purchased quartz, citrine, desert rose, amethyst, amazonite, tiger's eye, sodalite, pyrite (fool's gold), peacock fool's gold, emerald and assorted tumbled agate.  I also got each of them an arrowhead.  If you're not concerned with this you can buy tumbled stone assortments online.  I also decorated a small Sterilite storage box for each of them to keep their new rock collections in.

Break your own Geodes

For this activity, you'll need geodes (semi-hollow rocks with pretty crystals inside), safety goggles, a hammer, a hard surface, ziplock bags, and adult help and supervision.  
What worked best for us was putting each geode in a ziplock bag (to contain all of the pieces once broken), then setting it on top of a brick paver to be broken open.  If you order a box of geodes, there will be instructions on how to crack them open.  Do not let small children do this by themselves.  Adult assistance and supervision is a must!  I saved a few geodes for the adults to crack open, too, and even we had fun with them.  The links below are to the items I ordered, which I was very pleased with.

Homemade Fossil Rocks
In my online search for other party ideas I found an awesome blog post on how to make treasure stones.  I decided it would be fun to put toy fossils inside of the treasure stones.  They turned out great.  I failed to allot enough time to let them air dry for 2-3 days, so they were still a little moist in the middle, but they worked and looked just like real rocks.

You can find the recipe here.

I used the Dinosaur Skulls Toob by Safari Ltd for my fossils, but you could use any of these:

Pet Rock Painting
Another fun idea I had, which we ultimately ran out of time for, was painting pet rocks.  We ended up doing it with friends a couple days later and it was fun.  I found some nice round rocks at the craft store and paint sets, googly eyes, puff balls and glue at the dollar store.  I also found round cardboard boxes at the craft store to paint as the pet rock's home.  

 Pet Rocks

Other Activity Ideas
Here are some other activity ideas for a mining or geology based party.  We were going to grow crystals and do a model volcano, but we ran out of time.  I bought all of the kids foam swords at the dollar store.  They played a real life Minecraft with them, pretending to ward of zombies and creepers.  You could have an adult dress up as a creeper by wearing a green sweatsuit and decorating a box to look like a creeper head.  Then, when the kids are playing with their swords the adult creeper could come out and surprise them.  If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment for other people planning a similar party.

3. Goody Bags
Hopefully I can remember everything I put in them.  It's been over three months since his party!  You don't have to go nuts since they are already getting a bunch of treasures from the activities.  I bought simple camo black and gray colored gift bags.  You could easily get more creative here.  In the past I have personalized little canvas bags from the craft store.  I included rock candy, pop rocks and ring pops as a treat. I found mini crystal grow kits at the dollar store.  I also bought them each this mini encyclopedia to help them identify rocks and minerals and a book about Earth.  

4. Food
I think we just ate pizza, but for dessert we had fossil cookies (which only turned out OK, maybe you could have better luck) and E's super favorite chocolate cherry birthday cake decorated with chocolate rock candy, cookie crumbs, and gummy worms to fit the theme.  I did the fossil cookies as directed, but they rose so much while cooking that you couldn't see the imprints anymore, so we imprinted them again after cooking. Chocolate cherry cake my personal favorite that my mom would always make for me for my birthday and now it is requested by both of my kids every year on their birthdays.  It's a very simple recipe using a box cake mix and it tastes amazing.  Click the pictures to see the recipes.

Fossil Cookies

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Here are links to candies for goody bags and cake decoration:

Well, I think that covers everything.  If I remember something else I will edit the post to add it in.  If you host a mining and/or geology themed party I hope your kids enjoy it as much as mine did!  If you blog about it, please link in the comments.  Also please share your ideas for other activities or goodies in the comments!



Erin said...

How fun! My son will love this!
From WA,

jmorrow123 said...

I used some of these excellent ideas today for my daughter's geology party. Thanks for posting!