I just so happen to know a classroom of 2nd Graders, who are about to finish their book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and a teacher who is generous to allow an ol’ gray-headed granny to workout her party animal muscle on an excited group of fun-seeking little readers.
Like most classroom book parties, this one features decorations, games, snacks, and a movie. I did some research here in order to gather ideas, since I have not read this book.
I thought the kids might like dressing up like little penguins (large white t-shirts with long black jackets, and puffy yellow penguin-feet slippers) and then putting on some of the same acts from the book, that Captain Cook, Greta, and their adroable waddling mini-mes did, for their teacher and classmates. I’ll divide the classroom into three groups. They won’t know why until I take the first group outside in the hallway where they’ll put on their costumes and then hear my instructions for putting on a silly show. The first group will come out on stage and do some marching – which may involve the passing off of a penguin egg or baby penguin (stuffed animal), and I’m hoping they will really get into character to make the show entertaining for their audience. That group will then exit the stage, take off their costumes, and take their places back at their desks. The next group will enter the hallway, don their penguin apparrel, take their turn on stage, and have a silly boxing match with oversize boxing gloves and some silly fancy footwork. Finally, the last group will take the stage, climb up on bean bags and slide back down, to the whoots and cheers of their adoring classmates.
I’ll put up a map of the United States on one of the classroom walls, and during the movie, pause to let the kids move penguin stickers across all the places where the penguins put on their shows.
The kids will get to watch the movie and at the same time nibble on some fun snacks, which I’ll serve on penguin paper plates, with penguin paper cups and napkins.
Penguin Rice Crispy Treats
— OR — a more healthy alternative…
Penguin Banana Snacks
Snowcones in a cup – our little school happens to have a snowcone machine – hurray!!!!
You have to try this Sonic Ocean Water Recipe. Make your favorite Sonic Ocean water at home.
3 tbsp Water
3 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Coconut Extract
4 drops Blue Food Coloring
24 oz Sprite ((can be 3 cans or from a 2-liter that you can get for cheap))
Soooooo, now you know my plans. I’ll head back to this post in a few weeks and add pictures, just as soon as my little munchkin-hearts get to have their epic-antarctic party!!!! I’m so looking forward to it. ❤
Make a trench/moat in front of the classroom door using a blue bedsheet for the water.
Make a drawbridge to lay over the moat, using a long piece of cardboard with wood-board-patterned bulletin board paper glued to it. Attach paper chains, (or, I found plastic chains at Goodwill when they had all their Halloween stuff out) to each side of the drawbridge and string them up to the door frame.
Make a stone frame around the door using gray construction paper, and mount homemade torches on either side (left and right), made out of paper sacks, twisted into a cone shape, with red and orange tissue paper tucked inside to look like flames. (I used Dixie cups, spray painted to look like iron, cut out the bottoms, pinned them with thumb tacks to the door frames, and set my torches inside of them).
Hang an iron-looking portcullis from the top of the doorway, made of strips of cardboard, held together with brass fasteners/brads, and then spray painted to look like rusted iron.
Make a beautiful sign that says, “Camelot ” to hang above the door
Arrange the student’s desks into a big circle – round table, and place a small, homemade sword on the center of each desk. Make the swords out of long, wide popsicle sticks, with hilts made of smaller popsicle sticks, glued together and spray painted, then decorated with old buttons or jewels.
Make a king’s crown, queen’s crown, maiden’s head covering, lady-in-waiting head covering, magician hat, friar robe with hood and cross necklace, and some knights helmets (lots of ideas for these on Pinterest).
Set up a buffet table with simple foods: Bacon/ham/sausage, fruits (grapes, pears, apples, berries), whole raw veggies (carrots, parsnips, cabbage, sugar snap or snow peas) or a veggie pottage – like mushy peas (remember the old song: Peas Porridge hot, Peas Porridge cold, Peas Porridge in the pot nine days old?), hard cooked eggs, cheeses, various small rustic-type breads (wheat, barley, rye, with seads, etc.), homemade butter (see CRAFTS below), oatmeal porridge, and humble pie (which in reality was animal guts pie, but ours will be mincemeat).
Served on pewter plates or large pieces of flat bread (Naan).
Make a table decoration out of a small pig (toy or stuffed animal) with an apple wedged in its mouth, skewered, and roasting over a spit of fake charcoals
(Food photos from UCA Medieval Feast 2021)
BEVERAGES: ginger ale and root beer, served in golden goblets (grails)
Set up a gauntlet on the playground: First a Balance Beam, then walking on stilts (bed risers with attached ropes), followed by hurdles over alligators, then walking on a teeder-todder beam end to end, followed by having to jump high up to grab a flag, then shooting an arrow (or tossing bean bags) at targets, after that crawling through a large box with crape paper taped all over inside of it like a spider web, then walk on a balance beam again while avoiding swinging balls of various sizes, after that a leap over dragon stuffed animal, and finally pulling Excaliber from a stone
Divide the kids into small groups of 5 or 6 and give each group a different game to play. After 20 to 30 minutes switch the games to another group.
KINGS in the CORNER (2-6 players, ages 7 and up)
FIVE CROWNS (2-7 players, ages 8 and up)
Castle Panic by Fireside Games (1-6 players, kids 7 & Up)
Kingdomino Award Winning Family Strategy Board Game by Blue Orange Games (2-4 players, ages 8 and up)
Queendomino Strategy Board Game (2 to 4 players, orup to 8 players when the game is combined with Kingdomino)
3 six-sided dice are rolled: 10 and above wins double the stake, below loses the stake; after each roll the bank passes to the next player.
Probably one of the most, if not the most, ancient dice game in history. Passe-dix was allegedly specified by Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 27:35) as the game the Roman guards played under the site of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
Passe-dix is played with three dice. There’s always a banker, and the number of players is unlimited. The first gamer rolls: every time he throws UNDER ten he (and all the other players in the game) lose the specified stake, which goes to the banker. Every time he rolls ABOVE ten (or PASSES TEN–whence the name of the game), the banker must return double the stake to all the players in the game. After three losses of the roller (no matter how many wins), the roller position is passed to another gamer in the circle. The banker changes after each roll.
E.g. if there are four people in the game (remember one is the Banker, and one is rolling for everyone else) and the stake is 1 penny, then a loss will result in the banker taking 1 penny from each other player, but a win will involve the banker giving 2 pennies to each player.
❤ Pendragon, Sword of His Father | Burns Family Studios (2008) Rated G. This is a Christian, Dove Award movie set in Brittain’s dark ages with a wonderful message of faith, courage, and vision. This was my first pick for our classroom party!
❤ The Kid Who Would Be King | PG (2019) ‧ Fantasy/Action ‧ 2 hours. I liked this movie. I thought it had a thoughtful plot, great acting, and wonderful cinematography, that took from the story of King Arthur/Merlin and made it a modern message that I think kids today could really relate to. This was my second pick for the classroom party.
Walt Disney’s The Sword and the Stone (animated). This movie is a little too childish for upper elementary, in my opinion.
Merlin (1998) PG-13 | 182 min | Action, Adventure, Drama. This would be a fantastic film for upper elementary aged kids, except for a couple unfortuate scenes, which make it unrecommendable. It is a 2-disc movie that first tells the story of Merlin (disc one), and then the story of Arthur and Merlin (disc two). Reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies, sort of, in the type of movie that it is. This is the parent’s guide
First Knight (1998) PG-13 (for some brutal medieval battles). This again would be a wonderful film for upper elementary, if not for a few unfortunate scenes. Parent’s Guide
King Arthur (2004) the PG-13 version – NOT the Director’s Cut! Rated for intense battle sequences, a scene of sensuality and some language. This movie was alright, I guess, but I personally wasn’t a fan of the sort of manly, feminist portrayal of lady Guinevere. All the Merlin magic was absent. Reminiscent of the movie Troy in the type of movie that it is. This is the parent’s guide
Free MUSIC: (to be played while the kids eat or do crafts, if desired, reminiscent of a Renaissance Fair)
Make Butter from Heavy Whipping Cream: Fill 2 or 3 pint-sized glass jars about half way with the heavy cream. Screw the lids on tight. Have the kids take turns shaking the jars vigorously, and passing to another kid when their arms get tired, until the heavy cream separates into butter and buttermilk. Use the butter to spread on their bread. The kids can drink the buttermilk if they want, or it can be saved to make cornbread or pancakes.
Make Catapults (either using the Boy Craft Catapult Wars boxed game, or let the kids make catapults using popsicle sticks and rubber bands, erasers as ammunition, and disposable cups as targets) and have shooting duels
Create individual Coat-of-Arms using cardstock, crayons, markers, stickers, stamps, stencils, etc. These can then be transferred to clothing or made into flags using iron-on transfer kits and an iron.
Party Planner’s notes: I always tell myself, “This time I’m going to keep it simple,” but am rarely successful in accomplishing that. My imagination swirls and swoons with so many dozens of ideas and I don’t want to give anything up. I want to do it all, and cram as much as possible into a small block of time. It’s not until I’m in the middle of my ambitious plans that I realize IT’S TOO MUCH!!!! Hopefully you’re looking for ideas for a child’s birthday party, or a homeschool unit study activity, or family reunion, or something else where you can make good use of all of this stuff. Our party however will probably consist of making butter, filling plates with snacks, grabbing a beverage, watching a movie, and if we’re extra fortuitous, perhaps a game of Passe Dix or catapult wars, before the teacher wants her classroom back for educational discussion.
It’s with a heavy heart that I confess I was unable to throw this party, what with our world being in the early throes of the #CoronaVirus pandemic, which turned everything upside down, forced the shut down of schools, caused the grocery store shelves to be barren, and took a terrible toll on the health and well being of our economy and our most vulnerable citizens as well. So much uncertainty, which was not unlike the medieval dark ages themselves, where raiding Saxons and Anglos robbed the Brittons of their gardens, farm animals, livelihoods, safe homes, and personal freedoms. Terrible plagues and famine ravaged towns and villages. It almost seems apropos to be studying the middle ages in such times as this. Perhaps remembering this part of history will help us not to have to repeat it? I pray that evil will not prosper, that we will take cleanliness much more seriously, that we will be brave to stand up to antiheroes and bullying, controling governments, and be kind and generous with our family, friends, and neighbors when it is within our power to do so. It seems good to remember the value of a brave and virtuous leader, like King Arthur, the honor, chivalry, and loyalty of his knights, their courtesy, justice, and readiness to help the weak. I pray for my countrymen and this beautiful planet, that our stressful time passes quickly, without causing too much distruction to our economy and our lives, and though our weeping might last for a night, that there would be joy in the morning as we see the mighty hand of God who got us through it.
2020 UPDATE: So, the kids did not come back to school after spring break, March 2020, but unlike many schools they did resume in the fall of 2020. My grand daughter had moved on to the next grade by then and I was diagnosed with cancer, so I call it my “lost” year. BUT, in the fall of September, 2021 I got to use my decorations, which I had feared would go to total waste, for a Medieval Feast for the high school kids. The teachers decorated a room and set it up with a feast, and all the students dressed the part, ate and drank, and played all the games that were set up for them. And the 4th grade teacher asked if I would do a Medieval party for her class for the last day of school. So, yay. The decorations won’t go to waste.
The 4th graders read Robin Hood instead of King Arthur, so after Spring Break I got to throw a Robin Hood party for them. I didn’t get to use my Camelot decorations. Instead, I used scene-setters (large canvas backdrops of forest scenes) to and make a maze at the entrance of the classroom – a secret passageway into Sherwood Forest. I thought it would be fun to blindfold the kids and lead them into the classroom for the first time, to make sure they could be trusted. We had deer jerky and garden items to snack on (veggies and berries), (root)BEER and (ginger)ALE to drink, and then I made them each pay a fee for their meal, which they paid me in pencils! Lol. And then the kids played Kingdomino in two groups for the next hour or so. No movie. No robbing passing students in the hall, or getting into sword fights with the sheriff’s men, who might have come sniffing around, although that would have been fun to arrange had I thought of it ahead of time. The dollar store had nerf-type swords which would have been perfect. I could have placed them in a bucket for the kids to grab if such an occasion arose. At any rate, we had fun.
2022 UPDATE: The school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX ended the school year 2 days early for the whole district – which was definitely appropriate! I am so thankful my children weren’t in harms way, and my heart is broken and grieving for the parents and families that suffered loss. So the last day party was canceled and the decorations will just have to keep
2022 fall update… my granddaughter’s world studies class is studying the Renaissance! I get to use the decorations for her class party. Woo-hoo! And in a couple years they will hopefully get used for the other grandchild. Perhaps in the meantime I will donate them to 4th grade. BTW. I’m creating an Escape Room for our Renaissance party. If it turns out I’ll certainly blog about it!
May our LORD hedge us in with His protection, cover us with His glory cloud, and lead us through these chaotic times with His pillar of fire. May He help us not to be afraid, and comfort us in our sadness. May He suit us up with His Spiritual Armor and give us courage and faith. May He forgive our trespasses and clothe us in His white robes of righteousness. May God pour out His Spirit into our hearts until our cups and lanterns are overflowing, and May He cast out fear as we walk with Him through every storm. May we have spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear, for our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. May we find safety and shelter in the wings of our God. And may we be ready and watching for Him when He comes to snatch us away. May He bless us and keep us forever. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray. Praise be to God! Amen.
I’m a little late posting this for THIS year, or maybe I’m just waaaay early for next year? Ha. But, here are some ways I thought would be nice to celebrate Grandparent’s Day. But, in all honesty, please don’t save them up for that one special day a year. If you have grandparents living close, do some of these with them as soon and as often as you can. Time passes so quickly. Memories fade. The breath of life evaporates before we know it. Don’t let it get away from you. Our elders are a special treasure!
“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” – Psalms 71:9
If your family doesn’t already have one, let the kids start a family pedigree chart with their grandparent. Let them do as much of the investigative work as they can to fill it in. First let them fill in their name in the center bottom space, and then just above it let them fill in the names of their dad and mom. Above those spaces are spaces for grandparents on the paternal and maternal sides. Spend a day or at least an afternoon with grandparents collecting information: names, birthplaces, careers, military, where family died and are buried. Ask for obituaries, photographs, family Bible notes, newspaper clippings and stories. It’s actually a lot of fun seeing where your family came from, not just ethnicity, but travels, both foreign and domestic. It’s also a great way to learn history. It means so much more and is so much more interesting when you find out you had actual family living in those times and places and events.
If you would like the electronic file for this chart so that you can print one for your personal use, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and write “Pedigree Poster” in the subject line.
This is a Pedigree chart I created as a Christmas gift to my family last year. I took the digital file of the pedigree chart above to my local print shop (also Staples, Copy Max, Walgreens, and even Walmart can print them) and had it printed on poster-size paper. I printed mine in color on plain paper, but they can also be printed on photo paper, and then framed in poster size frames.
“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” – Proverbs 17:6
Beside the pedigree poster hanging on my wall I have a decorative tree with photos of hubby & me, our parents, and our grandparents, three generations.
On one of our visits to my husband’s folks’ house, we were blessed to have his uncle stop by for a visit. He was in town to speak at a local high school about his experiences as a soldier in WWII (Europe). He was often asked to speak at schools about his personal experiences, because he was such a gifted story-teller. He wrote a book as well, which we treasure having a copy of. We of course were very interested to hear his stories and so asked if he would share some with us, which he happily did. We all sat around in the living room listening intently as he told of being on the boat and being soooo sea sick and all the other men being soooo very sea sick also, and then being dropped on the battlefield, and of his experiences as a Forward Observer, which was very dangerous. I could kick myself a thousand times that we didn’t get video of that visit (which is why I make the suggestion to you now). It is just so moving to hear a personal relative tell of historical events from their own personal experience, and see their facial expressions, and watch their body language. It is just so much more captivating than a book in history class. So I encourage you, if you have a grandparent, ask them to tell you a story about some important time in their life and video tape it.
“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:32
Something our family DOES have, and I can tell you is an enormous treasure, is a compilation of my husband’s folks old home movies that they took on an old 8mm recorder. They had the movies transferred to VHS when that was the most modern thing, and gave us a copy. But as hubby and I were watching these silent movies, we realized that much of those people and places were unknown to us. So the next time his parents visited us we asked them to sit down and watch it with us and tell us where all those places were and who the people are. I set up a cassette recorder to record their narration. Many years later I took the old silent VHS and the narration on the cassettes and put them together on DVD. Then I made several copies and gave them as Christmas gifts for our family. It was the very next Christmas after grandpa had died and you can’t image what a treasure it was to the whole family to get to hear grandpa’s voice again, and laugh at his sense of humor, especially since the family had no idea we’d ever gotten that sound tract.
Also, if you have been to a funeral recently, most funeral homes ask the family to bring them old photos for a video slide show, set to music, to play during the service. Why wait until a person dies for this? Ask your grandparents now if you can borrow their old photographs, and then scan them into digital form and make a slide show of their lives from birth to old age. You can add captions to the photos that say where the photos were taken and who the people are, and you can also add a favorite song or songs of theirs to go along with it. Most computers have the software for making photo slide show DVD’s on them. I used Movie Maker to make DVD’s of our family vacations, weddings, and a memorial of our dad. It would be a nice trip down memory lane for them to get to see their lives laid out in such a way, and a special thing to share with them while they are living.
“And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – Ruth 4:15
Old Letters and Great Books
My husband’s dad served in Korea, and wrote letters home to his parents a couple times a week. We found the letters a while back, along with a bunch of pictures he took while in boot camp and on the front lines. We also were fortunate to get to inherit his army coat, a hat, and medals, maps, and various other personal objects from the war, along with the flag that was presented to the family at his funeral, and the bullet casings from the 21 gun salute. Altogether the letters and photos, and photos of the objects made a wonderful book that is and shall forever be a cherished keepsake for generations.
I also collected all our family history, stories, pedigrees, photos, birth, marriage, and death certificates, newspaper clippings, obituaries, maps, military histories and pension papers, pioneer stories, censuses, etc. and made it all into a book (first a ring binder, and then a printed, spiral bound book with a hard cover) to share with my sisters. I made scrapbook pages of the old photos and scanned those pages, and made separate chapters for each person, telling each person’s individual stories. I visited courthouses, libraries, and museums in the towns where they lived (the ones that were closeby) and collected as much information as I could about them and the history of those areas (marriage, divorce, land records, court records, if they played on baseball teams, delivered mail, or worked in local factories, or acted, sang, or danced in theatre, etc.). I visited cemetaries and churches and found headstones and church records. I visited newspaper offices and got old newspaper stories and obituaries. I will confess, it is a lot of work, but truly it is fun and rewarding work, and I sooooo encourage you to gather as much of this kind of information as you can from living relatives, while you can. Honor your parents and your grandparents by preserving their legacy in words and pictures. They will be delighted and honored to see all your efforts as well.
“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” – Proverbs 20:29
What is your favorite thing that grandma makes? Why not make a date to make it with her, and for heaven sakes get her recipe! Get ALL her recipes, and make them into a cookbook. My husband’s family actually collected recipes from everyone in the family one year and made a family cookbook for all of us. We all contributed, and we all paid for our own copies of the book, and it is very much a prized possession of mine to this day. Each person that contributed recipes also told a story to go with it, like if it was the first meal they made for their husband, or if it was their mother’s favorite thing that they made, etc.
I have myself very fond memories of having picnics with my grandmother. She always made her standard cucumber sandwiches, hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and a thermos of iced tea. When’s the last time you went on a picnic with your grandma? Or soaked your feet in a tub of hose water in the back yard? …And listened to her tell stories about a time she got in trouble as a kid. …Or what it was like as a teenager going to school. …Or her first boyfriend, or first date. …Or what she and her brothers/sisters did for fun.
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” – Psalms 71:18
Play a Game
My husband has fond memories of playing Yatzee with his grandmother. It was her favorite game to play, and if he could beat her he felt like it was a real accomplishment. Grandma was apparently very good at Yatzee. My grandma liked to play cards, and her game of choice to play with us kids was Rummy. She also showed us how to play Solitaire and let us play at the table while she cooked and baked. I also remember making card houses in the living room, using the carpet to help hold the cards in place. My sisters and I made elaborate card houses, some more fragile than others. Does your grandma or grandpa have a favorite game they like to play. Ask if you can come play it with them one afternoon. Or, take them to play Bingo, or Pinochle or Bridge at the Senior Center, dominoes, Cribbage, or take them bowling, or to play miniature golf, or darts. You might find out they’re pretty darn good at it.
“With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
– Job 12:12
Go for a walk
Do some gardening (plant an herb garden in pots)
Go to church with them
Visit them and read them letters that they’ve gotten in the mail
Take grandma to get her hair and nails done
Take them to their doctor visits
Take them to the store to do their shopping, or run a few errands
Take them to a veterans memorial (if there is one with a spouse or loved one memorialized there)
Take them to a cemetery to put flowers on someone’s grave (for a loved one’s birthday rememberance, or veterans/memorial day)
Take them to a class reunion, or a small town annual get-together
Take them for a drive in the country
Play old records
Watch an old movie
Take them out for lunch
Invite them to your house for coffee (and devotions)
Take them to visit an old friend they haven’t seen in a while
Take them out for ice cream
Sit on a park bench and feed the birds, or the ducks (pond)
Take them for a boat ride (a little row boat across a pond or lake) and bring an umbrella for shade
Take them to a grandchild’s school event, or track meet, or soccer game
Take them to a rodeo, a fair, a car or horse race, or baseball game
Take them to lookout point after dark to look at the city lights
Ask them to teach you how to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, or tie a fly (fishing), etc.
Take them to the shooting range for some target practice
Rent a golf cart and take a drive through a scenic golf course
Take them for a drive to new parts of the city
Take them something you’ve baked or made and visit for an afternoon
Take a pizza and cokes and sit on the porch and eat it with them
Do something for them that is too hard for them to do themselves, but needs done, like vacuum, trim a tree, re-attach a rain gutter, paint, mow, move a hose, shovel a sidewalk, take mail out to the mailbox, light a pilot light, replace a lightbulb, put a heavy dish back up in the cupboard, put laundry away, etc.
Call and check on them at least once a week
Always tell them you love them, as often as you can
Send them cards and letters, with pictures
Pray with them and for them, for their health needs, and other needs
“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”