In all my birthday party planning, this is the first time I really rocked it! Bwhaa-ha-ha-haaa. Okay, I'll stop. But really, I've never created such a master plan. It was a ton of fun and the kids were talking about it long after the party was over.
In the gathering of items, I ordered enough sharpies to last a lifetime, small canvas bags that will double as an activity and goody bags, and magnifying glasses to examine their rocks - handed out as the kids were leaving.
The Plan: 2 hours, 12 boys, lots of noise.
(Every 15 minutes plan to change activities...or shorter in some cases.)
1 - Play ROCK, paper, scissors
2 - Play dough and exploding volcano
3 - Learn about rocks
4 - Decorate Bags
5 - Play Rock, Rock, Crystal
6 - Eat lava cake and ice cream
7 - Open presents
8 - Rock dig
9 - Break geodes
10 - Natural history video/show
Now for the extended directions for your very own geology party. As an additional note, there's some awesome party ideas out there. We picked from several different places and came up with this particular party. I would definitely recommend the E-book for birthday parties from Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils for Kids. It's the same place we ordered the rocks and geodes from as well.
1st - When the kids arrived, they had to play ROCK, paper, scissors until everyone was here. We played tournament style. Perfect and catches their attention while waiting.
2nd - Play dough exploding volcano. I made my own play dough for the party; it was easy and I didn't feel as bad about having it be destroyed post play. I tripled the batch from The Prepared Pantry's recipe, didn't add dye, and it worked great. Each kid got their own ball to shape and mold to the perfect mini volcano.
After they played for a while, we combined all the individual dough pieces together in a shallow tub and formed a large volcano. With a large box of baking soda and a large bottle of vinegar, we had a fabulous volcano show. We could have used some food coloring, it might have looked even cooler.
3rd - Talk about rocks. I had posters up and in between transitions we had the boys go to the posters (like this one and two), learn something, and then come sit back at the table to talk about it. This was noisy and fun. You'll have to be good at directing their energy about learning.
4th - Decorating bags. For goody prizes, the kids took home rocks and a magnifying glass. So decorating these bags with sharpies was a great activity and made the goody bags mean more to each of the kids. I cut pieces of cardboard (AKA cereal boxes) to a size that would slip into the bag. You'll want to do this so the sharpies don't bleed through to the other side...or on your table. I laid paper underneath just to be safe.
5th - Play rock, rock, crystal. This is simply duck, duck, goose with different names. It was nice outside, so Tyler took the kids in the backyard while I cleaned up the bags and prepared for the dessert. It was a perfect "active" activity to break up what we'd been doing.
6th - Lava cakes. When I asked the birthday boy what he wanted to have for a cake, we looked at several options. First, we were going to make a cake that looked like a volcano, something like this. But then we opted for individual volcanoes for everyone. Looking at the blog Wants & Wishes we found this tutorial for some cakes. I looked around for a pan with cone cups, but being short on time and figuring it would taste just as well, we opted to use a regular muffin pan. I do think the more cone shaped pan would have been cooler, but this worked great. (If you want a cone pan I like this one and two).
As for the cakes. Holy cow! They were a m a z i n g. I used this recipe on allrecipes for them. I love the idea of the centers being made separately, not just depending on a soggy cake middle (although I know know it tastes good too). If it helps, I made the center filling the night before and stuck it in the fridge (as per a commenter). It worked, but actually next time I'll just do it the prescribed way in the recipe. It was a little easier to deal with the centers when they weren't totally cold. Again, these cakes are pretty amazing. You'll want to save a couple for yourself.
Using candy melts, we had three different colors of lava to decorate the cakes. I melted each candy color and then put them on individually, draping them using a spoon. When the cakes were ready, we served them with some ice cream.
6th - Present opening time...
7th - Rock Dig. I had 2 large buckets already on hand and bought 3 bags of sand from Home Depot, dividing them between the 2 buckets. We had put 3 lbs of rough rock mix and 3 lbs of tumbled rocks in the buckets for the kids to dig for. We told them everyone got 10 rocks each. We could have upped that to 12 and been fine. (There were the 12 boys plus 2 sisters digging together).
8th - Cracking open geodes. Each guest got one geode to crack open. We didn't have the typical geode cracking tool, but a hammer worked well. Tyler ended up cracking them open for the kids, then the child gathered the pieces and put them in their goody bags. It was a fun activity and I'm glad we got them. Some of the geodes were hollow with cool crystals, some different colors. Other geodes weren't hollow, but still had a smooth crystal interior.
9th - Natural history video/show. So this part wasn't planned, but after the rock dig and breaking geodes, we still had 10 minutes before parents were due to arrive. With our amazon prime account we had recently watched a show about volcanoes and dinosaurs that worked perfect with our theme. The kids came inside and settled down to watch it...all very enthralled. It was actually perfect to have the parents come and the kids leave smoothly one at a time, without chaos and lots of noise. I will totally plan on this for future parties. The kids went out the door with their goody bags full of rocks and were given a magnifying glass to examine them.
This party was a blast! As adults, it was fun to plan and execute, the kids were really into it and it was fun to watch them. I hope you have our own successful geology party!