A birthday Party: Welcome to the Robot Design Academy

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February is the month of my youngest’s birthday and this year was a big one – he turned 5!  It’s so hard to believe he’ll be in Kindergarten next year.

My little guy is “all boy”, but he does have a lot of little girlfriends. We wanted a theme that would reflect who he is and be entertaining for all ages and genders.  We thought a robot party would be perfect.  It would have a “building” element to keep small hands busy and a playfulness to engage the imagination.  Pinterest and the blogging community were not short on inspiration.

I cannot take credit for the overall theme “Robot Design Academy”.  An invitation on Pinterest had caught my eye that led me to the Me and My Insanity blog.  It had a number of wonderful ideas (I just had to use the theme name and to purchase those Hello Hanna placemats — love them!).  This is just my take on Kendra’s bucket of ideas.

The invitation:

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I love paper. However, for the past few parties, I have been using evites.  I have found that it makes life easier since I am often running short on time now that I am working outside of the home and that parents tend to respond better via email. (I think the idea of hitting the reply button simplifies things and I can send out a reminder closer to the date.)

I love to tool around on Illustrator so I went to work developing my own look and feel for the academy invitation.  The design is a throw back to those 80’s movies with vintage DOS computers (think War Games).  I decided to create a logo for the academy, creating a font  that communicates the robot building fun that’s in store for attendees.  I chose gray as the dominant color to represent metal components of a robot but then added pops of color to invoke a child-like playfulness appropriate for elementary school ages.

The Welcome:

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Each guest was greeted at the door by our “Academy Admissions Bot”.  I made this guy out of flashing and plumbing parts I found at our local hardware stores.  I used gorilla glue and silver Duck Tape to adhere the pieces.

Once through the door, the kids met our “Academy Head Master/Emcee”.  The look on the  faces of the little ones was priceless – wonder and excitement (and, fortunately, no one was at all intimidated). This robot was made from boxes (the body), party tubs and a waste basket (the head), duct work flashing (arms), rubber gloves (hands) and silver wrapping paper. The eyes were made from copper scrubs, the nose from a salsa jar cap, and the mouth from paper and electrical tape.  The body accessories were made with a paper towel tube covered in colored electrical tape, plastic bottle caps covered with colored Duck Tape (buttons), a craft foam sheet and CD and paper (to create the message board).

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The activities:

Robot Invite

While we waited for kids to arrive, we had some individual activities.  I purchased Schylling Stacking Robots and some remote control robots for some pre-academy play.  These turned out to be the perfect time filler and the kids had a blast.

Robot Head Design

Once all the guests had arrived, we invited them to sit at our table and create their very own Robot Head out of a tin can, magnets and hardware (nuts, bolts, grommets, etc.) – think Mr. Potato Head for robots. This idea comes from an old Family Fun magazine craft idea.  The kids were very proud of their creations and were able to take them home at the end of the party to continue creating and changing.

Robot Invite

Following our first “Design Class”, we got the kids moving with a game of Robot (Simon) Says.  My father-in-law was kind enough to don the Robot Head Hat I made using aluminum foil, construction paper and electrical tape.  Then using his best robot voice, he led the kids in an animated game full of giggles and movement.

Robot Invite

The second design center was prepped while the kids played the game.  Since we had covered the heads of a robot, a robot body was next.  This one was my own idea and I love the affordability of this craft.  The kids each received two aluminum chafing dishes (bulk pack purchased at Costco for around $6) and craft supplies to create their personal robot costume.  We had a few learnings – one specific learning: glue dots won’t stick to aluminum for an extended period of time, Scotch tape and rolled up Duck Tape work just fine – but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  We connected the front to the back using duck tape, but ribbon could have easily worked and may have been an easier choice.  Each child looked adorable in the end.

Once all children had been photographed in their outfits, we had a brief Robot Dance Party.  While we cleaned up the table, the kids were invited to watch a robot training video — “Robots” the movie.  We finished up the party with presents, snacks and cake.

The Cake:

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I took the easy route this time. I opted to order the cake from our local grocery bakery and had it frosted using the color blue.  I then added licorice wheels for eyes, marshmallows dipped in colored sugars for the nose, ears & hair, vanilla & chocolate frosting for the mouth & a Tootsie Pop antenna. It wasn’t perfect, but E didn’t seem to mind.

The Goodies:

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In addition to their Robot Heads and costumes, each child walked away with a walking robot pencil sharpener, a robot puppet pencil, a robot eraser and stickers.  Okay, I did go a bit overboard. I admit it.  These were just too cute to pass up.  I found most of this at Tin Toy Arcade.  For anyone who loves vintage toys, this is a great site.

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The party was definitely a hit. We are still playing with our souvenirs from the big day.

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