Down on the Farm Party

Kids love farm animals; this party features pigs, plants, and more for ages 2 to 7.


Inviting Ideas

Whether you buy or make invitations, it's easy to incorporate farm-related images:

A barn-shaped invitation is easy to create.
  • Anything with pictures of baby farm animals will be appropriate. Look for spring-themed stickers or stationery with baby chicks and so forth. If it's the wrong season, ask your stationery store if they have such material in storage.
  • Red barn: Use a white pen to draw a barn-door "X" on the front of a folded sheet of red paper, then write the party details inside.
  • Hay: Cut up small, narrow strips of yellow paper or even include real hay in the envelope with your invitations.
  • Write the party details on sturdy card stock (like an unlined index card) and wrap it in a bandanna. Tie with jute or brown string. Or, buy a length of bananna-print fabric at a sewing store; cut fabric into small squares and glue onto the back of the card stock.
Decorations
Check party stores and Web sites for theme-related tabletop decorations.
  • Fill little red wagons with hay. You might even get a few parents to pull children around in "hay rides."
  • Ask children to come in jeans or overalls. Tie on red bandannas as they arrive.
  • Make a pretend fence with cardboard "planks," scissors, a marker, and packing tape.
  • Put toy tractors and farm animals on the table.
  • If your party is in late summer or fall, decorate with cornstalks or wheat bales.
  • Set up a pretend milking station using a saw horse, surgeon's rubber gloves, a milking stool, water and a bucket. Fill the glove with water and tie off the end. Hang underneath the saw horse (which you could paint white with black spots). During the party, you could prick the tip of the "udders" with a pin and let children squirt water into the bucket.
  • Make individual animal headbands using wide construction paper strips. You may need to staple two lengths together, as one length is not long enough to fit around a child's head. Cut out different colored ears, combs (roosters), manes (horse or donkeys), cotton balls (sheep), etc. to paste to headbands.

From the bhg.com Recipe Center, we've pulled together four kid-friendly menus that can be served at any birthday bash:

All-Munchies Menu

Classics with a Twist Menu

Hearty Bites Menu

Ultimate Favorites Menu

Farm Food

For delicious food that ties into the party theme, try these suggestions:

  • Pigs in a blanket: hot dogs baked in crescent dough
  • Straw: French fries or canned potato sticks
  • Brown cow: chocolate milk drinks
  • Individual mud puddles: made with brownies cut into circles and topped with hot fudge "mud." If you want to go all out, you could add marzipan pigs, which you can find at specialty and gourmet stores.
  • Have a "pig-out contest" with gelatin. Children must hold their hands behind their backs and eat cubes of gelatin piggy-style from "trough" bowls. This activity might require paper napkin bibs!
  • Make a piggy cake using pink frosting, 1-1/2 Snowballs (round pink snack cakes). Arrange the snack cakes to form the pig's head and body, and add features like eyes and a squiggly tail with a tube of decorative icing.

Choose two or three relatively calm activities for a two-hour party. Have a few extra ideas ready just in case. Alternate crafts and other sit-down activities with active games to keep the pace of the party moving.

Transitional Activity

Reading is great between activities such as a game and cake time. It can be used to keep children occupied while a parent sets out the tableware and cake. Also, reading can be effective at the end of the party, when children are waiting for their parents to arrive. Some suggestions:

  • Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens (Harcourt Brace, 1995)
  • Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Viking Press, 1987)
  • The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philemon Sturges (Dutton, 1999)
  • Two Cool Cows by Toby Speed (Putnam, 1997)
  • Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)
Craft Projects

Having a craft activity set up as guests arrive is a good way to corral the excitement in a positive way, since each person can start working immediately.

Making Piggy Noses

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

Make pig noses, then have a Snorting Contest! (See below.)
  • Egg carton cups
  • Scissors
  • Skewer and hole punch
  • Brown or black permanent or washable marker
  • Pink water-based paint such as tempera paint
  • Small paint brushes (one per child)
  • 12-inch length of thin elastic string for each child

Before the party:

1. Collect paper egg cartons and cut off each egg cup. These will become pig snouts. Using skewer, punch two small holes in the center of the bottom of each cup to be the nostrils.

2. With skewer or hole punch, make a hole on each side of each cup for attaching the elastic. Cut lengths of elastic before the party, but wait to attach it until after children have painted the cups.

At the party:

3. Lay newspaper or other protective cover over the work surface.

4. Have each child paint the outside of a pig snout pink. Let snouts dry (at least 20 minutes).

5. Outline the nostrils using the dark marker.

6. Tie elastic to sides of snouts. Slip elastic over child's head and fit snout over nose. Be sure to have a mirror handy so your piggies can see themselves!

Snorting Contest

This silly, simple activity will get the attention of kids of all ages.

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 4

1. Each child takes a turn standing in front of the group, making their best pig snort.

2. Appoint a panel of judges to award prizes for best snort, longest, shortest, loudest, quietest, most obnoxious, silliest, least like a pig, and so on until everyone wins and has a good laugh.

Sowing Seeds

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • Paper cups or peat pots
  • Plastic spoons
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds -- impatiens or sunflowers work well, as they grow in a relatively short time
  • Small watering can filled with water

Before the party:

1. Gather materials and organize them as outlined below. Make copies of plant germination information, such as:

Impatiens germinate in 15 to 20 days. Germination temperature is 70 to 75 degrees F. Sow at surface. Need light to germinate. Sunflowers germinate in 10 to 14 days. Germination temperature is 70 to 85 degrees F. Sow 1/4 inch deep. Need light to germinate.

At the party:

2. Give each farmer a few seeds, a paper cup or a peat pot, and a spoon. Set a few larger containers of potting soil on the table.

3. Have children spoon soil into the cup until 3/4 full. Gently push a few seeds a tiny way into the soil, no more than 1/4 inch deep.

4. Have each child sprinkle their cup with water.

5. Give each child a note to take home, describing when the plants will germinate and how to care for them.

Pinatas are available in shapes to match practically any party theme.

Plan two or three lively activities for a two-hour party. Choose extra so you're prepared for the unexpected. Alternate them with quieter activities, such as a crafts project or reading aloud, to keep the party from becoming too wild.

You can fill a pinata yourself with candy, small prizes, coins, or whatever you'd like. At most parties, plan to blindfold kids before letting them take a swing; preschoolers, however, might need to see the target.

Stuck in the Barn

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 4

What you need:

  • Large cardboard box (such as from an appliance store)
  • Red paint
  • White tape or paint
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Music and player
  • Prize
Turn a box into a barn with red and white paint or paper.

Before the party:

1. Turn the box into a barn. Use a knife or scissors to round the flaps on the longer sides of the box. Fold the shorter flaps in at an angle to support the longer flaps. Cut a large rectangular door on the front and back (big enough for children to crawl through). Paint the outside of the box red. Use white paint or white tape to mask around the door and to decorate the barn.

At the party:

2. Put a helper in charge of the music. Line the children up one behind the other in front of the barn.

3. When the music starts, the first child crawls through the opening and out the other side. The next child in line follows. This continues until the music is stopped. The child who is in the barn when the music stops is caught, and out of the game. If desired, give each person who is caught a small consolation prize, such as a sticker.

4. Stop and start the music periodically until all the children except one have been "stuck in the barn." The one remaining is the winner.

Piggies in Mud

This is a simpler version of "Stuck in the Barn."

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 3

What you need:

  • About 1 yard of brown butcher paper or equivalent amount of brown paper bags; or chalk or tape
  • Country music and player

1. Lay the paper on grass, tape it to carpeting, or mark off an area with tape or chalk. This is the "mud." It should be about 2 feet by 3 feet (big enough for a child to fit onto).

2. One at a time, the children must cross the mud while you play music. When you stop the music, the piggies that are "stuck in the mud" are out. The last one to escape being stuck is the winner.

Animal Round Up

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 2

What you need:

  • Hay
  • Small plastic farm animals
  • Quart-size berry baskets or other containers as desired (optional)
  • Tarp or old sheet (optional, if playing indoors)

Before the party:

1. Pile the hay loosely. Hide plastic farm animals in the hay. If you decorated with a hay-filled little red wagon, you could put the animals in that hay. For an indoor party, put the hay in an area without carpeting (so you can easily sweep up afterward) or put an old sheet on the floor before you make your haystack.

At the party:

2. Tell the children that the farm animals have gotten lost in the hay and it's their job to find them. Give each "farmer" a container, if you wish, for corralling the animals they find.

3. The game continues until all the animals are found or the players get tired of romping in the hay.

Herd the Cattle

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 3

What you need:

  • Brown or white balloons
  • Black permanent marker
  • Old newspaper or clean flyswatters
  • Prizes (optional)

Before the party:

1. Inflate a balloon for each child. Use black marker to draw blotches on each balloon to make them resemble a cow hide. Be sure to make several spares in case a few pop.

2. Mark start and finish lines. If inside, masking tape works well.

At the party:

3. Hand each child a balloon and several pages of folded newspaper. When you give the signal to start, each child uses the newspaper as a swatter to bat their "cow" down the course to the finish line. The first child to bat his or her cow across the line is the winner.

4. Play several rounds, or add a twist by making the children sit and pop the balloons when they cross the line.

5. If you give prizes, hand them out to the winner of each round and to the overall winner of the most races.

6. This game can be adapted to be a two-team relay race.

Gathering Eggs

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: None

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 4

What you need:

  • Raw eggs
  • Plastic spoons
  • Prizes (optional)
  • Lots of paper towels or wet wipes to wash up with after the game

1. Mark two lines a few yards apart in the grass.

2. Divide children into two teams. Members of each team line up one behind the other at the starting line. The first child on each team places a raw egg on a spoon.

3. The first two children walk or run to the goal line, touching only the handle of the spoon. Then they must turn around and walk or run back to their team and give their spoon to the next player in the line. If an egg drops, the child must stop and pick it up. If the egg breaks, supply a new one.

4. When the last member of one team crosses the finish line with an unbroken egg, that team wins.


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