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When Christopher turned 8 years old, we threw him a jungle birthday party. He was very involved in choosing the theme and the games he wanted to play with his friends. The party took about an hour and a half including time for presents and cake.
I like to have an open-ended art activity going for the guests when they arrive that they can work on while we wait for everyone to get there. For this party I had the kids decorate their paper-plate jungle hats. I bought oval paper plates (they were Chinet platters) and paper bowls. I cut a hole in the platter (just so it would fit on the kids' heads better) and glued a bowl upside down on top. The kids colored with crayons and we used string to tie them on to the kids. You can also have the kids make fun jungle binoculars with cardboard tubes if you happen to have enough saved up. I didn't.
Once everyone had arrived I handed out their jungle bags which they would use to collect items they found along their adventure. These were super easy to make and involved no sewing. I bought brown felt and some cording. First cut the brown felt into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 21 inches long. Cut a piece of cording about 34 inches long. Fold the brown felt about 7 inches up to make a pouch (the top part will hang over the pouch) and hot glue the sides together. While the glue is still hot, stick the cording in between the felt folds so it is attached with the glue.
When Christopher got his bag, he happened to find a treasure map in his!! (I had told him it was in there and he was supposed to pretend to be surprised when he found it). Everyone decided we should follow it to see what we would find.
The first picture on the map showed us traveling through jungle vines. The kids took turns going through the vines and avoiding the balloon snakes my daughter had made (which you can't really see in the pictures). After successfully traversing the vines they received a bag of red vines to put in their brown felt jungle bags.
Next, the kids had to conquer some wild beasts. Christopher had colored some animal faces on paper plates. We strung them up with yarn across our family room. We armed each child with a pvc pipe dart gun and gave them a bag of marshmallows for ammunition (we let the marshmallows sit out for several hours to harden up a bit to make them easier to shoot and less squishy if they got stepped on). They lined up and shot at the targets. There was lots of cheering when they managed to hit a paper plate! Then the grandpas decided they should be wild animals and turned into moving targets. The kids loved that! After they defeated the wild animals, they got a bag of circus animal cookies to put in their jungle bags.
The next item on the map showed the kids crossing piranha river. Unfortunately for the kids the river was flooding! I took a blue bed sheet and folded it over a couple of times. My daughter made some balloon fish to stick in the "water". The kids lined up and all took a turn jumping across. After everyone jumped at the current width we made the river grow wider by unfolding the sheet. If a child touched the water, they were eliminated and sat down. Each time the water grew a bit more. The game was to see who could jump over it when it was really wide, but you could also play without eliminating the kids when they touched the sheet. After this game they got a bag of Swedish fish for their jungle bags.
On the map next was a bunch of Lego bricks. Strange, huh? But as I said, Christopher was heavily involved in planning and really wanted to build with his friends. So, we decided that the kids would come up with their own creations to help them get through the locked door that was blocking our way to the treasure. We got out a bucket of Lego bricks and the kids got to work. We gave them about 10 minutes and then they each got to get up and show people their creation and tell them what it did and how it would help us get to the treasure. The kids were very enthusiastic about this activity and loved showing off their inventions. They received a bag of candy bricks to add to their collection of things found in the jungle.
Lastly, we took our inventions to get into the treasure room. This last game was chosen by Christopher because he thought it was so fun when we did it at Joshua's Minecraft party the year before. We stacked up foam blocks. Some of the blocks had a little picture of gold taped to it. The kids took turns picking off blocks until they found one with the gold picture. Then they got their bag of chocolate gold coins to put in their jungle bags.
The kids got more candy than I usually give out at parties, but I'm sure you could also come up with some non-candy things to represent each adventure if you'd rather not give out so many treats. I tried to make the treat bags small anyway.
We then went into the kitchen for cake and ice cream and presents. I made Christopher's cake 4 layers tall so I could make jungle trees on the side. The trees are made with Rolos for the trunks (glued together with frosting) I also used green Sixlets to help decorate.
The kids all went home with their jungle hats, pvc pipe dart guns, jungle bags filled with treats, and a balloon snake from the vine game. It was a fun party!