In January in Boise, Idaho, my son’s Star Wars birthday party was destined to be indoors. With up to 12 energetic 4-6 year old boys and girls bouncing about in our small house, I needed a way to control their movements somehow. The idea of a Jedi Council area served perfectly! We played our games and came back to the council “seats” (black or gold felt square) after each one.
I made invitations out of black cardstock, following Robert Sabuda’s directions for C3PO pop up cards. I printed the C3PO pieces on golden cardstock. Text boxes inside read (in free, downloaded StarVader font): “Calling all Jedi! Young Master (name) requests your presence for an urgent matter-- promoting peace and conquering evil in the Star Wars galaxy-- in celebration of his 4th Birthday!
Your Assistance would be greatly appreciated on (date). Transport to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, will be departing promptly on 10:30 from the (Last Name) System, Docking Bay (address). Please advise the Jedi Council at (phone number) whether you will be able to accept the challenge. May the force be with you!”
GAMES & FAVORS
Our party’s story went like this…. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Jedi Master called all his friends to come help restore peace and tranquility to the universe in honor of his 4th birthday. As the Jedi arrived, their first task was to battle Hoth monsters (white monster grabbers on clearance from Oriental Trading). Much mayhem ensued as the monsters and kids raced around our living room!
When everyone had arrived, they took their places at the Jedi council for further instruction. Everyone was given a bag to hold their goodies and we talked about who our favorite Jedi were. Everyone was given a light saber key chain and a few laminated photos of favorite Jedi. (I scoured the web for photos of Star Wars characters, cropped and shrank them to 1”x1.75”, labeled the backs, laminated them, and punched holes in the upper left corners.)
The second Jedi task was to find droid detonators that had been hidden in the house (star-shaped light up bouncy balls in large Easter eggs spray painted in gold). The kids shook the golden casings to guess what was inside. They split into gold or black teams to fight droid armies… they rolled the detonators (bouncing glow star balls) towards the droids (cut out from cardboard and sprayed gold). This activity took place in a narrow hallway blocked off by a door, so the bouncing was contained. We had to play this a few times before moving on! Everyone returned to the Jedi council seats to put their droid and detonator in their bags and collect a couple more character photos for their key chains.
Next, the Jedi had to pilot podracers against the evil Sebulba. The pods were fashioned from two silver-sprayed wine corks connected by a sparkly pipe cleaner for engines, attached via rubber bands to a clear plastic cockpit (top and bottom of egg carton, with metal jeans button fastener to hold the egg cup closed and rubber bands attached) with a paratrooper alien inside (Oriental Trading). The kids positioned a silver pencil between the engines, pulled back from the cockpit in the other hand, and let go! Most of the littler kids needed help with this, but they still enjoyed the activity. The goal was to get past Sebulba (nasty alien photo on cardstock taped onto post about kid’s shoulder height on broken tower crane). Returning with their pods, aliens, & pencils to the Jedi Council at the end of the game, each Jedi got a C3P0 finger puppet for participating, as well as a Sebulba & C3PO photo for their keychain.
Next, we pretended that a Gungan alien, Jar Jar Binks, from the planet Naboo taught us to grab food (gummy insects) like he does, only instead of slapping out our tongues, we got to use sticky, stretchy hands to grab our bugs (Oriental Trading). I scattered the candy bugs on our coffee table, and the black/gold teams took turns slapping bugs. Everyone got to keep their bugs, sticky hand, and Jar Jar finger puppet, along with some more photos for our lightsaber key ring.
If anyone needed a break from all that Jedi work, the Droid Factory was available in the boys’ bedroom. I made a factory-looking sign and put droid pictures on it. The kids could color Star Wars pictures or build a droid out of colored Styrofoam pellets. (wet end of pellets on sponge and stick together) Builders were rewarded with a Jawa finger puppet and the droid/pages they had made. It was great to have a quiet space for some of the kids to get out of the noise when they needed.
Meanwhile, on the forest moon of Endor, storm troopers were attacking the Ewoks. Jedi’s raced to help the Ewoks climb back into their tree houses, (teams of two, one person on each side pulled string to make cardboard cut-out ewok climb up fireplace mantel) for which they were rewarded an Ewok finger puppet. (I painted a circle of blue paper for the moon and hung it above the fireplace, laid light-up fir garland across the top of the mantel to resemble a forest, and hung the Ewok climbing string from hooks on the underside of mantel. I scanned an Ewok photo from a book, glued it onto cardstock
Then, I told the kids that storm troopers had arrived while placing six AT-AT walkers crudely made from my son’s mega blocks in front of them. Teams of two had to knock down the AT-AT’s Ewok style, using stones (squishy boulders on a string from Oriental Trading). Inside the AT-AT’s were Chewbacca finger puppets. They returned to their squares to put their goodies in their bags and add some more photos to their key chains.
With all those successful adventures, the Jedi were ready to receive the true Jedi weapon: a lightsaber (inexpensive white ones from ebay, but I didn’t put the batteries in)! First, they had to learn how to use it. Delicate control, not whacking each other, I instructed! To practice, they had to walk a balloon around our hallway circle by lightly pushing and guiding it with the lightsaber so it wouldn’t pop. Inside the balloon was a special blue surf shooter marble (tip, lightly coat the marble with powder or flour to get it more easily into the balloon, marbles from ebay). At the end, successful Jedi popped their balloons to retrieve their starship engines (marble).
In addition to using lightsabers, Jedi must be able to pilot starships. So, each Jedi got to pick from one of three types of starships (paper folded with circle slightly larger than marble cut out on bottom; easy paper models from web). They set their starships on top of their engines (marbles) and rolled them across our coffee table. They did this in pairs to see if they could knock the other ship out of orbit (off the table). Each Jedi got an R2D2 finger puppet (star ship co-pilot) for flying their ship, and Han Solo/R2D2 photos, along with their paper ship and marble engine.
Next was more lightsaber training… the training orb. Ours was a ball shaped piñata (made from balloon, painted to look like training orb) that they tossed and kicked back and forth until it opened… candy and Star Wars pez dispensers inside (ebay). A last Jedi light saber training game was to keep a balloon off the floor and from popping. Eventually all the balloons were popped, revealing Jedi master Yoda finger puppets inside.
At the dining table were Luke Skywalker and star ship cutouts were hanging from the kitchen lamp. Metallic punched out stars decorated a black plastic table cloth with yellow napkins and white plates.
Also, there were pit droid party favors made from walnut and pistachio shells painted brown with black pipe cleaner legs/arms. The kids had to try to stand (balance) pit droids while waiting for pizza and Yoda cupcakes (green frosting, candy ears, m&m on white frosting eyes) or slice of R2D2 cake (baked cake mix in two bowls and square pan, frosted/stacked bowl parts together, cut legs out of square pan, stood up and toothpicked to side and frosted). I found a cool R2D2 plastic bowl to fill with snacks on ebay. We served strawberries, too. The Jedi needed to run off their sugar so we set them loose outside with foam insulation pipe lightsabers (handles were wrapped in black tape) before bringing them in for presents and then sending everyone home.