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My boys love trains – especially my four year old. This year marks the third year in a row he has opted to have a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday party. I wanted to throw a fun, unique, and creative party for Harry and his friends. I wanted the kids to make, play, and enjoy their time together. Here are a few ideas we used that helped give my little train enthusiast a happy birthday!
Salt Dough Train Ornaments
Salt dough ornaments are a really fun and easy project. We typically make Christmas ornaments from salt dough, and enjoy an afternoon of painting and decorating. Kids love to be creative, and art projects are a fun and unique choice for a children’s party activity. Art projects are also a great “take-away.”
Salt Dough is super simple and cost-effective to make. Here is what you’ll need:
1 cup flour
1 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add in water, and mix/knead together until the mixture becomes a smooth dough.
On a floured surface, dump out the dough and roll to about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes. Use a straw to punch out holes near the top of the shapes if you’d like to create ornaments.
For Harry’s party, I used mini train cookie cutters. Every child got to paint an engine and a caboose. This is a cute set of transportation cookie cutters!
Every birthday party needs a few simple games. These games are SUPER simple and just right for the preschool crowd.
Collect the Coal:
I came up with this game years ago for my oldest son’s Thomas party. I could not believe how much the kids loved this game. We tried it again at my younger son’s party, and the kids went crazy for it again! The kids at the party asked to play this game over and over!
What you’ll need:
Use foil to create small balls. You’ll need a good amount. I fill a large Tupperware bowl with the pretend “coal.”
Gather the kids to the carpet/driveway. Tell the children that one of Thomas’s coal cars is going to tip over! (I really play this up, and you can add as much “story” or detail as you like.) Show them the bowl of “coal.” Then, start to really rattle and shake, and then “spill” the coal all over the area. I take handful and just throw in all directions. Then, say “Go!” and instruct the kids to pick up as much coal as they can to help Thomas.
The kids LOVE this game. I wish I could make clean-up of their toys so exciting! It’s a very easy, cost-effective game!
Follow the Engine:
To play this game, have the kids take turns being the engine. Have the other kids grab the waist or shoulders of the child in front of them, and tell them that they are “coupling” up to the engine. As the child in the lead winds through the house, you can add some story to their play. (Ie- The train is chugging by Knapford Station. You’re about to come to the Steam Works. It’s time for a rest. Bust my boilers! You sure are fast! Etc.)
Games don’t need to be fancy or elaborate. Kids are okay with simple. Simple can be FUN!
Train Track Number Cake
I have made this cake twice for my son – with a 2 and a 3. Everyone raves about this cake – and it’s SUPER simple to make! To make this cake, simply bake up your favorite cake in a 13×9 pan. Frost in desired color. I chose green to resemble grass. Next, tint some of your icing black, and make an outline of the number your child is turning. Pipe lines across the number to resemble tracks. Place an engine on top and you are done!
Decorate Train Mini Cakes
I chose to have the kids who attended my son’s 4th birthday party decorate individual train cakes. It was a HIT! The kids loved getting to pipe their own frosting and decorate their train cars with candies and treats.
To create the cakes, I used a Silicone Train Cake Pan. They also have a similar pan from Wilton (non-Silicone.) These are very simple to use, and just require a healthy dose of cooking spray to prevent the cakes from sticking.
For ease and sanitation reasons, I made each child their own individual bag of frosting. (Need a great frosting recipe? Check out my Marshmallow Buttecream!) I mixed up the frosting, and scooped a small amount into a zippered plastic baggie. I was able to make these up the day before the party to save time! (With a child’s party, I do as much as I can before the day of the party as possible!!) When it’s time to decorate, simply snip off the very tip of one of the bag’s corners. Voila! Each child has their own piping bag!
I put out a large platter in the center of the table filled with a variety of sweets and candies. You can use whatever you like, but try to choose a few items that could be used for wheels.
The kids will have so much fun creating their own masterpiece that they get to eat and enjoy! I loved seeing their wonderfully gloppy creativity!
Graham Cracker Trains
We used this idea for my oldest son’s third birthday party. It worked, as there were only a handful of children at the party. Due to the amount of prep work, I wouldn’t recommend this idea for a large group of children. (Although I did used to do this in my kindergarten classroom each year!)
We always begin the party by setting out all of our trains for the kids to play with. We build several LARGE tracks and give the kids some time to play together/get comfortable before the party begins. This time of free play helps keep the kids focused while waiting for all guests to arrive, and gives all kids the opportunity to “warm up” before the festivities begin.
You can find even MORE train ideas, crafts, treats, printables, and more by clicking on my Polar Express Activities Post!