It all started when we bought this book from Goodwill for $1:
It’s an easy-reader chapter book with big pictures on most pages. My son fell in love with it right away and decided (around May or June) that his August birthday party would have a Robinson Crusoe theme. So here we are giving you the birthday party report! The premise of the party was that the guests, in three teams, have been shipwrecked. As we read portions of the story the teams would have to do what Robinson did: salvage the ship, build a shelter, build a fire and find food. I’ll show you the set-up today, and then how the party actually went next week. A special Thank You to Padjay for the photographs. To see more of her work check out my Ninja Party. Now, let’s go!
As usual I used an invitation from Punchbowl.com. There are lots of beach and ocean themed invitations on Punchbowl, my son chose this crab one. In the invitation we explained the premise of the party and told guests, beside pertinent details like time and date, that we would provide shipwreck outfits, so they needn’t come in costume.
I wanted it to feel like you were entering a different land when you came through the backyard, so I used this section of…ummm…what’s it called again? I wish my husband were here right now to enlighten me. Anyway, it’s something to do with a hunting blind. Camouflage blah blah blah. We draped it here and behind our display table. You know how I love a display table!
The Display Table:
For this you walk through your house and grab anything someone might have after a shipwreck in the 1800s. We had:
- Treasure box (This was my son’s idea. I pointed out that Robinson Crusoe was not a pirate, but he was vehement: Robinson Crusoe 100% would have had a pirate chest with him.)
- My son’s Bible (The cover is a treasure map. It’s a “God’s Treasure” Bible)
- Casting net
- Wine bottles with candles in them (unlit)
- Model Ship (not sure if they had model ships on ships. I don’t have a model house in my house…or a model car in my car…)
- A leather-bound version of Robinson Crusoe that just happened to be on my bookshelf (#winning)
- The Ink and Feather Quill that we made in this post
- Parrot carving (which is pretending to be a real parrot)
- Candelabra that we bought at Goodwill and spray painted gold for our Disney Princess Party (and I’m just noticing now that I forgot to put candles in it- I always forget something)
- Old bottles
- Deer hide
The Waterfall Tableau:
We tried to make the backyard look like an island paradise, with a shipwreck as the main focal point. We made a waterfall tableau at one side of the shipwreck. Blankets draped over the fence became a waterfall and a lacy princess dress was the foam from the waterfall. We completed it with the coral reef from our Mermaid party and some DIY Palm Trees (see Tutorial here).
Unfortunately, it rained the night before so the ground was soaked. We just put a tarp underneath the blanket. Fortunately we knew it was supposed to rain, so nothing got soaked, but, since the party was in the morning, there was A LOT to set up before the party started. My sister-in-law slept over the night before, so she was a huge help in getting ready on time.
I had a huge amount of help with this from my husband, God bless him. We have a sailboat, so he hung some old sails from the trees and fence to look like the ship sails. My parents own a moving company, and so have lots of boxes. We just built a bunch of them and had them strewn around the ground. This picture was taken before my Mum got here, so when she arrived we added a bunch more- I think you’ll be able to see in the later pictures if you want a better idea.
The shipwreck contains:
- Ship wheel (on the sails, you can see the tutorial by clicking here.)
- Various sized boxes
- A shirt and sash/belt for each person. We cut and sewed them very ruggedly from an old duvet cover. It was kind of liberating, sewing crappily, because they were supposed to look like clothes that a person was shipwrecked in!
- Wood: sticks for starting a fire, planks, 2 x 4 and bamboo stakes for building a shelter
- One tarp for each team
- Lengths of twine
- Egg Carton (the team that got the egg carton was the only team to have their fire catch)
- Cardboard for building a fire
A Place to Read a Story:
We laid out two blankets for the kids to sit on with a row of chairs for the adults to sit on behind them. Then I had a chair to sit on at the front. We would start every activity by reading the corresponding pages in the book. It was just awesome how everyone sat so quietly to listen to a book at a birthday party. I loved it!
Team Meeting Posts:
I needed a rendezvous point for each team so I wrote numbers on cardboard and then wrote each team member’s name around the outside. I then taped the numbers to bamboo poles and stuck them in the soft ground. I tried to have each team an equal distance from the shipwreck.
Just for fun we hid stuffies around this section of the yard. We didn’t draw attention to them or tell the kids about them, but so many of them would run up to me and tell me they found a snake! Or a tiger (yes, my son assures me that tigers live on Robinson’s island)! So we’d ask those children if they think they can go find some more.
Number and Hide the Fruit:
In the book, Robinson Crusoe has to find his own food. He says specifically fruit and eggs, and he learns to harvest grain and make bread. So I thought that we should hide fruit, eggs and bannock mix for the kids to find. I also threw in seaweed because my son loves seaweed and he was the birthday boy. Each item needs a number on it corresponding to the team who should find it.
The numbered food we had was:
- One big fruit for each team: papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe
- One small fruit for each team: coconut, mango, kiwi
- One bag of green and red grapes per team
- Two eggs for each team
- One package of seaweed for each team
- One bag of bannock (the team who found this got extra points)
Prep for Activities:
There’s not a lot to this after you do the set-up for the decorations because essentially the decorations are a large part of the activities. But here are the few things you could do.
DIY Burlap Hat
Gather your supplies to make your Burlap hats. For the supplies and instructions for this craft please click here.
Sign the Sign:
I didn’t add this under decorations because I only turned it around when we read this part of the story. In the book, Robinson makes a sign on which to carve the number of days he’s been on the island in order to help him keep track. He carved the above words into the sign. I had another small sheet of cardboard and a permanent marker so each child could sign the cardboard and then we stapled it underneath Robinson’s name.
Other Item’s You’ll Need (depending on which activities you want to do)
- Camp stove
- Frying pan
- Knives and cutting boards
Stay tuned for how the party actually went. **Spoiler Alert** It was awesome. I’ll give you details on the order we did things in, what our awesome food was (especially the cake, pineapple and cucumber!) and what we did with all that salvage material. I can hardly wait!