Welcome to the second instalment of our special 4-part Fire Fighter Birthday Party series. My son recently celebrated his 3rd birthday and we are sharing all the fun details with you!
Last week I showed you how to make a cardboard firetruck for pretend play. Today, we are sharing all the other hands-on firefighting play centers we had for our guests!
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We had a small “kids’ party” for Onetime with six guests aged 1 1/2 to 6 – but man, are these kids busy! Anticipating this, I wanted to have the house set up with centers where the kids could freely move around and play together while also choosing to do what they were interested in.
Our centers were a:
- Pretend play cardboard firetruck
- Firefighting felt activity board
- Free play carpet area with lots of emergency vehicles and construction cones
- Firefighting rice sensory bin
- Firefighter themed playdough
- and a quiet reading/puzzle area
Firefighting Feltboard Activity
This activity was planned to appeal to all the kids, but was mostly used by the toddlers! I think that the other activities at the party were just more immediately appealing for group play for the older kids.
However, Onetime has enjoyed playing with this activity a number of times on his own at home since the party. He actually prompted me to create more pieces for the board than I had initially made.
I did not create felt firefighters, because I’m no good at making people out of felt. However – maybe you’d have more success than me! In any case, it wasn’t needed. Onetime added his own character, “This is sticky man, Mommy. This is his house. It’s on fire!”
The felt board can be used for free-play, for encouraging kids to retell a story that they’ve read about firefighting, or as a starting point for creating a story of their own!
To get even more ideas for how to use a felt board with kids, check out our Interactive Pirate Feltboard Activity post.
Firefighting Rice Sensory Bin
This sensory bin was a huge hit at the party! I set it up in a large under-the-bed plastic storage bin on top of a coffee table and it was almost always occupied.
I used blue rice for this bin to make the kids think of water. To find super-easy instructions on colouring rice, scroll to the bottom of this post.
In the bin, I placed a couple of scoops for pouring, a bunch of old game pieces that looked like construction cones, a bunch of paper straws to look like hoses, a couple of plastic hoses created from cable cord covers that I got at IKEA, and a few “houses.”
The houses were made out of old tissue boxes. I painted them with acrylic paints from the dollar store and removed the plastic lining around the opening so the kids could pour rice “water” easily into them.
The kids had fun scooping, pouring, putting out pretend fires in the buildings, and using the hoses to transfer the rice. So much pretend play fun and fine-motor practise!
Also – this center was a real social skills builder. The kids were sharing the scoops, and the hoses, and figuring out ways to transfer the “water” together! Fun!
This center was super easy to set up and it was also a popular activity!
To make the fire-coloured dough (we had red, orange and yellow), I used Wilton Icing Colors, as they make the brightest coloured dough. You can find and print out my awesome homemade playdough recipe in our Free Printables page!
I added a couple of cookie cutters, a roller, and the little firefighters that we also had in the rice sensory bin.
The kids had fun mixing the colours to create flames. They also made firefighter badges using the cookie cutters. A few started playing make-believe with the firefighters!
Firefighter Story Center
In a cozy corner, away from the rest of the party, I created a little nook with a large pillow and a basket of our favourite firefighting books. I also had a couple fire-themed puzzles.
Onetime’s favourite all-time fire-fighting books are Curious George and the Firefighters and Big Frank’s Fire Truck . I highly recommend both. The Curious George stories are always funny and informative and Big Frank’s Fire Truck is such a great way for kids to learn about a firefighter’s day.