The challenge – Octonauts party games for a large group
Octonauts, to the rescue! For Toby’s 6th birthday party, I was challenged with creating Octonauts party games for a large group of children.
I often get asked to entertain groups of around 25 children. These are often parties for youngsters in the first few years of school, when the mums feel obliged to invite everyone in the class. It’s little wonder that parents feel extremely anxious about entertaining all those kids. For such large numbers, many party activities are just too cumbersome or expensive. I find team games are a great way to cope with the numbers.
For this party, the 6-year-old guest of honour wanted an ‘Octonauts’ theme. So I divided the children into 4 teams, and assigned each team a character (Peso, Tunip, Captain Barnacle and Kwazi) and a colour. Upon arrival, each of the kids was given a laminated badge with their character, and a coloured sash. Every time I needed the kids to assemble, I’d blow my whistle (essential equipment) and call out the rallying cry “Octonauts, to your stations!” Lo and behold, it worked!
Our first game was a Treasure hunt, which allowed the excitable little Octonauts to run off their start-of-party excitement. Each team was handed a bag, a parchment listing what to collect, and a pencil. Before the party, I hid some sea-themed items in the park, and also included naturally occurring things like ‘the longest leaf’. The kids loved finding their ‘sea creatures’, which were ziplock bags containing plastic seaweed and critters, filled with blue coloured water.
Magnetic Fishing Game
The next game brought everyone back together, and was a special request of the birthday boy. He loves the magnetic fishing game. I found some rods in a toy shop, and replaced the fish with cardboard cutouts of the Octonauts. It had taken me a while to figure out how to stand them up, until came up with the idea of using Oasis, that feather-light substance which holds flower arrangements in place. Each team lined up around the pond (a kids paddling pool), and all fished at the same time. This made it a hectic competition – much fun – though the lines did require untangling when the magnets found each other.
Green Spaghetti Seaweed
Tie for the squelch element. Most young kids love a bit of goop, and this game satisfied their desire for slime. Once again lined up in teams, each line had to pass pre-cooked green spaghetti (‘seaweed’) down the line to where one volunteer was sitting with a bucket at their feet. I’d placed marble ‘pearls’ in the buckets and, once the seaweed was dumped in on top, one volunteer from each team had to fish out the pearls with their toes and transfer as many as possible into an empty container. Despite many of the kids professing to be squeamish about passing the seaweed, I had to do a super-quick cleanup at the end to stop them throwing the offending stuff at each other.
Pool Noodle Ball Relay
Time again to run around, this time with a relay. Everybody lined up in their teams, and had to hit a ball along with a pool noodle. A cheap and easy-to-prepare game and another successful way to burn off energy!
Water Balloon Toss
Next, the big favourite…the water balloon toss. Here’s a tip: fill your water balloons and transport them in a bucket in advance. I lined the teams up, then placed the pool noodles at intervals to form a distance which would earn the thrower 1 point, 2 points and so on. Then the really funny bit – the older kids had to stand next to these lines and act as targets. They were surprisingly keen to do so, though I did tell them they could duck and weave. Much hilarity (and some necessary towelling off) ensued.
The Final Reckoning
These games took up about 1 hour 15 mins, and were a huge success. While the kids then enjoyed their party food (set up by mum during the games), I tallied up the scores, then presented the winning team with ribbons.
The things I learnt are:
- A whistle is your greatest friend!
- Crepe paper sashes last about 5 minutes! Buy ribbons next time.
- You will never get all the kids listening to all the instructions, so just get started and even if it’s chaotic, they’ll be having fun.
- Have older kids or extra parents on hand as helpers, to help with transitions, guide the smaller children, and monitor adherence to the rules.
- Have a dedicated scorer, armed with a whiteboard. Someone who can keep a keen eye on the action is invaluable.
Photography by Sean Amarasinghe