Juggling & Kid Parties
February 15, 2004
Go Hand in Hand...
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When I was about nine years old, one of my Dad's long lost cousins stayed at our house for a few nights. I don't remember what he looks like. I don't remember his name. And I've never seen him since. The only thing I remember is that he taught me how to juggle three oranges – and for that I will never forget him.
Juggling is fun, it's challenging, it involves a bit of coordination, lots of laughter and anyone – yes, even you – can get the hang of it with just a bit of practice.
And it can be one heck of a party activity!
Since the inception of this site, the underlying philosophy has been to help you and your kids throw the coolest party at minimal cost and maximum fun. You can always hire a clown or a magician and some will give a great show. But then there's a lot of stuff you can do yourself. It's not easy. I admit… it's even frightening to hope to entertain a bunch of kids and come out unscathed. But it's a challenge. And with some quality time with your children and lot's of excitement you can throw the coolest party ever and come out with a wonderful sense of achievement (and maybe only a few scratches ;-).
Back to juggling…
In short, the idea is to have the kids make their own juggling balls as the icebreaker activity, get them together for a few group juggling games and then teach them all how to juggle on their own. This activity is probably most suitable for ages 6 and up.
To help out, I've teamed up with Jim Nelson from www.jugglenow.com who is a devout juggler and an expert in the field. He'll be helping us out a bit later on in the article.
Great Icebreaker - Make Your Own Juggling Balls!
It's a great idea to let the kids make their own juggling balls as an icebreaker activity. For each juggling ball you'll need:
½ cup uncooked instant rice
1 plastic sandwich bag
1 rubber band
2 medium-sized balloons
Pour the rice into the plastic sandwich bag (for heavier balls, you may substitute the rice with dried beans or clean sand). Pinch the bag tightly around the rice, squeeze out any air, make it into a ball shape and secure with the rubber band. Cut off the excess plastic bag near the rubber band knot.
Cut off the neck end of two sturdy, medium-size balloons in contrasting colors. Stretch one of the balloons over the filled bag so that it fits tightly, making sure the rubber band side is completely covered. Snip three or four small holes randomly on the second balloon. Stretch it over the ball, covering the opening of the first balloon. The cutouts will reveal the color of the first balloon.
Have each child prepare two or three juggling balls (depending on their age. The younger children will have a “handful” trying to juggle two balls while the older kids will be challenged to juggle three).
You can also hand out these cool jester hats to wear, or even use them as the favor bags and stuff them with cool juggling items and trinkets.
Now, on to the juggling activity.
A little group juggling is an excellent way to warm up those hands and get everyone exhilarated. Here's one idea:
Have all the guests stand in a close circle and hand the ball to the birthday child. Explain that they'll be tossing the ball to the same person every time. Have the birthday child toss it to a guest who'll toss it to another until each child has caught and thrown the ball once. Repeat the tossing and catching pattern several times until each guest knows whom to toss to and who will be tossing to them. You might have guests call out names as they throw to help everyone remember the pattern.
Once everyone is comfortable with the sequence, add another ball to the circle, following the same pattern. Then, try adding a third and a fourth ball. The visual effect is awesome, and with four balls being tossed and caught continuously, it'll look like the group has achieved a complicated juggling maneuver.
The Art of Juggling
Now that everyone's warmed up, it's time to teach everyone how to juggle like the pros.
It's great if you or a family member knows how to juggle three balls. But if not, no worries, Jim from Jugglenow is here to help us learn how to juggle and also how to teach the kids…
Hi Elad and all you Birthdayography subscribers – Jim here and I can't wait to help you get started!
Kids' birthdays and juggling go so well together. It's a great group activity.
This past December, I had someone contact me about getting some juggling balls and instruction brochures for an annual family gathering. Just after Christmas, about 20 of them get together at a cabin in the woods in northern Michigan for a week every year. And this year they wanted to provide juggling balls and instructions for everyone to work on during their week "getaway!" A fun group activity to bring everyone together!
You DON'T have to be "coordinated" to juggle. Just a little persistent practice will do it. It really varies in "how long" it takes. Some people pick it up rather quickly, and some take a little longer, so it's important, especially with kids, not to become frustrated.
If the adult CAN juggle a little, great. But learning together is fine too. It can show kids that it DOES take some practice for everyone – even grownups.
I've written a complete and easy to understand tutorial on learning how to juggle three balls.
You'll start off by teaching the kids to juggle one ball, then two balls and then three balls. Learning to juggle two balls goes pretty smoothly, but the kids probably won't be great at three balls by the end of the party, so you can print out this condensed version for them to take home. In fact, if you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'd be glad to send you those condensed instructions as a nice 3-fold brochure for Free.
Thanks Jim! Wow, what a great idea to hand out a three-fold juggling brochure for the kids to take home at the end of the party.
If you want to buy juggling balls (instead of making them), Jim is offering a special discount to Birthdayography subscribers only: 20% discount on these juggling balls that are perfect for kid parties (use coupon code: JUGNOW998), and 10% off everything else at his juggling store (use coupon code: JUGNOW887). The offer is good through February 28th, 2004.
And as a final note…
When the kids grow up, they probably won't remember your name, nor are they likely to remember what you look like, and which party it was. But, they'll never forget who taught them how to juggle.
Thanks to Jim Nelson from jugglenow.com and, of course, to my Dad's long lost cousin…
Elad the Birthday Dad
P.S. Jim is a fellow “SBIer” (meaning “SiteBuildIt User”). In previous articles and in this success story I've explained how it came to be that my sister Tamar and I earn a living from the internet by using SiteBuildIt. Jim also earns a nice part of his livelihood from the internet. And it's all thanks to SBI.