Grab your lab coat and safety glasses because planning a science party for your tot is dangerously fun. The themed decor, activities and food will show the young guests that science is anything but boring. You won't need an actual mad scientist to pull off the party theme -- just a few strategic elements will do the trick!
Let the tiny party guests know they're about to attend a party full of science fun with themed invitations. For a simple invitation, cut card stock into a beaker shape with the party info written on it. If you want something more memorable, fill clean and unused test tubes with candies. Tie a tag on the tube with the party details. If you don't want to overload the guests with sugar, use bubble tubes that look like test tubes.
Decorating the space to look like a mad scientist's lab sets the stage for a party full of science fun. A sign for the door that says "Top Secret Lab. Do Not Enter," or a paper with a handprint that says "Scan to Enter" are ways to start the party on a fun, humorous note. Even though the kids can't actually read yet, they'll still get a kick out of the sign when you read it to them. Inside, decorate with beakers, microscopes, test tubes and other science gear. A little dry ice creates a smoky, mad-scientist feel, but make sure there's an adult close by at all times to keep the little party guests away from the ice -- and to make sure that the young scientists don't break any glass science gear. Posters of the periodic table, solar system, human body and similar science topics are an inexpensive way to decorate the walls.
Simple preschool science experiments are a natural fit for the activities portion of the party. Enlist several adults to run the experiments and supervise the kiddos to keep everyone safe. The erupting volcano with baking soda and vinegar is a classic that young kids can appreciate. Another option is swirling milk. Put some whole milk in a dish with a few drops of food coloring. Dip a cotton swab in liquid soap, and then touch it to the drops of food color floating in the milk. When the food color comes in contact with the soap, it spreads into a ring, as it's repelled by the soap. If you want a break from experiments, outfit each kiddo with a magnifying glass for a scavenger hunt of science objects.
Using brand new petri dishes and beakers as containers can make any party food or drink feel science-related. Check out a teaching supply store for these items. If you don't want to mess around with beakers, or are worried about them breaking, use clear plastic cups and a permanent marker to draw lines and measurements like you would see on a real beaker. You can also let the kids concoct their own pizzas using bagels or English muffins as the crust. Once the guests top their pizzas, broil them for a few minutes to melt the cheese. For a simple dessert, print pictures of science-related items onto card stock to use as cupcake toppers. You might also want to include a gummy worm on each cupcake as well -- just because kids really love them!
Party favors send the junior scientists off in style with a little memento of the science bash. A fitting option is a child-sized lab coat and safety goggles. The kiddos can wear the science garb during the party and take it home at the end. Another option is a bag of science gear, such as a magnifying glass, lab notebook, colorful rocks and small science charts. Just skip magnets. While they can lead to fun scientific exploration, magnets are very dangerous for young kids if swallowed.