Wooden horseshoes are easily found at craft stores, which is great because prying them off wooden horses can be tricky! These horseshoes encourage your little one's "riding the range" fantasy and complete a Western themed birthday party. Using wooden horseshoes in everything from the decorations to the party favors enhances the mood and sends each little bronco buster home with fun treats and a passel of memories.
Horseshoe wreaths are a creative way to make Western decor. You'll need about a dozen horse shoes for each wreath. Two or three preschool-aged children can work on one wreath a time, or they can each do their own with help from an adult. Lay six horseshoes in a circle so the rounded part is in the center. Lay another ring of six horseshoes on top of the bottom layer. These horseshoes will line up so the edges of the bottom horseshoes are seen in the center of each top horseshoe. Use fast-drying wood glue at every point where the horseshoes touch and clip them with large paper clamps to help them dry in place. Play a game at the party and come back to the wreaths. Remove the clamps and paint the horse shoes, if you want. Otherwise, you can weave a ribbon, scarf or bandana through each horseshoe to give it a rustic look.
Give each child a wooden horseshoe to decorate. Use paint, beads, glitter, puff balls and any other craft supplies you have on hand so the kids can decorate their horseshoe how they want. If you can find letter beads, each child can glue them on her horseshoe to personalize it with her name. Beads and other art supplies that could be choking hazards should be carefully supervised when dealing with preschoolers, and safer art supplies should be substituted for toddlers. When the glue and paint is dry, tie a ribbon or some twine to the holes in the end of each horseshoe so it can be hung.
Teach your birthday crew about tracking animals by rolling out some craft paper (you can often buy it from newspaper printers) outside. Pour washable paint onto paper plates and give the kids horseshoes. They can make colorful hoof prints on the paper and try to create the gait of a horse. You can also make a birthday banner for your tot by writing a message on it first, and then letting the kids put hoof prints around the words.
Of course, you can always play horseshoes with horseshoes. Wooden horseshoes are preferable for little ones because they aren't as heavy and don't hurt as much if your little one's aim is off. Set up horse shoes using an existing post, like one used for tetherball, or by nailing a 1 to 2-inch wide dowel to a wood board. Make a line in the grass using a jump rope and have the kids toss the horseshoes at the post. Whoever gets closest wins.