The O-”fish”-al Start to School, Part 1

Ah, it’s that time of year again. One where the flip flops get put away and pencils are picked up. A time that is often met with mixed emotions … sadness for the end of summer and excitement to see friends and what is to come. To ease this transition period, I’ve started a tradition in our house of having a small party for the kids to celebrate the end of summer and usher in the new school year.

This year marks our second annual school party, and the kids were very excited to see what theme I would unveil. I saw plenty of really cute Back to School parties, but I wanted something more unique … something that would relate back to things that the kids would study in school. I chose School is Oceans of Fun.

School is Oceans of Fun collage image ©2012 The Memory Fairy

School is Oceans of Fun ©2012 The Memory Fairy

It started with a centerpiece created to look like a coral reef. I found a hanging basket at the dollar store and used it to create a cage for a floral foam base. The top piece of styrofoam was held in place with toothpicks. I placed the base on cardboard to avoid scratching my table.

Reef Centerpiece Structure image ©2012 The Memory Fairy

Reef Centerpiece Structure ©2012 The Memory Fairy

Then it was time to build the reef. I found some plastic aquarium plants at a pet store and coral at Walmart and placed those in the base. I filled in spaces with ivory and purple fall flowers from the dollar store. I cut them off their stems and pushed them into the foam. To round out the reef, I found some glittery, fan-shaped picks at a craft store and some clear glass ornaments to give the reef some sparkle. To cover the cardboard base, I tried sand, but it really was too messy and didn’t look right. Instead, I cut up some blue cellophane and placed it around the base’s edge and then covered up the rest with floral moss from the dollar store. The last pieces were some shells that the kids had picked up from various beach trips, and some glass shells from a craft store. Here is the final centerpiece …

Ocean-Reef Centerpiece image © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Ocean-Reef Centerpiece © 2012 The Memory Fairy

I think it came out pretty well. Of course it’s not a party without games, activities and food! I found a Sea Life Bingo game that I printed out. We used aquarium rocks (aka M&Ms) as markers. Instead of saying “bingo,” I had the kids say “fishy” just for fun.

After several rounds of “Fishy,” we made an ocean in a bottle with sand and shells we collected at the beach this summer using this Ocean in a bottle tutorial. I wish I would have rinsed the sand before putting it in the bottle, since it got a little cloudy, but the kids don’t seem to mind. They love to tilt the bottles back and forth and watch the “ocean.”

Ocean in a bottle image © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Ocean in a bottle © 2012 The Memory Fairy

I love school supplies, so I had to incorporate them into our “School Is Oceans of Fun” party. I used my 3-tiered plate stand to showcase some of the items on the kids lists, with fun ocean-themed tags. We had “fishing rod” pencils, “tackle box” pencil cases and erasers, scissors and crayons as “lures & bait.” I found the starfish-shaped sticky notes and the blue fish cutouts at the dollar store and thought they made the perfect signs for the party.

Fishing for school supplies image © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Fishing for school supplies © 2012 The Memory Fairy

The backdrop for the dessert bar was a roll of blue cellophane that had been cut into wavy strips. To add more dimension, I added some lighter blue streamers. I used the blue fish and starfish shapes here as well. The cellophane gave a blue cast to the table which made it seem like it was really underwater.

Ocean backdrop image © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Ocean backdrop © 2012 The Memory Fairy

I found the cutest fish pencil sharpeners and sea life magic capsules at the dollar store as well, so I had to make these little favors too. I threw in a few Smarties, for my smarties. :)

Ocean fish favors image © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Ocean fish favors © 2012 The Memory Fairy

Next post Part 2 … Oceans of Food!

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