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Zack's 11th Birthday Party

So a couple of weeks before Zack's birthday, he says to me, "Mom, I think I want to have a theme party this year." Wow. I don't think he's ever asked for that. So I said to him, "What kind of theme party would you like?" At first he mumbled something about a music theme... I was envisioning clarinet cakes, music note invitations, musical chairs??? I don't know, to me, it just didn't seem too exciting. So I talked him into a "Mad Scientist Party."

I really enjoyed getting ready for it. Many people on Facebook gave me credit for the creative ideas and such, but there are hundreds of ideas on the internet, people. Thanks for the compliment, but wasn't all me!


Here are the scientists. They all met at their school (CAJ) and walked to our house. Before they entered, I told the boys, "Welcome to the Johnston Science Lab. Please be very careful today not to burn down the house." If I had more time, I would have gotten 6 men's white shirts from a thrift store as their "lab coats". Plastic goggles would have been nice, too (I'm writing other ideas down for those of you who want to do this in the future for your kids).

At the entrance and inside the house, I printed out "lab signs" like radioactivity, danger, poison, flammable, etc. You can print these off of the internet. There was also a sign that pointed to the living room: "This Way to the Science Lab."

There were the Periodic Table of Elements as their place mats. When the boys sat down, the first thing they did was to come up with creative names for the day and make name tags. Zack was "Dr. Alkali" (like the battery. Personally, I think he should have been "Battery Boy," but oh well.)

Then we played Science Bingo. Again, you can create templates online. We used candy that looked like medicine pills as the game pieces.


And, what's a science party without baking soda and vinegar? We made it into a competition to see who would have the highest bubbles. Dr. Zack Alkali won the game because he figured out a trick to make it go higher!



The funnest part was watching the boys dissect an alien baby in a petri dish. I told them that these were dangerous alien life forms that needed to be destroyed. The only way to do that was to cut off all of its tentacles, and to somehow dig out the brain and eat it. (Note to self: DO NOT give out sharp Cutco knives to boys who are only used to chopsticks!! I thought we would literally have severed fingers by the end of the activity!)



Next, we tested out the scientists' skill of balance. I purchased a 100 yen block set for each child, and was surprised to see how competitive they all got! Once again, Dr. Zack Alkali beat all of the other scientists in the lab by balancing the most blocks in a red-blue-blue pattern.



Lunch time was a blast... a bit messy, but a blast nonetheless. I got cheap plastic beakers and syringes from the science section of Tokyu Hands (a large department store), and had them drink their juice out of them. Yes, they did end up squirting each other's faces "BY ACCIDENT," of course, so I suggest clear juices, and not grape juice.


Later on we served an interesting snack... it's like a science experiment and candy mixed into one. I'm very thankful for creative candy kits here in Japan!




I also got some test tubes and served pretzel sticks inside the tubes with glow sticks. If you can find some gross fake fingers at the 100 yen shop, that adds to the boys' cool factor as well:)


Here is a group picture taken before I sent them off to play outside. You can only keep the mad scientists caged up in the lab for so long. You can see little Ellie's head in the background. As soon as the boys left, she turned on the TV and inserted her Barbie Princess movie!! She had enough boy stuff for one day.



(Epilogue: Ellie: "Mommy, when it's MY birthday, can you do cool stuff like this for me, too? Like I want the room to be like a fairy castle, and to have it decorated pretty, and to have signs that say, "welcome to the castle", and...)

Oh boy. I'll blog about her party in a month.

Click here to see a fun slideshow from the Mad Scientist birthday party.

Jeff's Posts


Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.


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Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.


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