Everyone in our house loves American Ninja Warrior (ANW). If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, click here. My son may be the biggest fan in the house, so when we moved to our new home with two acres of yard, I offered to throw him an ANW themed party for his 8th birthday.
I'm certainly not the first person to throw an ANW party and I found a lot of great inspiration on Pinterest. The first thing I did was plan the course. Here's what I came up with.
Our backyard is a big hill so I put most of the obstacles on the flattest portion of the yard. To wear the kids out, I started and ended the course at the top of the hill.
1. Box Jump
My husband and I built the boxes out of scrap wood. I used my Silhouette Cameo to make the stencils to decorate the tops. I designed the ANW looking logo and used it on the kids t-shirts and signs for the party.
2. Pool Noodle Tunnel
I bought the Pool Noodles
on Amazon. I used wood stakes from Home Depot to anchor them into the ground.
3. Laser Walk
This slowed some of the kids down but a lot of them flew through it. To make it I drilled holes in the tops of wooden stakes and threaded, and zig-zagged blue rope through the holes (like a laser). The goal was to get through the obstacle without touching the blue rope. That's my mom supervising. I stationed a grown-up at any obstacles where I thought kids might need help. A few kids got tripped up by this obstacle, but they all got back up and kept on running.
4. Balance Beams
I used scrap wood and bed risers from Ikea to construct the balance beams. I painted blue squares (with grass friendly spray paint) on the ground before and after each obstacle. The kids were told to start and end each obstacle on a blue square. I did this to ensure the course was fair and that no one cut corners. I used the same paint to paint arrows pointing the way from obstacle to obstacle. Each obstacle was also marked with a sign. To make the the signs, I painted pieces of cardboard silver, trimmed each sign with duct tape, then added a vinyl number cut by my Silhouette Cameo.
5. Plasma Scooter
The goal here was to scoot from one side of the basketball court to the other.
6. Trampoline Target Jump
Trampolines are used frequently on ANW, so I had to incorporate one on our course. Thankfully, a neighbor loaned me hers. The goal of this obstacle was to use the trampoline to jump onto the target on the gym mats. Someone in my neighborhood had put the mats out with the trash a week before the party - SCORE! I used duct tape to make the target.
7. Slack Line Walk
This was the hardest obstacle, but the kids loved it. I stationed a parent here too. I bought the line on Amazon and picked this particular one because it came with a training line. It was super easy to install and I plan to leave it up until it gets cold.
8. Haystack Wall
I had to do a fair amount of calling around to find a garden center that would deliver haystacks for a reasonable rate. I used plastic stakes to cover the stacks with an old sheet. The sheet helped to stabilize the stack and made it a bit more comfortable to climb over.
Before running the course we gathered all of the kids in our basement to watch about 15 minutes. of the 2015 ANW finals.
Next, I had all of the kids walk the course with me and asked for volunteers to demonstrate each obstacle. I made a balloon arch the morning of the party and had the kids line up behind it to wait for their turn to run the course.
I had a few kid and adult volunteers hold a crepe paper finish line. I think the kids really liked this. I also blew an air horn at the start and finish of each run. We did keep time, but we didn't announce or give an award to the winner. The fastest time was 1:21 and the slowest time was 3:09.
As each contestant finished the course, they were awarded a cookie medal.
I used this recipe to make the cookies. It was definitely one of the tastiest sugar cookie recipes I've ever used. I used a drinking straw to cut the hole for the ribbon prior to baking. I also gently pressed a Star Cookie Cutter
(just to make an imprint) into the top of each cookie before baking. The star imprint made applying the icing much easier.
The sugary fun didn't stop with the cookies. After everyone had run the race, it was time for cake.
After cake we let the kids play and rerun the course until they were exhausted. I even managed to get a group photo of all of the Ninjas.
The party was a blast and my kids are still enjoying all of the obstacles. One kid came up to me and said, "Thanks for inviting me. This party was epic!" That compliment pretty much made my year.