Black Light Party for Kids

March 03, 2012
Yesterday, we had our group sensory play date and this time it was all aglow!
In this post I am going to share how I set up each activity and prepared the play space for the play date.  Then tomorrow I will tell you all about the messy fun the little ones had!
 The first thing I had to do to prepare for the play date was replace the light bulbs in the basement play area with black light bulbs.  This was very easy to do.  We purchased six of these 48" black light bulbs from our local Walmart, and that was more than enough to fill the whole basement with fantastic black lighting.  We plan to use the black lighting a lot, so it was worth the investment for us, but you could also use a single black light fixture to fill a smaller room.  Prior to this party we were using one fixture purchased from Walmart for $10, and it was working great for Rosie and Jewel to explore.

I set the room up similar to the way I had for our first group sensory play date.  I had stations lining the perimeter of the room, with open space in the middle for the little ones to run around.  This is what the room looked like once it was all set up.

The right side of the room

The left side of the room

I was so excited for this first station, consisting of various Glowing Discovery Bottles.  I couldn't wait to see the babies in the play group manipulate and explore with these!

While researching black lighting online, I discovered that the quinine  in tonic water makes it glow bright blue under the black light.  To make the six blue discovery bottles, I simply peeled the label off of 1 liter bottles of tonic water, and placed varying items in each one for the children to discover and explore.  You can get two liters of tonic at Walmart for under $1

One discovery bottle was designed to explore objects that sink vs objects that float.    I used marbles and pom poms to make this, and selected ones that reacted to the black light.  When turning the bottle upside down, the marbles would race to the bottom, and the pom poms would quickly float back to the surface.  

Another discovery bottle was filled with snakes and bugs, all of which glowed under the black light.

This discovery bottle was filled with the letters of the alphabet, and the idea was to play I Spy while exploring with it by asking the little ones to find varying letters. 

Another discovery bottle had glow sticks.  Yet another, bounce balls.  Next to the discovery bottles, I set up a Face Painting Station.

blacklight party

For this station, I hung a mirror long ways using command tape strips to ensure it would stay in place.  I then set out several neon face painting kits so that the little ones could paint their own faces. 

The next station was out of this world!

I filled a small wading pool with glowing water beads, planets, asteroids, and shooting stars.  I found packs of glowing planets and such a The Dollar Tree.

 To make glowing water beads, simply use glow water in place of regular water when growing the water beads.   If you are unfamiliar with glow water, you can read all about it in my previous post, Glowing Water- Uses and How to Make it!  If you are unfamiliar with water beads, you can read more about them here.

This Glowing Bubble Station was really easy to set up.  I placed our bubble machine that we already had on a chair, and made some glowing bubble solution. That was it! Glowing bubble solution is really easy to make.  I used this recipe, but you could probably use any bubble recipe, and just use glow water in place of water.  You can also buy glowing bubble solution if you don't feel like making your own.

I was really excited about this next station.  I could not wait to see the children's reactions to a glowing pool of balloons.  To make this station, I filled a small pool with black light reactive neon balloons.  These balloons looked so fantastic under the black light!  If you want to recreate this, you only need about thirty balloons.  I used about thirty for the ball pit, and used roughly twenty more to decorate the room.  

 Please note- you can also use regular neon balloons.  Some do glow under black light, but you will want to test them before purchase.  Not all things that look neon react to black light.  To test items before purchase, you can carry a blacklight flashlight.

The next station was to be a pool of glowing GOOP.  However, I wanted to wait and mix the GOOP up once the little ones were there, so this was how this station was set up when everyone arrived.

GOOP is so easy to make that I thought it would be fun to mix it with the little ones,  and have that become part of the sensory experience!  While we have made Glowing GOOP before, this time we were going to make it using the various glow waters. I was excited to see the results!

The last station was a Glowing Jello Dig.

To make glowing jello, simply use tonic water in place of regular water in the recipe.   I prepared 12 boxes of yellow jello, and used 12 cups of boiling tonic as well as 12 cups of cold tonic.  You can use any color jello to make glowing jello.  As long as you use tonic to prepare it, it should glow.

See all the messy fun the kids had here!

Keep in mind that you don't need to fill a whole room with black light in order to explore with it.  Prior to this play date,  Rosie and Jewel have been having a blast exploring with a single black light fixture.  We only paid $10 for it, and got it at our local Walmart.  You can recreate any of these activities on a smaller scale, and let your children explore more intimately as well.

More About the Author

Crystal Underwood is the writer and creator of Growing A Jeweled Rose. She has worked extensively with children and strongly believes in the importance of play at the core of early learning. She is passionate about the early years and believes that childhood should be a truly magical time in life. For all the best kids activities connect with Growing a Jeweled Rose below!