An Odd Squad Birthday
It’s hard to believe we have a six-year-old on our hands!
Valor requested an Odd Squad-themed birthday this year, which was a challenge because Odd Squad is a pretty new show on PBS and there are not a lot of ideas out there on Pinterest or the rest of the internet for the theme, yet. It was a fun choice, though, because the show is full of great in-jokes and recurring bad guys. I compare it to Doctor Who for kids. Not-too-scary villains try to mess up the cosmic order of the universe, and endearingly nerdy Odd Squad agents make things right using crazy gadgets and educational math strategies. I also love the strong female characters in the show. So here is what we did with it.
Some of the kids did not know the show, so we started the party by letting them watch an episode that introduced several of the elements we used: “The O Games.” Then we set up the scenario: Odd Todd (a villain) has decreed that Valor cannot turn 6, but must stay odd forever—unless the agents at the party can complete certain tasks.
The first task was to collect three fuzzy pink centigurps, and get them back to the lab from which they had escaped. (My talented friend Margaret made the centigurps from pink yarn and a pom-pom maker tool.) This is done by carrying one centigurp at a time on top of the head through a winding, twisting path that John taped onto the floor with masking tape. Each kid (at least the older ones) had to repeat this process with 3 centigurps and get them into a bucket at one of the bedroom doors marked Centigurp Lab.
The second task was to go to the Math Room. On the show, the origami-folded chooser represents the sentient consciousness of the Math Room, which is where agents go to receive help on math problems. To represent this, Margaret, Valor and I folded choosers and put them all over the walls of the Math Room.
In the Math Room our guests learned to fold and use a marvelous Odd Squad chooser that John designed. Its outcome tells you which Odd Squad character you are most like! First, choose one of the outer flap options–a location in Odd Squad Headquarters. After you choose a room, you look at its icon and count the number of sides on the shape. Then you do the chooser-chomping motion that number of times. At that point, looking at the center of the chooser, you either pick which food you like (or if you hate pie) or which emotion you usually display. The answer you will unfold is which Odd Squad character you are most like. Kids who knew the show’s characters really enjoyed this.
The third task was to get through the laser beam security in the hallway without touching a laser. This was yarn taped in a zig-zag pattern across a hallway. The kids loved this, but I did not get a great picture (you can see the centigurp collection bucket in the background).
The final challenge was the Princess Room. Odd Squad’s most dangerous villains are Robot Princesses, who fire killer lasers at you while saying innocuous girly things like “Let’s have a tea party!” and “Can I fix your hair?” and “La la la la la…” They are vaguely steampunk, with goggles and big wigs. I made mine out of OJ containers covered in duct tape, with washer eyes. It was fun to make them dresses and princess hair.
The kids had to neutralize the Robot Princesses by throwing rings around their necks. John actually cut the rings from a big PVC pipe. We did not have a budget for lasers, but we did record a soundtrack of my voice (distorted) saying prissy things, interspersed with laser sound effects. This playlist shuffled continuously in the back of the Princess room, out of view. The kids loved the princess game and played it over and over!
The agents did a great job completing their tasks and Valor was allowed to turn six! I decorated his cake to look like the Odd Squad jackalope seal. Instead of the recursive picture in the shield, I just put a 6.
Favor bags were manila envelopes with “Top Secret” stamped on them (thanks, Margaret!) and each agent’s name, written by Valor. Each agent took home a centigurp, an Odd Squad notebook (John made stickers out of the seal for me), an alphabet stencil ruler, an alien pencil, and Smarties.
So that was our Odd Squad themed party. Somewhat crafty, not too expensive, best for ages 3-8, I would say. Now what am I going to do with those leftover Robot Princesses?
John and I will always remember how God turned our mourning into dancing with the healthy arrival of Valor almost exactly a year after we lost James. Another highlight of Valor’s birthday was the fact that we had two grandmothers at the party. We are planning to visit the Florida grandparents next week.
Thinking about Odd Squad, and Doctor Who, and so many other things we enjoy and call entertainment, I’ve been thinking about how much of them revolves around enormous problems that people strive to solve in order to save the human race. We love the drama of being in danger, the exhilaration of the learning process, and the satisfaction of the solution found and the catastrophe averted. But God knew our biggest problem was one we could not solve ourselves. Our disobedience and self-worship make it impossible to please Him, yet a relationship with Him is the only thing that can fulfill our deepest longings. Without Him we are helpless and hopeless. Thankfully God sent Jesus to live perfectly and die sacrificially in our place so we could know forgiveness and adoption. And that solution truly can save all those who admit that they need Him, and believe.
Please pray for Valor, that he could be able to see that he can’t solve his biggest problem himself, and for us, that we continually point Valor to the cross as the solution.