Celebrate Derby at Home with the Kids

Apr 28, 2021 | Derby, Family

LaVergne Helton of Jeffersonville, Indiana, spent the afternoon racing horses with her grandkids, Roman Fritz, 7, of Louisville; and Navy Madison Jones, 6, and Knight Jones, 5, of Jeffersonville.  Submitted photo.

“And they’re off! First around the bend is the dapper Roman Fritz on DayStar, followed closely by the giggles and pattering feet of Navy Madison on Skipper, just a nose ahead of rambunctious Knight on Hello Little Bit…”

With space limited at the track again this year to allow for social distancing, your day at the races may be like LaVergne Helton’s, refereeing a hotly contested stickhorse race between her grandkids from a lawn chair in her
own backyard.

Here are some ideas on how to turn your Derby Day into some festive fun with the kiddos in your life:

Make Your Own Stick Horse

LaVergne of Jeffersonville, Indiana, says she created a horse pattern out of lightweight cardstock, and the children used it to twice trace the side profile of a horse on to the paper color of their choice.

“They needed help with tracing and cutting since it’s best if both sides are cut together so they match,” she  said.

Once cut, keeping both pieces together, they punched holes to tie yarn onto the horses for the mane. They drew eyes and nose holes on each side, then stapled around the edges, keeping the bottom open to stuff plastic bags inside. They added a long ruler or paint stick and glued one end inside the neck of the horse, then stapled the opening closed.

“Each child named their own horse. I was surprised at how creative they were in choosing their horses’ names,” LaVergne says. “Knight (the youngest) came up with Hello Little Bit. He was only 3 at the time. I think he had to repeat it 20 times before we understood what he was saying.”

No Bake Horse Cookies from Savory Experiments.

Create No-Bake Horse Cookies

No Bake Horse Cookies, the creation of Jessica Formicola of Savory Experiments, are a perfect treat to make with children for a Kentucky Derby party. All you need are a few simple, store-bought ingredients and a little bit of time. 

To create these horse cookies, you need Milano cookies, or any other oblong cookie with a plain shell, mini Nilla wafers, a Tootsie Roll, candy eyes, licorice strings, frosting and an edible pen. Using kitchen shears, snip a Tootsie Roll into triangle shapes for the ears, and a pastry bag and star tip can  provide a tuft of horse hair.

From left, a Seek & Find puzzle availabe from the Kentucky Derby Museum, and a Derby Trivia sheet, and horse-related books available at the Louisville Free Public Library: D Is for Derby: A Kentucy Derby Alphabet by Helen L. Wilbur and Illustrator Jai Corum; American Pharoah: Triple Crown Champion by Shelley Fraser  Mickle; and A Horse Named Jack by Linda Vander Heyde and Illustrator Petra Brown.

Be Artistic and Learn Trivia

The Kentucky Derby Museum offers fun activity sheets for children. You’ll find a coloring sheet featuring the likeness of Hot Foot Fred, who hangs out on the Museum’s second floor, a Seek & Find puzzle, and a Derby Trivia sheet.

Read Derby Books

If your children like to read or like to be read to, here are just a few books the Louisville Free Public Library offers: D Is for Derby: A Kentucy Derby Alphabet by Helen L. Wilbur and Illustrator Jai Corum; American Pharoah: Triple Crown Champion by Shelley Fraser  Mickle; and A Horse Named Jack by Linda Vander Heyde and Illustrator Petra Brown.

P.S. Grab your kids and take our Derby “Did You Know?” quiz together!

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