Go to the Transit Museum:
You can take a small group to the transit museum w/o doing the Transit Museum birthday party. That's what people used to do before the whole birthday party thing got out of control.
This was a party held at the Transit Museum, but you could steal some of the ideas: http://celebratethebigsmall.blogspot.com/2011/05/party-time-subway-party.html
Got plates, napkins and cups from the transit museum with subway maps on them.
Play Travel Themed Games:
TIP: Remember, each activity is good for about ten - 15 minutes MAX, then kids are ready to move on.
We did something similar - my son just turned 4. We played local local express (duck duck goose), pin the number/letter on the train (made the front of a train and kids had different train circles), and "the manhattan bridge is falling down" (london bridge) - the kids made a train and chugged under, got tickled if the bridge fell on them. At that age they didn't question the fact trains don't go under the bridges! I got subway map cups and plates at the museum store at Grand Central.
You could have them play musical chairs but with a twist. they all sit down and then a pregnant woman walks in and the first one to stand up gets the prize. or see how many of them can cram into a closet with one of them having bad gas or having not showered.
We always played musical chairs with one fewer seat than children, but didn't take any more chairs away - and called it "Subway". You can enhance this by doing the classic "ding-dong" alarm of the doors closing as a signal for kids to jump up and begin the music again.
Or they can just stand around and wait for something to happen. They can wait and wait without any announcements about what is going on. Or the announcement can be really garbled - if they can decipher it, they get a prize.
Musical chairs is actually good and apropos
Pin the hat on the conductor
What about pin the [insert subway-themed object] on the [insert second subway-themed object] like pin the subway on the map or...
A subway version of a twister game
pin different train lines to a map (like pin the tail on the donkey).
Depending on space, you could do an obstacle course with a subway theme (a tunnel, a staircase, a bridge, etc). Or a relay race where each handoff is a "transfer" from one line to another?
Subway bingo (red 1, yellow R, etc.)
Or check this link for some other ideas:
http://momfilter. com/birthdays/ birthday- party-ideas- subway-theme
There's a wonderful "disentangle" game, you can use ribbons in the colors of the subway line. Use a black marker to label each end with the subway letter/number.
Get a subway map handed out free from MTA or the library, hang it on the wall. Print out pictures of subway cars on labels, and write each kid's name on the label. Then blindfold, spin, and "Pin the subway on the system map". (we always played pin something on something, in such a way that no one lost.) - be ready to play 2 rounds, kids love this.
Don't forget to make a train parade! Hold onto the kid ahead by shoulders or waist, chug around the house going "ch-ch-ch-ch". Have an adult leading the serpentine chain in interesting patterns. They will absolutely love this. (we always fit in a parade, usually with percussion instruments and kazoos)
musical subway cars- I drew track on colored pieces of construction paper and used those on the floor instead of chairs (the kids were the subway cars).
Pin the subway car on the our stop on the subway map- got a subway map, circled and put a star on our stop (union st on the R) and then I went on line to google images and printed and cut out small pictures of a subway car.
Pass the parcel- prize at the end of the package once it was unwrapped was a toy subway car.
Pinata- I bought a train shaped pinata from a party store.
Or you could make a pinata train - the type with a little trap door in the bottom with a bunch of strings/ribbons attached (the hitting type isn't so good for little ones or indoor settings), the kids each pull a string and one of them opens the little door and you could have train related stuff come out. Could use a painted box and hang from a doorway.
If you can get your hands on some large cardboard boxes, you could have the kids decorate them to make their own subway cars and link them into a train...
Party Goodies/ Party Favors:
Get Plain white t shirts from discount store, hand paint with fabric paints or marker the subway letters & numbers on proper color circles. Give these out when kids arrive.
Gave every kid a magnet with either their home line or first letter of their names for party gifts.
Maybe you could get a few transportation-related things at the transit museum for favors.
I like to have kids do a craft project. Maybe draw an outline of a subway car on a letter-size sheet of paper, and photocopy enough for each kid. They could each draw their own name big and colorful on their car, or just color their car, and you can hang them all up as a long train and take pictures to email to their parents, so they can each have the whole train.
Maybe a version of metro card art would be fun?!
Someone posted awhile back including photos (and sources) of their subway themed, child's party on PSP. Have you searched the archives?
PureWow.com recently posted about an artist who creates using expired metro cards. Here's the link:
My daughter received this book "Subway" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0061577790), which is not only a fun read but could provide some creative inspiration for your party.
Maybe you could make some game out of all the numbers & letters for the various lines.
Cheeky monkey is a local company that does kids party games, favors, etc...they may be able to help.
And you could read a book about the subways as another activity (our fave is Subway by christoff niemann).
Lulus has some or had some little wood train cars that kids can paint...make a thomas train cake. I can send you pics of mine. put tracks out and let the kids build.
I went on Google images and printed out images of station signs, the subway letters/numbers, etc. and hung them up around the living room.
Also from Google images, I printed images of the subway lines (colored circle with letter or number), cut them out and then glued them to party hats in the primary colors
I did the same and glued the subway symbols to paper bags to collect the pinata loot.
For the party favor bags, I printed out tags that said "L is 4" (my son's name is Luke); and the L and 4 were the subway symbols for those lines.
Subway cake: make a sheet cake, cut it in half the long way and make it a layer cake. Use Oreo Cookies for wheels, draw windows and doors. Grey frosting...
I made a pound cake in a loaf pan, trimmed it a bit, and then frosted it and decorated it to make it look like the "4" train (grey frosting, white for windows, green circle for the 4, and black outlines for the doors, etc. I used one of his toy subway cars as a model.
Cupcakes were green 4 train circles.
Since we had quite a few people, I also made cupcakes, frosted them the primary colors and then used white chips or chocolate chips upside down (pointy side down) to spell out the subway numbers or letters
Drew the map on the cake with different color frosting.
Go to the Transit Museum: