Before you start, consider that the noise of balloons bursting can be distressing for some people, so either give them plenty of prior warning or remove them from the area while you play.
Also, please remember to look after the environment by disposing of the balloons properly after use and never let balloons go up into the air, as this can have a detrimental effect on nature – the opposite of what we should be teaching everyone.
Having said that, there is so much entertainment value in a packet of balloons; no matter the player’s age, everyone can have fun. Try the following games to get started.
Also, check out 101 Circle Time Games that Actually Work!
1. Keep it in the air
The title kind of gives it away, doesn’t it?
- Start this game in a large room or outdoor area with plenty of space.
- Ask everyone to find a space.
- Introduce one balloon at first. (Do not use a balloon inflated with helium, or it will drift away).
- The object is for all players to keep the balloon up in the air by tapping it upwards.
- Remind the players to tap gently.
- As one balloon is in play, add another balloon and then another to see how many balloons can stay in play before one hits the floor.
- You can time the game if you want to add more jeopardy.
This game encourages quick reactions, teamwork, and perseverance.
2. Over and under
For this game, everybody has to make two lines of equal numbers. It doesn’t matter how many people want to play – just divide the group into two and form two equal lines.
- Ask the teams to stand in a line, one behind the other.
- Give the first player on each team a balloon
- Explain that the balloon must be passed over the first player’s head, then between the legs of the player behind, then over the head of the player behind, and so on (Over and Under).
- When the balloon gets to the end of the line, the player at the back must race to the front.
- Shout, ready, steady…Go!
- The teams should race against one another until the player starting at the front of the line is again at the front.
- As soon as this happens, the whole team should sit down.
- The first line to sit down is the winning team.
This word game can be adapted depending on the players’ ability.
- Blow up about 20 balloons and use a marker to write letters on each balloon. Make sure you use both vowels and consonants.
- Divide the players into 2 teams.
- Explain that they must collect 10 balloons for their team when you say go.
- Shout go! and set a timer of 5 minutes.
- When the teams have 10 balloons each, they need to work together to make as many words as possible from the letters.
- Ask one player in each team to scribe the words that their team makes from the balloon letters.
- The winning team is the team with the most words at the end.
This is more difficult than you think because the team has to work together as balloons habitually drift away.
You can also adapt this game by adding more letters, or you could use the scrabble scoring system so that certain letters are worth more points.
You can use blends like bl, fr, gl, tr, ea, ee, th, ch, sh instead of single words on each balloon.
4. Balloon numbers
This is similar to the game above, but this is the number version.
- Blow up 21 balloons and write numbers 0 – 20 on them with a marker.
- Divide the players into teams and give each team a whiteboard, a flip chart, and a pen.
- Set your timer and say Ready, Steady Go!
- Ask the players to collect 4 balloons for their team.
- Ask one player from each team to be the scribe.
- How many sums can they make using their numbers before the time runs out?
- The winning team will have the highest number of correct sums.
You can adapt this game by keeping all the numbers under 10, or if you want to increase the challenge, you can use numbers beyond 20.
Depending on the players’ ability, you can ask for sums that use addition, or you increase the challenge and use subtraction, multiplication, or division.
5. Math hunt
This is a variation of the game above.
- Write some sums on whiteboards or flip charts with missing numbers: For example, 4+9 = 5 – ? = 11 or ? x 9 = 27
- Shout Ready, Steady … Go!
- Each team has to race against each other to find the balloon with the number on it that completes their sum.
- The winning team is the team that completes their sums first and gets them all right.
This game can also be adapted by changing the difficulty of the sums. It’s a great game for encouraging teamwork. The best part of this game is that even those who don’t like math join in and work out sums before you know it!
6. Bat the balloon
This memory game can be used to remember various things, but I like to use it to remember time tables. The idea is to bat the balloon back and forth to one another as often as possible without letting them drop to the floor, like balloon tennis.
- You need 2 players and one balloon.
- Each time you bat the balloon, a player should say a number in the sequence out loud, and the opposite player has to continue the number sequence.
- You can start by simply counting 1,2,3,4,5,6…
- Then try to count in odd numbers. 1,3,5,7,9…
- Then even numbers. 2,4,6,8,10….
- Then tens 10,20,30,40…..
- Then prime numbers…
Keep batting the balloon back and forth until you drop it, and then start from the beginning again. This is great for increasing the amount of physical activity we use, and because it is good fun, learning happens so easily.
Water balloons are a lot of fun, but they are best played outside. Use waterproofs if you have them, or choose a warm day for this game.
This game develops the physical skills of throwing with an accurate aim, and it can be adapted for various learning outcomes. Warning – You may get wet, and you will have fun!
- Fill each balloon with water and tie them tight to have a pile of water bombs.
- Use a piece of chalk to draw a large circle on the wall and divide the circle into quarters or eighths by drawing intersecting lines. Write a different number in each segment of the circle.
- Draw another line on the floor reasonably far from the target the players must stand behind to throw the water bombs.
- Ask everyone to line up.
- Give each child a number problem to work out. The answer should be one of the numbers on the wall.
- They should throw a water balloon as soon as they have worked it out.
- If they hit the right target number, they score a point.
You can adapt the difficulty of the number problems, for example, by asking for one more than… one less than.. double a number. Just adapt to whatever is suitable for your players. It’s a good game for focussing on aim, and the math will happen incidentally.
If you are enjoying these but would like more ideas, try the website below:
8. Pop! Bang! Whizz!
This is a great game for developing an understanding of the concept of time, but it can get very noisy when the balloons start to burst, so make sure it is appropriate for your players.
- You will need a timer like a sand timer or a stopwatch.
- Get everyone to help you blow up and tie the balloons and put them in the center of a space.
- Talk about how long it takes to blow up a balloon. Who can blow one up fastest?
- This is a good opportunity to talk about the air in a balloon and what happens when you let go of it or if it bursts.
- When all the balloons are ready, set the timer and tell the players that they must try and burst them before the time runs out.
- Let them stamp on the balloons until the time is up.
This is a surprisingly physical game and uses up a lot of energy.
9. Bag it up
This is best played indoors in a large space like a hall. Before you start, ask all the players to help you blow up a few packets of balloons until there are lots of different colored balloons in space. You can either blow them up with your breath or use a balloon pump.
- Divide the players into two teams.
- Give each team a similar-sized bin bag.
- Explain to each team that when you say Go! They need to collect all the balloons of a certain color and try and fit them into their bin bag.
- Call: Team 1 – pink and Team 2 – green (change the color depending on your balloons).
- The winning team is the first to find all their balloons and keep them in the bag.
This is great for developing teamwork and is brilliant physical exercise too. Keeping the balloons in the bag is difficult, so they must work together to stop them from escaping and floating away.
10. Balloon faces
When you have used the balloons for some of the games above, this is a nice way to reuse them.
- Ask everyone to sit in a circle.
- Give each child a felt tip pen and a balloon.
- Ask them to draw someone in the circle.
- Talk about the features on their face. Draw their attention to eyebrows, lashes, the shape of the nose, the type of hairstyle, any earrings, freckles, etc.
- When everyone has finished their face, can they guess who each face is?
11. Scrabble scramble
This takes a bit of extra preparation, but it’s worth it. This is a great game for learning spellings, but it can also be adapted in many other ways.
- As you blow up each balloon, put a few letters or scrabble tiles inside each one.
- Each balloon should have enough letters to make at least a 5-letter word.
- If you don’t have plastic tiles, you can still play this game with letters written on small rolled-up cards.
- When the balloons are ready, say Ready, Steady…. Go!
- Each player must try to burst a balloon and collect the mystery letters.
- When they have collected their letters, they should try and rearrange them into a word.
- Who can make the longest or best word with the letters they have found?
This can be adapted to all kinds of things, and it’s a lovely activity to use at the beginning of a topic or the end of a project. You could even put a few sweets inside your balloons to celebrate something.
I hope that’s given you lots of ideas to start having fun. If you want more ideas, try the website below: