Balloon games are fantastic to get children cooperating, getting active and having fun. I have taught children between the ages of 3-5 for the last ten years, and I have always used balloon games regularly to get children working as a team and communicating in an exciting context.
The whole curriculum can be linked to fun games with balloons. As well as being fantastic for preschool or school, they are also great for playing at home, or for children’s parties. There is so much research that demonstrates the importance of social interaction for children. (Source)
Balloons games are one of the best ways of delivering this!
So what are the best balloon games for kids? Here are 30 excellent ideas:
Get the children to form into teams. About four in a team is the minimum, but it could be a few more.
The idea is that the teams all stand together. The simplest way of playing balloon tennis is that you start with one balloon, and the first child hits it up into the air. Then the other help each other just to keep the balloon up in the air and not hit the floor. It’s as simple as that!
This really gets them cooperating and communicating.
2. No Hands Balloon Tennis
This is the next step after getting good at balloon tennis.
You basically play the same game, but this time you can’t use your hands! You can use anything else though – arms, legs, feet or head being the obvious options.
I’d only play this one if they are pretty good at balloon tennis with hands. Just see how you get on.
3. Add The Balloons
This game starts just the same as balloon tennis. Get the children to stand in teams, and start by keeping one balloon up between them.
If they are doing well with this, the idea is you start to add more balloons!
Add a second balloon, and see if they can keep them both up at the same time. Then add a third, and a fourth, and just keep going! The more balloons the merrier, until it just becomes a complete shambles.
This game is great for adults, let alone children, and will normally end in hysterical laughter. Games like this are great for parties also. If you want to try out some other fantastic games for a range of situations, then why not try the greatest 40 parachute games for kids.
4. Name Shout
This one is back to a simpler style of game.
In this you get them to stand in a similar team as balloon tennis. One child throws a balloon up into the air, and says a child’s name. That child has to try to catch the balloon and say ‘thank you’. A great way of learning simple manners!
Repeat with each child throwing the balloon up, saying a name and that child saying ‘thank you.’
This game is great for eye contact. If you want to check out a whole load of fantastic eye contact games, then I would recommend reading this. It also gets the children used to each other’s names, and so is a super ice-breaker.
5. Name Shout Hit
This is basically the same idea as the last game, but instead of the chosen child catching the balloon, in this version of the game the child who’s name has been selected will hit the balloon instead. There is no need to say thank you this time, as there is not enough time to do that and do all the other parts of the game.
Basically the first child throws the balloon up, says a child’s name, and that child tries to hit it and say another child’s name. Repeat.
This is much trickier than the catching version, as you have much less thinking time.
6. Balloon Plate Pass
For this game you need a balloon and lots of paper plates. You need enough for one paper plate for each child.
I like to use superhero paper plates! These tap into the enthusiasm for superheroes that so many children have. However, these are not essential. Any plate will do the job.
Stand in a circle in your team. The simplest way of playing the game is that one child starts with the balloon balanced on their plate. They try to pass the game to the child next to them, and they balance it on their plate. The children continue to pass the balloons around the circle.
If they need to use a hand on top of the balloon to help balance it then that is fine. All of these games can be made easier or harder depending on how they are getting on. This game can also be done with a ball, and did you know I have written an article about the 30 best ball games for preschool.
7. Balloon Plate Tennis
The plates can also be used as simple racquets.
The advantage of using paper plates instead of tennis rackets or something similar, is the fact that it is pretty much impossible to get hurt with a paper plate. Is the hit their friend over the head – no problem!
The same is definitely not the case if they were hit with a tennis racket!
You can have a go of the balloon tennis again. Simply keep the balloon up, whacking it with the plate!
You can also try the other variations of balloon tennis using the plates…
8. Counting Tennis
Keeping the plates, this is a great game to practise rote counting. If you want to know any other ways of developing rote counting, then I really would recommend you check out the best 17 activities to practise rote counting ever.
If you’ve no idea what rote counting is, then why not check out – What Is Rote Counting?
Basically for counting tennis you need a team of people each with a plate. The first person hits the balloon and says ‘one!’ The next person hits it and says ‘two!’ And so on.
Keep going for as long as they can count for.
This is a similar game to the last one, but this time you count backwards.
Pick a number to start from based on what your children can already do. If they are just starting to count backwards then start from 5, but you could start from 10 or even 20.
The first person hits the balloon and says ‘5’. Then the next person who hits it says ‘4’. Keep going like this until you get to zero.
10. Numeral Tennis
This game works well with a team (or teams) of about four.
Have at least four balloons to go with each team. The idea is that you write a different number on each balloon. It is a good idea to write the same number twice, once on one side of the balloon, and once on the other side.
One person in each team is going to be the ‘feeder’. They are going to start by adding one balloon to the team, for example a balloon with the number six on.
The feeder hits the balloon and says ‘six’. Then someone else hits in and says ‘six’, and so on. You just hit and say the number.
The feeder will add another balloon to the air after a few seconds, and say what that number. Every ten seconds or so they will add another balloon to the mix. Children will be hitting the balloons and saying the numerals.
A really great coordination and teamwork game, with a bit of numeral recognition thrown in.
11. Whack The Word
There are several different ways of doing this ‘Whack The Word’ game.
For all of the versions, you first need to write some words on the balloons. These are preferably going to be words the children are currently at a point of learning. They could be high frequency words for example that they are beginning to sight reaad, or three letter CVCs that they are trying to sound out.
Now do one of the following things:
- Have a coconut shy. Balance or sit the balloons somewhere, for example on in three small buckets. Say a word, and throw something at it like a beanbag or spongeball
- Play a team game. In a group of 4-5, stand in a circle and hit a few balloons in the air. Every time you hit a balloon say the word. Try to keep them all in the air
- Have a goal. Put three balloons near the goal. Say one of the words, and then kick that balloon into the goal
12. Color Match
This is a simple and fun cooperation game. Give out some balloons that are at least four different colors (and maybe more colors).
Then say ‘ready, steady, go!’ Children try to find other children that have the same color balloon as them, and all stand together in a big team.
Great for eye contact, team-work and color recognition.
13. Bridge Ball Balloon
For this one, you need a team of at least four children, and it could be up to 6.
They all stand in a circle with their legs spread really wide. The feet of each child will be touching the feet of the child next to them. Every child should be making a upside down ‘v’ shape with their legs. These are the goals.
Have one balloon. The idea is that one child goes first. They try to throw or hit the balloon and score a ‘goal’ by getting it through someone’s legs. That person will try to stop them.
Whoever gets the balloon will shoot next. If you score a goal then keep your individual score.
14. Circle Pass
This is a really simple game for very young children. Have a balloon, and simply pass it round the circle!
One way of making it harder is you have one balloon going one way, and another balloon going round the circle the other way.
15. Feet Pass
This is a much harder version of the last game. This is really great fun, and children find it really amusing.
It is best in small groups of children, probably of about 6 to 8.
One child tries to pick up the balloon with their feet. They have to lean back for this, with their feet in the air!
They try to pass it to the next person, who will try to take it off them with their feet. Try to get it round the circle without using hands! In reality the odd bit of hand use is not a disaster!
16. Thief In The Night
This is a great game for early phonics. If you’re looking for some other brilliant circle games for preschool children, then you really should take a look at these.
All you need for this game is a balloon, and some kind of noisy instrument like bells, keys or a tambourine.
Pick one child to sit in the middle of the circle. They will have a balloon behind their back. That child will close their eyes and pretend to be asleep in the night.
Now the adult will give the instrument to someone in the circle at random. This is the ‘thief’. That person will sneak up on the child in the middle whilst holding the noisy instrument. There will normally be a few sound clues as to where abouts in the circle they’re coming from.
They pick up the balloon, take it back to where they are sitting, and then they hide both the instrument and the balloon behind their back. Then everyone puts their hands behind their backs, so it could be anyone!
Then the child wakes up and tries to guess who the thief is. They have three guesses.
This game is great for listening skills and also eye contact.
This is a simple structured sharing game.
Every child has one balloon. They stand up with it, and when you say ‘go’, they walk around the space holding the balloon.
Have two instruments. One is for ‘drop’, (e.g. a drum) and then other is for ‘pick up’ (e.g. a triangle).
As they walk around, hit the drum. The children put the balloons on the floor then keep on walking. A few moments later hit the triangle, and they all pick up another balloon (not their original one hopefully) and then carry on walking with it. Continue hitting the drum and the triangle, as they put down and pick up the balloons.
This is great for children that are really possessive and don’t want anyone else to touch any of their things.
The idea of this is to have two different colors of balloons, for example red and green.
Sit in a circle. One red balloon will get passed round the circle one way, and a green balloon the other way.
Have an instrument, for example a triangle. When you hit the triangle the balloons are going to change direction.
Make this game harder by introducing several more balloons, so you might have, for example, three green balloons going one way, and three red going the other.
19. Multi-Balloon Pass
This is a good teamwork game.
Have lots of children standing in a line. There will be a pile of balloons at one end of the line, and a big bag to put them in at the other end of the line.
The children pass the balloons down the line one at a time, and the person at the end puts them in the bag.
20. Time Challenge!
This is the more competitive version of the last game.
You basically either sit in a circle, or stand in a line again, with balloons at one end, and a bag at the other.
Have an egg-timer with a time limit – about 30 seconds is good for this.
Say ‘ready, steady, go!’ They have to get all the balloons down the line (or round the circle) and into the bag in the 30 seconds.
21.Make Balloon People
Now for a bit of art…
Children love turning the balloons into heads of people or characters. They can:
- Draw on them with pens
- Stick things on
- Give them names
- Stick clothes on
This does involve bursting balloons which can be unbelievably exciting for some children. Some, may potentially find the noise a bit stressful also, so prepare them for what’s about to happen.
Basically, before you blow the balloon up, you put something inside it. It could be some sounds, or some numbers, or maybe a secret picture.
Blow the balloon up, and then when you burst it together, the magical hidden thing will appear!
23.Balloon And Spoon Race
A simple way of doing this activity is to use paper plates again. The children balance the balloons on the plates and then try to either walk (or maybe run!).
You could do a non-competitive version, or you could have a race!
There are different ways you can do relays.
It could be a straight ‘run with the balloon’ race. The children could be in teams, and run to a designated point and then back. They pass the balloon to the next person and they go.
You could also do relays in the following ways:
- bouncing balloons up in the air as you walk
- using paper plates to hold the balloons
- Holding two balloons each!
25.Balloon Between The Legs
You can have great fun with this one, and its perfect for a party game.
You quite simply get children to hold the balloons between their knees and try to walk with them.
The next step is to have some kind of race, but start with just walking round. They really do find that enjoyable enough by itself!
26. Whack The Sounds!
Write some letters on balloons using pens. There are different games you can do. These include:
- Make three letter words with the balloons, and then hit them as you sound the word out, for example ‘p-o-p. Pop!’
- Make a team circle and hit different balloons up into the air as you say the letter of each as you hit it.
Balloons are great for simple football skills. Because they move so much more slowly than proper footballs, they are excellent for attempting things like ‘keep-ups’ or passes to friends.
Some games you can play are:
- In a group try to keep the balloon off the ground by only kicking it between you
- Try to kick the ball up into the air to yourself, and then keep kicking it up
- Just have a general wander and kick-about, with one balloon per child
28.Treasure Map Hide
This is another game where you will have to pop one balloon, so prepare them!
The main idea is that you hide some kind of treasure map inside the balloon! This really is so exciting.
When the balloon bursts out comes the treasure map folded up really small. To make this really come to life you can:
- First have a message from pirates that they have left a real life treasure map in the balloon
- Have something that they can find already hidden somewhere and a clue given on the map
- Find the balloon after several other clues have led there in a kind of treasure hunt
29.Easter Egg Balloons
This is another art and craft idea.
It is great for mark-making and for reluctant children in particular.
Use multicolored pens to create different patterns, lines, circles, zigzags and swirls.
30.Time Limit Whack
This is a group challenge.
The idea is that you stand in a circle, and use a time limit. A time of about 30 seconds or even less would be perfect for this.
Turn over the egg timer and then the idea is to keep the balloon in the air between your team for that time without letting it hit the floor.
Balloons can be used to develop skills across the whole curriculum. They are particularly brilliant for developing teamwork.
Balloons games often offer multiple skills in one game, despite being such a simple and cheap resource. If you’ve found any of these useful, then you might also like the following articles: