When most people think of balloons, they think of a birthday party or a group celebration. However, balloons can also be a fun and valuable addition to a physical education class or as a solid brain break in the classroom. They can be used in a variety of games, activities, and challenges. Balloons are an inexpensive, disposable teaching tool that can be utilized in a variety of ways to enhance the learning experience. They're an excellent way to keep kids active and engaged while they learn several valuable skills.
*** Pic from from Mike Graham @pe4everykid
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best balloon activities and games that can be utilized in a PE class, recess, special event or as a classroom energizer. These challenges are perfect for any age group, and can help keep students engaged and learning during school hours or at home. Let's get started!
Why use balloons in PE?
Balloon games and activities can help liven up any learning setting, providing an easy way to teach various skills and concepts. There are a number of ways to use balloons, which can help improve children's manipulative skills such as striking, volleying, kicking, catching and throwing. Balloons may also help children improve their skill-related fitness components such as balance, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time. The slow descent of inflated balloons makes them perfect for skill-development with younger children and students with special needs. They are considered a very safe piece of equipment that will not hurt fingers or cause any other injuries.
How to use balloons in PE?
Balloons are a standard feature in games and activities for elementary physical education classes all across the nation. There are many different ways to incorporate balloons into a PE class.
Some balloon activities and games can be played individually, while others require students to work in pairs or teams. Balloons are also perfect for station and relay-type activities.
Older elementary students can use them in large group games (incorporating two or more teams) in a gym or outside playing area to use as items to balance, kick, strike, volley over a net, capture, toss and catch. You could also get your students' friends and family involved by having them share all the balloons activities at home. Gaining support from those outside your building is a sure way to get support for your PE program.
Do balloons help address PE standards?
Utilizing balloons in your classes and creating engaging activities help you meet SHAPE America's Standard 1 for students which states. The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.* The balloon movements and activities you select to use in your designated learning area will easily fulfill state, district, and school standards and requirements.
*** Pic from from Jimmy Grassano @CLESPhysEd
Ideas for using balloons in a PE Class, in the classroom, or for distance learning at home
These 30 balloon games and activities will get your students up and moving:
The following tasks and balloon games can be completed by having students practice alone, teaching each other, or working in groups at different stations.
1- Hand Volleys
Two-Hand Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air using both your hands. If it drops down low, use 1 hand to get it back up.
One-Hand Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air using either one of your hands. Try alternating from left to right hands.
Fingertip Volley- Tap the balloon up in the air using one finger at a time. Switch hands and switch fingers incorporating these balloon hits
Tap High/Tap Low- Alternate volleying the balloon from very high levels and very low levels. Jump up high and then reach down low.
Jump-Up Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air and when it hits mid-flight, jump up and volley it again. Keep repeating this motion.
2- Balloon Solo Challenges
Seated Volley- Sit down cross-legged or in a straddle position. Volley the balloon up in the air using your hands.
Lying Volley- Lie down on the ground on your back. Volley the balloon up in the air using your hands and feet.
Kick Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air using your feet. Try kicking with both your right and left leg.
Head Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air using only your head. If it drops down low use 1 hand to get it back up.
Soccer Volley- Volley the balloon up in the air using all soccer contact points. You can use your feet, head, chest and knees.
Trick Volley's- Tap the balloon under your leg and behind your back. Also, clap your hands and touch the ground between hits.
Head Balance Walk- Place the balloon on your forehead and keep it there by moving in and around your personal space.
3- Volley and Move
Walk and Volley- Walk around the room and volley the balloon up with your hands, head and feet while you move.
Balloon Jump- Put the balloon between your knees and jump around the room keeping the balloon in place.
Crab Walk and Kick- Move around the room by crab walking. Kick the balloon up in the air as you crab walk.
Locomotor Volley- Travel around the room and volley the balloon up in the air while you gallop, skip, slide step, hop, and jog.
Short Line Relays- Travel one at a time to volley or balance a balloon, and then return from the finish line to the starting line. The kids stand or perform fitness exercises while they wait.
Volley and Jumping Jack- Volley the balloon up in the air using all soccer contact points. You can use your feet, head, chest and knees.
*** Pic from from Joe McCarthy M.ED, @JoeMcCarthy09
4- Throw, toss and catch
Overhand Throw and Catch- Throw the balloon overhand out in front of you. Move towards the balloon and catch it before it hits the ground.
Stem Launch (Balloon Rockets)- Hold the balloon and pull the stem down. Let it go and shoot the balloon up in the air. Jump up and catch it.
Overhand Serve and Catch- Strike a balloon so it spins and flips in the air above your head. Move towards the balloon and catch it before it hits the ground.
Under Leg Toss and Catch- Toss a balloon up in the air from under one leg and catch it with both hands. Try switching legs.
Toss-Turn-Catch- Toss the balloon up in the air with 1 or 2 hands, turn around 1 complete revolution, and catch it in front of your body using one or both hands.
Toss-Touch-Catch- Toss the balloon up in the air with 1 or 2 hands, touch the ground, and catch it in front of your body using one or both hands.
Trick Catches- Toss or throw the balloon up and catch it under your leg, behind your back, and using your elbows or knees.
5- Partner and small group fun balloon games
Partner Volley- Volley the balloon back and forth with a partner using your hands with bumps, sets and one hand taps.
Balloon Tennis- Play balloon tennis by volleying a balloon back and forth with a partner using a paddle or racket.
Partner Line Volleyball- Indoor game: Find a gym line and play a game of volleyball across the line with a partner. The balloon must be hit up when it crosses the line. (1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2)
Group Volley (Keep it Up)- Volley the balloon up in the air with a small group. Try using bumps, sets and one hand taps. See how many times you can consecutively volley the balloon in the air.
Create a Move- With your body and one balloon, create a movement. Then, challenge a partner(s) to do the same move. Be creative while staying in your space and remaining safe with these fun games.
Through the Hoop- Three in a group: One person in the group holds a hula hoop at different heights while the other two people volley a balloon through it. The person holding the hoop can move it to help them succeed in the game!
Adding balloons to your physical education lessons or for when students need a brain break in a classroom can add an element of fun and challenge. In this blog post, we learned about different activities that can be done using only one balloon per student. Not only are these activities a great way for your students to stay active, but they're also fun! We also learned about some of the benefits of using balloons in physical activity. Balloons help improve hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and more. Finally, we looked at some partner and small group activities that can be done with all the kids using balloons. These activities are perfect for kids who want to have fun, learn skills, and get some exercise--all while being social!
I hope you found these balloon ideas helpful and inspiring! Please let me know which ones are your favorites in the comments section below.
Look for an upcoming blog post where I will highlight some other balloon games and activities (water balloons, ice balloons, a balloon dart board, etc.) that are perfect for any field day event.
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.
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