A nice way to get students re-energized, have fun and build critical foundation skills all at the same time is by introducing a simple balloon. Before you roll your eyes and click to a new site, consider what can happen with this inexpensive object when structured the right way.
- Visual attention and visual tracking are activated-important for paying attention, reading and math.
- Using two hands to bop the balloon requires bilateral integration. Both sides of the brain are activated.
- Visual and bilateral work increases neurological organization. A more organized brain thinks and learns better!
- Movement is a general arousal and organizing stimulus.
- Team building and sense of cooperation is fostered.
- The students will have fun and be delighted that you have new tricks to share!
- Delineate a specific area for each person or pair of students to stay in.
- Keep the activity to no more than 10 minutes, less time for younger children.
- Here are some ways to jazz up the activity:
- Say the name of the student before or while passing the balloon to him or her.
- Add counting how many times the balloon gets bopped before it touches the floor.
- Older students can be required to count by 10’s, etc.
- Add another cognitive component. For example- bop the ball to someone wearing red; name begins with the letter A, etc.
- Foreign language classes can do this- try having each student bop the balloon and count in the language being taught-much more difficult than rote counting!
- Determine the age abilities and structure the activity to correspond. Here are a few suggestions:
1-3 years: Adult directly passes the balloon to each child. It may be handed over or gently tossed depending on the child’s ability.
3-4 years: Simple bopping can occur. Try a simple circle for the children to bop the balloon to each other. Make pairs and help them practice giving it back and forth.
4-6 years: Simple lines with partners facing each other and bopping back and forth.
6+ years: Add challenges such as counting how many times the balloon can be relayed back and forth without falling on the floor. Always make it a team effort between pairs so they work to keep the balloon in control-the more they are able to feed the balloon back and forth the better they do. If you want to be ambitious you can have older students attempt to travel while keeping the balloon up in the air, much as you would in a relay race.
Where to buy inexpensive balloons: Any discount pharmacy, grocery store (in the party section) or any box type store that sells everything. I bought mine at a chain drug store for $2 a year ago. I still have some left.