Welcome back to my week of, 3 ways to learn with at-home materials! Today we are getting out some balloons and having so much fun as we learn.
Hands on learning is very important for kids of all ages. When children are engaged in what they are doing, they learn those skills in a much deeper way. In fact, very young children can play with some very huge learning concepts (just like volume as we did yesterday in the kitchen sink!)
So playing with balloons is a wonderful way to reach our toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids as well. When we get out the balloons around here, all my kids like to get in on the fun.
Let’s get right to it …
3 Ways to Learn with Balloons
In our home it seems balloon fun comes many times a year. Once we celebrate a birthday, which we did yesterday for my Sammy, the balloons hang around for quite some time. This year, since we have baby Norah, we will need to be extra careful – balloons aren’t an ideal toy for very little ones of course.
But they are just so much fun to play with! I love to add in some extra learning as well. Here are three of our favourites.
Hang balloons from the ceiling and add letters
This idea is one we have done time and time (and time) again. We string up some balloons and tape them to the ceiling using masking tape or painters tape. We use nice long strips of tape so the balloons don’t get knocked down (some of my little ones are not overly gentle with this activity).
I then write letters on the balloons using permanent marker.
Next, I call out a letter and my little one goes and whacks that balloon. Often we use tennis rackets for some added fun. A fly swatter, or even just a hand would work just as well.
There are so many great variations for this game. I wrote an entire blog post about it a few years ago. If you want more ideas for this one suggestion, check out this post: Swat the ABC Balloons.
Keep it Up
Another classic! This one can be as simple or as complex as you like. We have had versions that have been so complicated we should have written rule books, and other versions that were easily played by my 16 month old.
Here’s the idea, don’t let the balloon touch the ground AND count your hits/touches/head bumps!
We like to play this version especially:
I start with the balloon and bump it into the air once to my partner, then he bumps it once to me. Then, I bump it in the air twice before passing it, and he bumps it twice before bumping it back. We try to see how high we can get as a team.
There is lots of learning that can be added to this game. Little ones can count their touches as they go, they are working on wonderful hand eye coordination, and they are crossing the midline (an amazingly important skill!)
I am not sure about your house, but in my home right now we are discovering some rather big feelings. We have been spending a lot of time unpacking these feelings and working on strategies to help us calm down when we are getting upset.
One skill that is very helpful for little ones to use is taking a deep breath and slowly letting it go. While this skill might seem easy, it is difficult for young children to learn. AND it is very difficult for them to use in the moment without lots of practice out of the moment.
This fun game practices this very skill. Start with a balloon on the ground and have your little one try to blow it to the other side of the room. This is harder than it looks!
Next, teach your little one to take a really big slow breath and release it strong and steady. Have him try to blow the balloon across the room again.
Your little one can count how many breaths it takes to get across the room and try to challenge himself to beat his score throughout the day.
This balloon activity practices breath control, gross motor skills (crawling after that balloon!), and numeracy skills as well (counting how many breaths and comparing if it is more or less than last time).
There you have them! 3 Fun ways to play and learn with balloons today! I hope you find one of them to be just perfect for you and your little ones.
Tomorrow we will be learning with any ball that has a bounce – be sure to come back to see our 3 ways to play and learn!
Thank you so much for reading friends. I hope you are staying healthy and keeping safe.
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