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Guide to Games & Activities with Balloons
for fun, team building, & experiential learning

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Why Balloon Activities?

  • Balloons - in one form or another - have fascinated human beings for centuries.
  • Balloons are incredibly forgiving and help in building people's confidence. 
  • Balloons are fun, portable, and inexpensive.
  • Balloons add suspense to the atmosphere - there is a healthy sense of prolonged hope when playing with balloons!

 

 
 

Conducting Balloon Activities

Balloon games can be used as party games, fun fillers, energizers, icebreakers, or for longer trust-building, team building, and therapeutic sessions.  Create a unique sequence for your group, using these 40 balloon game descriptions as a guide.

  • Time: 5 mins to 1 hour
  • Location: Preferably inside.  Balloons are susceptible to even the slightest wind which can be frustrating.  Plus, there are fewer accidental balloon bursts inside.
  • Equipment: Ideally, start with 2 to 3 assorted round 9 to 12 inch (medium to large) round latex balloons per person (deflated).  The actual number needed depends on group size, the specific activity, and whether it  involves bursting balloons.  Sports equipment, permanent markers, and slips of paper are optional.  To purchase the ideal balloons in bulk, see Balloon Activities Kit.
  • Hygiene: Only one person inflates each balloon.
  • Hyperventilation: Can occur following quick, deep breaths from the top of the chest when blowing up balloons, leading to a lack of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) in the blood.  Symptoms include lightheadedness.  Encourage anyone experiencing this to sit down and to breath slowly.
  • Environmental: Latex balloons are biodegradable (at the same rate as an Oak leaf).  Latex is a natural substance, produced from the milky sap of the rubber tree.  To learn more about environmental aspects, see Balloon Industry Links.
 
 

 

BALLOON ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION
Balloon History Balloons - in one form or another - have fascinated human beings for centuries. Ask participants to guess who invented the modern balloon and when it was invented (Answer: In the mid-1800s by Michael Faraday).  However, it wasn't until 1931 that there was mass production of modern-day blow-up-by-yourself colored latex balloons.  To learn more about balloon history, see Balloon Industry Links.
Balloon Inflation Each person blows up a balloon.  Balloons work best for games at about 85% of inflation capacity.  Keen participants often over-inflate which leads to higher burstage.  Less confident participants may under-inflate. You can turn the ideal inflation into a game and demonstration. Show the ideal inflation and walk around coaching people. 85% inflation also allows a handy distance for tying a thumb-knot in the neck of the balloon.  Some participants may need a hand to tie the balloon off - encourage cooperation amongst participants rather than doing it yourself.
Balloon Juggle & Sort Challenge participants to keep all balloons (1+ per person) in the air.  This gets the group moving and cooperating. Once they've got the hang of it, make it harder by adding in more balloons or placing restrictions e.g., no hands to keep balloons up.  Ask participants to keep juggling the balloons, but to sort them into colors (works best with large groups).
Balloon Frantic Two to three inflated balloons per person are needed and a stopwatch.  Each person has a balloon, with the rest in a nearby pile.  Everyone begins bouncing their balloons in the air.  Every five seconds, another balloon is added.  See how long the group can keep the balloons bouncing before receiving six penalties.  A penalty is announced loudly (to create stress!) by the leader when a balloon hits the floor, or once on the floor, if is not got back into play within five seconds.  The leader keeps a cumulative score by shouting out "one", "two", etc.  When the leader gets to "six", time is stopped.  After some discussion, the group tries to better its record with another attempt.
Catch the Balloon A handy name game.  Stand in a circle.  Toss a balloon in the air and call someone's name.  That person must catch the balloon before it touches the ground.  If the person succeeds he/she then tosses the balloon up and calls the next name.  A variation of Group Juggle.
Balloon Bop An extension of Catch the Balloon. Now the balloon is not caught, but kept in the air.  As well as calling out someone's name, also call out a body part which that person has to use to keep the balloon in the air until he/she calls another person's name and body part.
Balloon Blow Divide into teams.  Each team stands in a small circle.  See which team can keep a balloon aloft the longest using only breath.  Watch out for hyperventilation!
Balloon Help Start off with everyone in a circle, facing inwards, hands behind back.  The objective is for everyone to be in the center keeping all balloons afloat.  Put between zero and three balloons in people's hands behind their backs.  Participants should not let on to others how many they have.  The leader starts by trying to keep three balloons afloat in the center.  When it becomes difficult, the leader calls somebody's name and says "X, I need your help!".  That person comes in with all their balloons and helps until it becomes difficult and then they call "Y, I need your help!".  If a balloon falls on the ground, it must be picked up by someone in the center and kept afloat.
Balloon Finger Balance Try balancing a balloon on the end of your finger.  Have a competition to see who can do it for the longest.  The balloon must not be held, only balanced, and it must not be tapped.  The finger must be in direct contact with the balloon at all times.  Good for focus, concentration and physical movement.
Balloon Ball Games Ball sports take on a new dimension when a balloon is used instead, e.g., get people into pairs, 1 balloon between them.  Get them to play a series of 1 on 1 sports e.g., soccer, volleyball, table tennis, etc. - add equipment if you want, but without equipment people will improvise wonderfully.  On a soft surface there can be dramatic diving.  Variation: Ask participants to play some points in slow-motion.
More Balloon Games & Activities 30 more balloon activities are described in the Balloon Activities Kit, including:
  • Balloon Pairs Volleyball
  • Balloon Group Volleyball
  • Balloon Basketball
  • Balloon Worm
  • Balloon Juggle Tag
  • Balloon Pairs Bounce
  • Balloon Pairs Lower
  • Balloons on the Wall
  • Balloon Magic
  • Balloon Cacophony
  • Balloon Crazy Catch
  • Balloon Double Challenge
  • Balloon Holding Challenge
  • Balloon Globe Drawing
  • Balloon Support
  • Balloon Balance
  • Balloon Messages
  • Balloon Questions
  • Balloon Portraits
  • Balloon Under/Over Relay
  • Balloon Pass
  • Balloon Switch
  • Balloon Burst Tag
  • Balloon Burst Race
  • Balloon Pop Relay
  • Balloon Chair Pop Relay
  • Balloon Fears Burst
  • Fire in The Hole
  • Burst Balloon Pickup
  • Balloon Give-away
Balloon Industry Links