My kids and I love to play with balloons. Below are some ideas to prolong the fun.
Blowing up balloons
The blowing up process does not have to be merely a means to an end.
Blow and Release
When the kids were younger, they loved having me nearly pass out perpetually blowing up balloons for them to release and watch zoom around. If you feel like getting nerdy, tell them about Newton’s Laws of Motion as the air travels one way and the balloon the other. Support this thought by sitting them in something that easily rolls and have them throw a heavy pillow or such.
Then there’s pulling the nozzle sides to make the balloon squeal, which is a fun lesson in air vibration and sound.
Blow its Top
Draw a simple picture on an un-inflated balloon and watch it expand as you blow it up. You could have the kids feel the increasing firmness as the balloon grows. Then blow it until it pops in everyone’s face and freaks you all out. You may want to let them know it will happen, though you won’t know the exact moment. Who doesn’t love some controlled fright?
Of course, your mouth isn’t the only way to blow up a balloon. Put a balloon over the opening of an empty heat-safe container. I used a glass soda bottle that didn’t shatter. Set the container in some continuously boiling water and let the kids watch the balloon (partially) inflate as the hot air inside expands.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Squeeze some vinegar into a balloon and place some baking soda into a container (again I used a glass soda bottle). When you fasten the balloon over the container and the ingredients mix, the carbon dioxide (partially) fills the balloon. As a side project, have the kids compare the vinegar smell to the smell of the solution after the reaction.
Fill with substances
Then again, filling balloons with other things is fun too. Water, shaving cream, etc. Water with baking soda is fun because after a few days, the outside starts to get crusty, showing that the balloon has tiny holes in it. This may help the kids understand why their air balloons shrink over time.
Fill one with flour or cornstarch for a stress ball to squeeze or a “bean bag” to toss. Experiment with several things and decide the benefits and shortcomings of each and perhaps the differing tastes (preferences, that is) of the observers (tasting the difference of flour and cornstarch an alternative activity).
You could also wait until your air balloons deflate to fill them with new substances. This, of course, will likely require cutting the tied end and retying a slightly smaller balloon.
Playing with balloons
Playing catch with a balloon is great for the one and two year olds. For the older ones show them how different levels of inflation affect the drop speed. So, as not to confuse them about size and gravitational acceleration, show them how heavy balls of various sizes do not have such variable drop speeds. As your young catcher grows in competence and confidence, decrease the balloon size for faster throws.
If you grab an aluminum can and charge up the balloon via rubbing on hair or felt, you can make the can chase the balloon.
Our balloons almost always end by popping, so we try to extend the play with the recovered scraps. You can stretch a piece over a wide mouthed jar and secure with a rubber band for a quick drum or stretch them like rubber bands for a stringed instrument. Once those pieces tear into shreds too small for other things, wad them into a ball and wrap with rubber bands for a great bouncy ball.
What other balloon fun can you dream up?