5 Indoor Games for Kids That Use Balloons
Your kids love to toss their soccer ball down the stairs, watching as it ricochets off the walls. That is, until it smashes right through your china cabinet. Swap out that soccer ball for a balloon, and let your kids experiment with gravity in a less destructive way. Balloons are a great low-cost supply kids just can't seem to get enough of. Substituting a balloon for a ball puts a whole new twist on indoor games and activities for kids.
"A balloon is great to use in games because it can function like a ball but is more flexible and lighter in weight," say Amy Baez, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Playapy. Due to its unique physical characteristics, "the quality of the movement is different in the air because it's not as affected by gravity," Baez adds. This is beneficial because "its slow movements can even help to improve your little ones' timing and patience."
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Of course, whenever you let your children play with latex balloons, you should be careful that they don't put a balloon close to their mouths. In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends not allowing children under the age of 8 years to play with uninflated balloons.
Ready to get started? Here are 5 indoor games for kids using balloons:
- Balloon Catch
"Kids don't need fancy toys in order to have fun while playing. Actually, their creativity thrives when they are handed a big empty cardboard box or a balloon. The more problem solving they are exposed to, the more learning and experiencing there will be," explains Birute Efe, author of "Kids Activities with Homemade Toys" and creator of Playtivities. "Catching a balloon with a funnel is a fun, simple activity for kids," Efe adds. Here's how to play.
- Kitchen funnels (one per player)
Blow up one balloon per player. Each player tosses his or her balloon in the air and then must catch it in the mouth of their funnel, and then toss it in air again and catch it again, all without using their free hand. Each catch is worth 1 point. If the player uses their free hand or the balloon touches the ground, they start over at zero. The first player to get to 10 -- or 20 or 100 -- wins! The game may be modified to be easier for younger players. For instance, they get a certain amount of touches before losing their points or they can use both hands.
- Ping Pong
Your kids will love having permission to whack a balloon at each other -- luckily, getting hit with a balloon will illicit giggles instead of cries. "Grab a balloon, two paper plates and some popsicle sticks to create this fun indoor game. Balloon ping pong is a fun game for any kid!," says Kaysi Gardner, a mom of five young kids and the founder of Keeping it Simple crafts blog.
- Paper plates
- Large craft stick or paint stir stick
Securely tape the stick to the back of the paper plate to form a racket. Blow up the balloon and put a tape line on the ground to serve as a net. To play a formal game, let your kids hit the balloon back and forth across the "net." They may only hit it one time to get it across and if they miss or the balloon touches the ground, the other person scores a point. The first person to score 15 points wins. To play for fun, just let them hit the ball back and forth with their rackets -- no score keeping necessary.
- Balloon Hockey
This fun game from Kristi Delp, a parent educator and the creator of Creative Connections for Kids is sure to get your kids moving and spare your breakables from real hockey pucks! "Balloon hockey is a super simple game to make that gets the kids moving. It is perfect for a rainy day when the kids are stuck inside. Just a few items are needed for fun and invigorating play," explains Delp.
- Long cardboard tube from wrapping paper
- Piece of cardboard
- Packing tape
- Box or basket
Make a hockey stick using the full instructions found here. Set up two goals on opposite sides of the room and have each child try to get the balloon into their goal by hitting it with their hockey stick. Pick a number of goals to reach or set a timer and see who gets the most points in that time frame to determine a winner.
- Squeeze Ball
This unique game from Playapy is sure to create laughter and fun, all while working on developing those muscles.
Set up two goal lines on opposite sides of the room and flip a coin to see which player goes first. The players start in the middle of the room between the two goal lines. Each player gets into a crab walk position, with hands and feet on the floor and tummy facing up, while squeezing the balloon between their knees. Player 1 then tries to cross their goal line without dropping the balloon. If it is dropped, the other player gets to try. The first player to squeeze the balloon across the goal three times wins. To make it more challenging, have two balloons and have players racing against each other at the same time.
- Balloon Basketball
Playing balloon basketball is a great way for your kids to burn some energy, while saving your lamps! Gwendolyn Mulholland, founder of Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life says, "Playing with balloons helps ensure that things don't get broken or people don't get hurt. Plus, balloons are cheap and available at most dollar stores so there isn't a lot of cost involved."
Place a tape line on the floor and position a basket a few feet in front of the line. Have the kids stand behind the line and take turns tossing balloons at the basket. The first player to 10 points wins. Kids don't like to take turns? Set up 2 baskets, blow up 2 balloons and set a timer for 5 minutes. The player to get their balloon in their own basket the most times wins.
Want more activities? Try these 8 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids.
Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents and, of course, being a parent herself. Follow her on Twitter @SheAlsoWrites.