Who says that fun games need to be expensive!

If you have been looking for game ideas that are easy, fast, fun and of course, don't break the bank, then consider using balloons to create memorable games that the kids will have lots of fun playing. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and can be used inflated or as they are. The only limit is in your mind.

When most people think of balloon games, they think of a noisy popping game using a sharp object or lobbing a balloon filled with water on a hot summer afternoon. Both of these are great uses of balloons and they are loads of fun, but there is so much more you can do with balloons.

Here are some game ideas that you can use to add some excitement to your lesson or keep the children occupied during the closing activities.

NOTE: Next to each title, we have included a noise factor ranging from High to Low due to balloon popping. Games rated with a High Noise Activity may be better played outside or away from other classrooms—like the nursery or main sanctuary—where they could be disruptive.

Balloon Pop On A String
Balloon Basketball
Balloon Portraits
Balloon Hunt
Party Poppers

BALLOON POP ON A STRING (High Noise Activity)

A simple competition where teams compete to see which one can pop all of their balloons first.

PREPARATION: You will need at least one balloon per team member for each round being played. If you have a large class, we recommend a bicycle pump to blow them up—or a large group of teenagers with spare time on their hands—unless you have a really good set of lungs. Once you've inflated the balloons, tie them off and place them in a basket or tub.

Next, cut string or ribbon into 3-foot lengths. You will need one piece of string for each balloon. At one end, tie the balloon to the string, and at the other end, make a loop large enough for a child to put their foot through with a shoe on. Place all of the prepared balloons into large lawn-size trash bags or bins for storage until game time.

HOW TO PLAY: This is a simple team challenge and can take a few minutes or longer, depending on the time you want to spend. To start, divide the class into teams—or select competing teams if you have a larger class—and give each member of the team a balloon on a string. Instruct the children that they need to put the loop around one of their ankles and place the balloons on the floor.

At the signal, teams will all use their feet (and only their feet) to pop the balloons. No hands, knees or other body parts are allowed. The first team to pop all of their balloons wins the game.

NOTE: If you want to make the game last longer, use smaller teams each round of competition and then switch out players per team so that everyone gets at least one turn, but you don't have to waste too many balloons during the game.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: This game can be played just for fun, or you can tie it in as an object lesson. One possible topic is "Stomping on Sin" where the balloon represents the bad things that we do and how we don't want to be tied to them anymore. Another possible topic is Jesus' victory over the devil and death. He put Satan under our feet and in the end he will be de-FEET-ed!
(Sorry for that one, but I couldn't resist.)

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This is a game that the entire class can be a part of without getting out of their seats. The only noise factor to be concerned with is the sound of the children during this friendly competition. You will need 5 to 10 balloons and a laundry basket or bin for each team playing. We recommend at least 2 teams participate.

PREPARATION: Blow up the balloons that you need for each team and place them as a set into a large lawn-size trash bag for storage. You can use as many as 10 balloons or as few as 5 per team.

HOW TO PLAY: The easiest way to make teams for this game is divide the class down any aisles that you have in the chairs. The size of the sections is not as important as making sure that each section has the same number of rows and that there is someone in every row all the way to the back of the class. You may need to have some of the children move for the game, but once they have been placed in a seat, they will need to stay there during the entire game.

At the front of each section, you will need to designate a team leader for each team. This will be the person that gets the balloon moving in the relay. You will then need to place a laundry basket on the floor at the back of the classroom and have a leader in the back to verify that balloons have been passed into the basket. Once everyone is in position, explain to the children that each team will be racing to get all of their balloons into the basket as quickly as possible.

Only one balloon can be passed back at a time and each person can only touch the balloon one time, so teamwork is the most important thing. A balloon must stay in the air at all times. If it touches a chair or the floor, then it goes back to the front again and is started over. Everyone has to remain seated during the entire game. No one is allowed to chase after a balloon, however a child is allowed 'scoot' over one empty chair to the left or right if needed, as long as he or she doesn't get up.

Once the balloon reaches the back row, it must be put into the basket before the next balloon can start again in the front. The leader in the back will give the signal that the next balloon can be started in the front. This will help maintain order and prevent multiple balloons moving or false starts.

Each team will earn 1 point per balloon in the basket, and once a team has all of their balloons into the basket, the round is over. The team that wins the most rounds wins the game.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: The teamwork aspect of this game lends itself well to an object lesson topic. For example, you could explain that the balloon is like the word of God and each of us need to pass it along if we are going to see the blessings of God in our lives. Another topic could explain that each of us needs each other; no one makes it to greatness all on their own.

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BALLOON PORTRAITS (Low Noise Activity)

This group activity is a great team building exercise and can help children develop new friendships in a small group setting.

NOTE: This activity requires a moderate amount of time, so you will want to make sure it doesn't interfere with other class elements or your teaching time.

PREPARATION: The only real preparation and expense is to make sure that you have enough balloons and permanent markers for each group. You will need at least one balloon per person in the class and several markers for each group. You may also choose to inflate the balloons ahead of time or you may let the children do it on their own.

HOW TO PLAY: Break the class up into small groups and have them sit in circles on the floor. Give each child a balloon and place the markers in the center of each group. When everyone is in place, have the children use the markers to draw a portrait of the person directly across from them. It doesn't have to be perfect, but they should try their best. Once he or she has completed the portrait, they should pass the marker on to another person in the group who will do the same thing until everyone is done.

As the children are sitting there in their group, they should share a little about themselves. You could have each person share where they were born, how old they are and how many brothers and sisters they have, for starters. After that, have them share about their favorite hobbies, favorite movies and favorite TV shows. If possible, assign a leader to each group to act as a facilitator who can keep questions and portraits moving along.

Once all the portraits are done, it's time for show and tell, and a LOT of laughter. No one should have their feelings hurt, because it is all in good fun! Each child can take his or her own portrait home.

If you are keeping a photo album of class activities, this is a great one. Take a group shot of the class, each holding his or her balloon portrait, and you can even show it in the adult service to see how the children's ministry has 'doubled'.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: Although this is a great 'ice-breaker' exercise, there are also some good ways to make it tie back into your lesson. The activity shows how each is unique, different and special. It demonstrates that God is the real artist who can create things far better than we can. It also is a great way to show that there is more to us than just a skin filled with air (like the balloon) because each of us is more than we appear on the outside.

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BALLOONIMALS (Low Noise Warning)

Depending on your classroom situation, this activity can be played as teams, small groups or as pairs. The goal is collaboration with at least one other person to work together.

PREPARATION: Gather balloons of various colors, sizes and shapes and place an assortment into a sandwich bag along with a permanent marker. You will need one bag of supplies for each group or team of participants. If you'd like, you can also add colored pipe cleaners that can also be used to tie balloons together.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The markers must be permanent because any other kind of marker will not adhere to the balloon and will transfer to clothes or hands. You will need to warn the children that these markers are permanent and will not come out of clothes so they will need to be careful.

HOW TO PLAY: This activity is an exercise in creativity and allows children to work together with a small group to design and build a unique creation. Many of the children have seen balloon artists make animals out of balloons by twisting them together. This is their chance to see what they can make.

In this exercise, there is no right or wrong way to make the animals. It is an exercise in creativity and working together. Although this is not a timed exercise, you should put a time limit on the activity so that you have enough time for an 'Animal Showing' or create a 'Balloonimal Zoo' at the end where each team gets to show off their creation and tell a little story about it.

It is best to leave the animals on display as the children leave at the end of class so that no one is upset about not being able to take their animal home. There is also a good chance that most will not make it until then next class time, so you will want to take pictures of all of the animals and keep these instead.

Use the pictures to make a screen presentation, or use a word processor to create a printable sheet that shows all of the animals and short funny captions below. Let this be your own exercise in creativity and have fun creating the memories that the children can take home with them and treasure.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: Creativity is a gift from God and each of us is capable of creating new things if we use our imagination. This exercise ties well into the creation story where God created animals. It can also tie into a lesson about the heavenly creatures around the throne. Since the Bible only tells us a little about how they look, we can only imagine what they must look like.

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BALLOON HUNT (Low Noise Activity)

This scavenger hunt game requires a lot of space for children to move around and places where small balloons can be hidden.

PREPARATION: You will need a bag or two of small balloons like those used for water balloons. You will also need to decide how many teams that you want to have playing the game and determine a color for each team. Count out the balloons of each color for each team and make sure that each has the same number of balloons. Inflate them all and tie them off. You will then need to select one special colored balloon. There should be only one. This is the 'grand prize' balloon that all teams will be searching to find.

Before class, take the balloons and hide them around the play area. You can leave groups of balloons together of different colors, since teams will only be collecting their specific color. Make sure that you hide the grand prize balloon in a very special location.

You will also want to have a laundry basket or large trash bag ready for each team to hold the balloons that have been collected.

HOW TO PLAY: When you re ready to play, divide the class into teams and assign a color to them. At the signal, each team will have to collect all their balloons as fast as possible. Explain that there is also a grand prize balloon hidden somewhere in the area. This prize can be worth extra points for a team, or an extra piece of candy for each team member.

As the children search and collect their specific color, they need to bring them back and put them into the container (bag or basket) in order for them to count as collected. The first team to collect all of their balloons wins the game and the team that finds the 'grand prize' balloon wins the special prize.

NOTE: Balloons can pop and deflate on their own due to holes or hazards in the area. If a balloon pops or has popped, it still counts as a find as long as the pieces are put into the container with the rest of the balloons.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: The most obvious topic that this lesson shows is bringing the lost back to God. Each balloon is like a person lost in the world, and we are sent out to collect them and bring them to the church so that God can touch their lives.

The Grand Prize balloon represents God's riches that we only find when we look with all of our heart. Although the children think that the grand prize is only for the team that finds the special balloon, we recommend that you plan on giving each child the special prize. This helps demonstrate that God's blessings were never intended for us to keep to ourselves. God wants us to share them with others.

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PARTYPOPPERS (High Noise Activity)

Teams try to use their feet to pop as many balloons of their team s color as possible. This is definitely a game to be played outside or away from other classrooms where it could cause a distraction.

PREPARATION: You will need the same number of balloons of different colors. Each color will be assigned to a team to be popped during the competition. This game is a fun way to get rid of the balloons that you may have left after a game. Keep the balloons separated by color in large garbage bags until you are ready to play.

HOW TO PLAY: Depending on the size of you class, it may not be possible for all the children to participate. If this is the case, select a few children from each team (3 or 4) who will represent the team. Have the children stand to the side of a large open area. Bring in the bags of balloons and assign a color to each team, then dump all of the balloons on the floor and mix the colors together.

NOTE: You will want to make sure that the teams have the same number of balloons and that none popped before game time. If so, either pull a balloon from the other set or add one to make them even.

At the signal, the children will go into the area and try to pop all of their balloons while avoiding the other teams balloons. The first team to pop all their balloons wins the game.

LESSON CONNECTIONS: An easy lesson tie-in is 'focus'. When you are trying to pop a balloon, you have to really put out some effort. You can't do more than one at a time, or you get nowhere. This is how we should be with everything that we do. We should do it with all of our hearts until we are finished. We shouldn't give up or stop trying until the job is done.

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