10 Ways to Use Balloons with Children and Families

Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay

One of my favorite things is to come up with creative, fun resources for therapists to use with children and families in sessions that don’t break the bank. Today we are going to go through a list of 10 ways to use balloons with children and families because balloons are accessible, affordable and provide so many options for playful connective activities in the therapy office. To me, when balloons are inflated they represent the lighter side of life, hope, fun and pleasure. They also can pop, eliciting disappointment which is so much like life. The often heard phrase, “Don’t pop my balloon!”  speaks to the universal desire to hold onto the joys in life and not allow them to escape or be taken away.

As you will see below, you can keep packs of balloons on hand and use them in so many ways to create therapeutic experiences through balloon activities for children and families that facilitate connecting conversations, invite discussion about emotional awareness and provide bonding. (There are some affiliate partner links below which lead to opportunities to purchase materials and yield a small commission for our company but please just enjoy the tips and buy materials from wherever is best for YOU). 

10 Ways to Use Balloons with Children and Families

  1. Feeling Faces. Using a collection of multi colored Sharpie Pens you can easily create a variety of emotion expressions on inflated balloons to help children and families identify and express what it is they are feeling during sessions.
  2. Balloon Tennis.  One of my favorite fun family activities is to inflate a balloon and hand out fly swatters to family members. I create lines on the office floor with painter’s tape and challenge the family to keep the balloon up in the air, volleying it back and forth. This game is lots of fun, creating connection with laughter and cooperative effort.
  3. Balloon Stress Balls. This article walks you through a simple process of creating squishy stress balls which can be used for self-stemming with clients who have autism or ADHD OR can be used to help family members self-soothe before habitually arguing or attacking.
  4. Water Balloon Fun. If you’re fortunate enough to have an outdoor area at your office, this activity can be loads of fun for families who need to remember how to have fun and let themselves get messy. Tell the family ahead of time to bring towels from home and wear play clothes that can get wet. The suspenseful anticipation will be therapeutic all on its own! Prepare  buckets of water balloons and challenge the family members to pair up and before the timer goes off, partners have to toss as many water balloons to one another as they can without crossing the line you provide on the ground.
  5. Family Story-building with a Balloon. Inflate a balloon fully and using a Sharpie write words all over it such as, DOG, BOAT,  BOY, GIRL, BANANA, JUMPED, FLEW, SWAM, RAN, SAD, GLAD, MAD, CURIOUS and then have family members pass the balloon to one another. Wherever their thumb lands is the word they have to build into the cooperative family story.
  6. Balloon Soccer. With a “no-hands” rule you can facilitate a fun team experience for family members to work together and against the clock to get as many balloons from one side of the room to the other into a laundry basket as the goal.
  7. Glow in the Dark Balloons. I got this idea while a guest at a high school military ball recently. Activate and insert glow sticks and then turn off the office lights and have a game of volley-balloon in the dark.
  8. Wacky Balloon Game. When you insert a regular size glass marble inside a balloon and then inflate it will cause the balloon to move in all sorts of unexpected ways and directions as you wack it around the room. Challenge the child or the whole family to keep the balloon from touching the floor, furniture or walls. As the balloon moves in wacky ways it will most definitely elicit connective giggling!
  9. Play Dough® Filled Squishy Balloon Feeling Faces. You can use good ole Play Dough® ,a pack of balloons and a Sharpie to create feeling faces your client can use to identify emotions and squeeze for self soothing. This article shows you how.
  10. Balloon Swords. video tutorialEvery play therapist knows you have to have swords in the play room! But you don’t want anyone getting hurt. So, how about making swords out of balloons? Here is a on how to do just that.

I hope you’ll enjoy using these 10 ways to use balloons with children and families in sessions!