Children are full of energy and have a ready sense of fun. It is easy to burn off that energy if you are outdoors but more difficult if you are confined indoors because of the weather. Coping with rain, snow and frost is possible by wearing appropriate clothing and children generally continue to enjoy themselves playing outdoors.
Sometimes it is better to play indoors and here are five easy ways of using the humble balloon to develop those muscles and co-ordination and have some fun at the same time. All the games can be played with several children at once, even those of different ages.
Jump and Head
Blow up a balloon or two and hang them from a long string or piece of wool from the ceiling so that the balloon is hanging out of reach. The child jumps and bats the balloon with his hand, and later with his head as if he were heading a football. See how many times he can do it in a minute. This is excellent for teaching little ones to crouch and spring and to develop hand eye co-ordination whilst leaping.
Blow up a balloon and see who can keep the balloon up in the air the longest by batting it up with the hand. If it touches the ground counting begins again.
Pat and Run
Again have a balloon on a long string so that it would easily touch the ground when the child holds it. The child has to hold the end of the string and race and pat the balloon and keep it off the ground whilst he runs. You could run relay races.
Make a bat out of a paper plate with paper handle taped on. Or just use a paper plate as a bat and play a game where you bat the balloon backwards and forwards between each other. You can use a net, as in tennis, or stand either side of a table.
Put a balloon on the floor and the child must blow it across the floor either to a partner as in a relay race or against the clock. Another version is to mark out an obstacle track and blow the balloon round the obstacles.
Or perhaps mark out a track with brightly coloured masking tape and the child has to keep the balloon on the tape. Beware of hyperventilating, but the child will discover that it is often better to blow long and slow, or even to use a straw to blow through.
I’m sure you can think of many more games to play with a simple balloon, but these five should get you started. Do share your ideas, it would be lovely to hear them.