This year we were able to attend the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. We had such a good time. In preparation for going at the beginning of October, we spent some time on a hot air balloon unit. There is very little out there for hot air balloons, so I want to share with you some of our activities, both before and after, and some resources that I found.
Some of the topics/subtopics we studies or touched on were:
- hot air balloons
- propulsion, motion and force
- weather and climate
- properties of matter
Here are the ideas for specific content areas.
- Charting temperatures – There is a video on DragonflyTV (which is a PBS thing) featuring two girls who go up on a balloon and talk through a lot of the charting and interpreting data from their ride.
- Shape worksheets to practice facts (from Super Teacher Worksheets)
- 21 Balloons by William Pene Du Bois was our read aloud. We branched off with it to touch on geography (finding places mentioned in the book), history (Krakatou), and the feasibility of things mentioned in the book. I don’t want to give too much of this story away here so just take my word for it: Read this book!! It really needs its own unit!
- Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon – we just read this one with J as a read aloud.
- Eleanor Coerr’s The Big Balloon Race was one J read out loud to me.
- Video on Hot Air Henry, which I found on Pinterest (my hot air balloon board)
- Resource book: Hot Air Ballooning by Barry Wells and Paul Stumpf
- Resource book: Kites and Hot Air Balloons Theme Unit by Janet Bruno from Creative Teaching Press, Inc.
- We used a page from the theme unit book on suffixes, which J has been studying in her phonics book. It fit in perfectly.
- After we returned from the balloon fiesta, the girls each wrote about the experience. I gave them a very open ended prompt so we got some very different writings from each of them. I used a hot air balloon shaped note pad for the cover sheets and cut lined notebook paper to the shape of the cover page. The girls then wrote their stories in that.
- Learn and study the parts of a hot air balloon. Learn about the basket, the envelope, the rip cord, the vent, etc. Learn how these affect the way the balloon is piloted.
- Discuss the states of matter and the properties of matter that affect hot air balloons. (heating air vs cooling air, thin vs thick fabric, silk vs plastic in the envelope of the balloon, etc.) Focus on what helps the balloon ascend and descend.
- Physics video on Mocomi about hot air balloons
- We also played with flying a balloon via computer simulation at AIMS Education Foundation.
- We used the Air unit from the Magic School Bus to study more on air and its properties, as well. This helped the girls understand a bit more about how hot air balloons work.
- Read about the history of ballooning. We used a couple of chapters from Hot Air Ballooning by Barry Wells and Paul Stumpf. Write about what you learn or narrate a summary of the history.
- Learn about some of the flights associated with the start of hot air ballooning.
- Map the places associated with the history of ballooning as noted in the Wells and Stumpf book (or another book or site you use).
- The geography affects the use of balloons. Find these uses and map them.
- Landscape Art: create a landscape using balloon stickers
- Scratch Art: design your own balloon
- We did a hot air balloon puzzle that was a lot of fun.
- There is also a unit over at Homeschool Share on hot air balloons. It is based on the book Hot Air: the (mostly) True Story of the First Hot Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman. Our library had the book marked as out of circulation so we did not use this unit but it looks like a good one, especially if you like making lapbooks.