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Design a Parade Balloon

Students will investigate the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Then they will brainstorm ideas and create a balloon of their own.

PROCESS:

  1. Display the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade site. Have students explore the parade's history all the way back to the 1920s. Instruct students to pay special attention to the evolution of balloons in the parade. You can do this as a class. Or, you may wish to divide the class into small groups. Assign one decade to each group and have the groups deliver a brief summary sharing what they learned.
  2. As a class, discuss trends in the types of balloons created for the parade. Encourage students to identify their favorite balloons and explain why they like them.
  3. Tell students to imagine that they are in charge of creating a new balloon for this year's parade. Give students time to brainstorm ideas and create a balloon of their own.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their balloons with the class. Instruct them to identify the subject that inspired their balloons and explain why they chose it. Encourage them to identify their favorite parts in their balloon designs.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:     

Grades 3-4:
Give each student a piece of plain white paper and access to drawing supplies. Instruct students to come up with ideas and draw pictures of their balloons. Remind them to draw ropes for people to hold onto so the balloons don't fly away!

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to come up with an idea for a balloon. Then give each pair a balloon and provide access to newspapers, glue or paper mâché paste, paintbrushes, paint and other art supplies. Challenge them to make a paper mâché​ model of their balloon.

Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into small groups. Be sure to include at least one student in each group who is proficient at graphic design. Instruct each group to select a subject for their balloon. Challenge them to create a digital model of their design. Have students not directly involved in the digital work conduct research to learn more about the design and construction of balloons featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into small groups. Be sure to include two or more students in each group who are proficient at graphic design. Instruct each group to select a subject for their balloon. Challenge them to create an animated model of their design. Have students not directly involved in the animation conduct research to learn more about the design and construction of balloons featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Challenge them to calculate how many people it would take to handle a real-life version of their balloon in the parade.