Beach Ball and Balloon Games

Kids will hop, skip, jump, swat, and chase with these active games.

Although these balloon games work for parties, you don't need an excuse to play them! I rounded up a dozen games and activities that encourage active play for kids (and some lung power for adults). Many can be played indoors. You'll find that most balloon games work just as well with beach balls, which have the advantage of standing up to rougher play. Don't forget that balloon scraps are a choking hazard for little ones, so pick them up promptly—or better yet, have big kids do it for you.

Keep It Up

Girls playing with balloons
Tetra Images / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

This classic balloon game has only one rule: Keep the balloon off the floor! Challenge kids to keep the balloon or beach ball afloat using only their hands, feet, or even heads. Tip: For the feet-only variation, have kids start in a crab walk position, with hands and feet on the floor and bellies facing up. This makes the game more difficult, and players are less likely to kick each other when aiming for the balloon.

Balloon Stomp

Balloon stomp party game
Johner Images / Getty Images

Another classic balloon game! It's always satisfying to smash and pop balloons, and chase your friends at the same time. Skip the beach balls on this one, of course.

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Parachute

Homemade parachute toss with bedsheet and balloons
Erica Greis

If you have lots of kids and balloons, grab an old bedsheet to use as a parachute. Have fun bouncing the balloons as you tug and ripple the sheet. For one or two kids, use a large towel instead. If you have at least four players, split them into pairs and give each a towel. See if they can bounce a beach ball or balloon from one towel to the next.

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Volleyball

Create some sort of divider to use as a net: It could be a piece of furniture, a ribbon, a piece of tape or a chalk line. Then just volley your balloon or beach ball back and forth!

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Paddleball

For a variation on volleyball, use simple paddles to swat the balloon. If you don't have Ping-pong paddles or badminton rackets, make some by taping paper plates onto fat craft sticks, wooden paint stirrers, or cardboard tubes (paper-towel size is best).

Whack-a-Noodle

Use pool noodles to propel balloons and beach balls for lots of high-energy play. Try a floaty version of baseball using noodles as bats. Or challenge kids to push their balloons along an obstacle course (a line made of chalk or tape, with obstacles to go around, under, and through—think cardboard boxes made into tunnels, laundry baskets propped up with blocks, and so on).

Chopstick Challenge

Use pool noodles for this one too. You need at least two players. Give each a noodle and tell them they have to get a balloon or beach ball into a large basket or box. The trick is that it only works if they cooperate, using the noodles like a giant pair of chopsticks to pick up the ball and move it into the basket.

Ice Cream Cone Balance

Rest a balloon or beach ball on top of a cone (use a small toy traffic cone, a large funnel, or even just a sheet of heavy paper rolled up) and have kids walk or run while keeping their ice cream cone intact. How far can they go?

Bossy Ball

Also called "catch and do", this one requires a little prep. It works better with a beach ball, although it's still doable with a balloon. Write some easy exercises or other silly suggestions ("tell a joke" or "hop on one foot 10 times") on scraps of paper, then tape them to your ball. Have kids toss the ball to each other, then perform the action that's face-up when they catch the ball. You can also use washable markers to write directly on your ball or balloon.

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Floor Hockey

Swap the very hard plastic ball or puck for a light-as-air balloon. It's not so easy to put it in the net! Use a cardboard box or rectangular laundry basket as a goal. For a stick, try using a toy golf club or hockey stick, a kid-sized broom, or (once again!) a pool noodle. Or, you can make your own stick out of cardboard.

Don't Dawdle Waddle

Try this as part of a relay race challenge; it's a version of the three-legged race. Instead of tying their legs together, two runners stand side-by-side and hold a balloon or ball between their hips (no helping hands allowed). How fast can they move from start to finish, without dropping the ball?

String It Up

This is a good balloon activity for smaller kids. It helps them practice important gross motor skills. Tie a string to a balloon's knot (or the valve on a beach ball) and dangle the balloon in the air. Kids can swat at it with their hands, crouch on the floor and jump on toward the balloon (like a rocket going to the moon), kick at it with their feet, and so on.

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