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A Thanksgiving Celebration: Balloons Over Broadway in the Classroom

Fall, Seasonal, Thanksgiving

Written by: Katie Palmer

Have you heard of the book, ‘Balloons over Broadway', by Melissa Sweet? This engaging read, focusing on the true story of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade puppeteer, is sure to enthrall your young learners. Not only will they learn the true story behind the big parade balloons, but they will get to make a balloon themselves! Read on for our team's tips to bring a Broadway Street parade to your classroom!

Balloons Over Broadway book with accompanying resources.

What is the Balloons Over Broadway Project?

Perhaps you have heard of this book due to its popularity with teachers. Many educators take to social media to discuss how much fun they had doing ‘Balloons on Broadway' projects with students. But what exactly are these teachers doing with the book, and how can you do it too?

a student's balloon design for a balloons over broadway event in the classroom

Two Ways to Get the Book

Before we dive into project ideas, you will want a copy of the book to familiarize yourself with the story.

  1. Grab it on Amazon
A balloon design template
Buy on Amazon

2. Follow along with a YouTube read aloud.

Watch Videos on the Parade's History

Once you have read the book, students might want to see footage of the parade and balloons. There are tons of videos on the subject on YouTube, but don't worry we already dug through and picked out some faves.

The Best Balloons & Floats of 2021

Students will get inspired to create their own balloons after watching this lineup.

Parade 101: Balloon Design Basics from Macy's Creative Team

Watch Macy's balloon design team draw out their ides.

How Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloons Are Made

Kickoff your balloon project with this cute and informative video from Scholastic.

Timelapse of Parade Balloons Inflating

Watch the balloons come to life!

Project Ideas

Now it's time to dive into three easy projects that will bring the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade magic right into your classroom!

Create Parade Balloons

1-Draw it Out

Once students have heard the book, it is time to design their own balloons. Pass out the balloon design sheet and let students get creating! Tip: Print these double sided to allow students more idea space.

balloons over broadway read aloud balloon design and short text to read in the 2nd grade classroom

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2-Create the Balloon

Once students are done drawing, it is time to create their parade balloon. Supply students with an already blown up balloon. (Saves so much time!) Set out construction paper and let students draw, cut out and tape their characters to their balloons.

A student drawing out pieces to glue onto their classroom parade balloon
A decorated Frankenstein balloon for a classroom balloon parade

Design a Backdrop

Most of you probably do NOT live on Broadway in New York. So, how can you bring the parade atmosphere to your classroom? There are two easy options: project an image or create butcher paper skyscrapers.

Use a Green Screen

If you are wanting to get more technical, hang up a piece of green construction or butcher paper. Then, have your students
“parade” their balloons in front of the paper. When you add these clips to iMovie, or another video editing program, you can follow the steps highlighted below to make your movie come to life.

Create a green screen by taping pieces of green paper together
Using iMovie to edit a classroom parade video

Extension Idea

Tap into Comprehension

Extend your Balloons over Broadway project with comprehension companions. These resources can be a great lead up to the balloon design project.

Balloons over Broadway book with accompanying resources

Head to All Access to download:

  • Comprehension/discussion question
  • Cut & paste timeline
  • Balloon design template
  • Nonfiction passages with questions: “How Giant Balloons are Made” and “Balloons Making History”.
  • Main character study
  • Vocabulary & definition match
  • Math on Parade addition maze
10 balloons over broadway activities by lucky little learners

Download Balloons Over Broadway resources

See it in Action!

Join me as I walk you through our step-by-step guide to hosting a successful Balloons Over Broadway classroom event.

Are you going to do a “Balloons Over Broadway” project in your classroom? Be sure to tag us in social media to share your pictures!

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Happy teaching!

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