Then I’ll huff, I’ll puff and I’ll blow that balloon up!

Today’s investigation all started from a conversation about a bowl of cereal, would you believe it!
Whilst eating a bowl of Rice Krispies we talked about what it actually was, that they were eating and how it was made. Big kid likened it to pop corn and then, blowing a balloon. Thumbs up from me!

I love how they make the links. The kids, well, they just love balloons (and cake). We have a lot of them (balloons, not cake). They love balloons – have I mentioned that before? So I directed the conversation to asking them if they would like to find out how to blow a balloon without using their mouth.

Cue excited faces.

Still in our Pj’s, I pulled some bits out of the kitchen and we began. I enlisted the other half’s help for this so that I could capture the action. This activity required *very* little and takes even *less* time.

We began with some focusing on the actual action of blowing and getting them to think about what they were doing and where it was coming from before trying to blow a balloon.

They huff and they puffed…..before the big bad wolf stepped in to show them how it was done.

I introduced the term carbon dioxide, yes, despite their age. Hey, if they can say Tyrannsaurus Rex then they can learn to say carbon dioxide!! Even the little one gave it a fair go – it was incredibly cute….car oxide was managed!

I will add here that in the past the older one and I have talked about plants taking in ‘bad air’ and giving us the ‘good air’ (he once asked what the plants and grass was for and why there were around). I was able to make the link here between the ‘bad air’ and carbon dioxide. I mentioned it was a gas but refrained from linking this to a fart- well, the other half did with a very firm look from myself.

With no further ado we proceeded with the experiment. For this you need:DSC_0082

  • Vinegar (white vinegar is better but we had malt vinegar and it worked just fine)
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Plastic bottle (75cl)
  • A straw
  • A balloon
  • A spoon, for just in case.

The first thing to do was to fill the balloon with around 2 tbsps of the bicarb of soda. Ideally, a funnel would be best to use to do this – but this would need two people (one to hold the balloon open and another to fill it). We did not have a funnel and so used straw instead.

Next the plastic bottle was filled with around 2-2.5cm of vinegar. Then the last step was to stretch the balloon over the top of the bottle, allow the contents to hit the vinegar and watch the magic happen! Just make sure you hold the base of the balloon down on the bottle throughout.

They loved it! And it really did not take very long either, the chemical reaction begins immediately. The vinegar and bicarb mix to make an acid-base reaction, producing carbon dioxide which expands, rises up and inflates the balloon.

There are lots of factors you can investigate with this experiment to take it one step further and develop the learning. You can have a go with different balloon sizes, bottle sizes and even different amounts of vinegar and bicarb of soda – but not all at once if you want to draw valuable conclusions.


Give this a go, it is so quick and simple!

And next time an offspring runs up to you with a sopping wet balloon due to repeated attempts at inflating it…..point them to the kitchen!


  • Blow
  • Lungs
  • Air
  • Gas
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Acid
  • Mixture
  • Bubbles

Key questions:

  • Can you blow out air?
  • Where in your body can you feel it (air) coming from?
  • What can you see happening?
  • Did it blow it up as big as person could?
  • What could we have done to blow the balloon up bigger?
  • What was better at blowing up a big balloon?
  • Why could you not blow up the balloon as big as mummy/daddy?


Clearly the spoon came in handy…..!


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