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…..!


I have a car, I have a balloon. I have a balloon car!

Cars, balloons and motion.

I doubt these lyrics will make a tune as catchy as ‘Pineapple pen’ but it may be a catchy activity to do with the kids as it is inexpensive, readily available and an easy way to introduce Newton’s third law (if you want to take it that far!). 

My kids love cars. They build them, pretend to be one and like to throw play with them. They also LOVE balloons. We are a house in abundance of balloons and cars so I’ve decided that this weeks activity will combine the two. We simply taped a balloon to a plastic straw, taped this to a toy car, blew up the balloon and let it go! 

To get them warmed up we had a bit of fun racing cars (excuse my shoddy iPhone pictures. They will get better!). 


I posed the question of moving the car without using hands. Smarty pants number 1 suggested we use feet before we swiftly moved on from using any body parts.

I showed them the balloon attached to a straw and we discussed how it was made before we made one together. 

All in all for this activity, you’ll need a toy car (fairly lightweight one BUT don’t limit yourself to this, more info on this in a bit), straws, masking tape, scissors, a clothes peg and of course a balloon. 


What you’re aiming to create is something like this (below) which you’ll tape to a toy car.           



Then it was a simple case of blow up the balloon and release. 

The air escaping propels the balloon in the opposite direction which illustrates that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. We likened this to a rocket too. But, naturally because things with very young kids (and even with science) rarely goes to plan, we ended up having more interesting conversations about friction. Initially we tried this experiment on the carpet before taking it outside and then back inside on some laminate flooring. Of course we got very different results and discussed why. D also started to suggest ‘better’ surfaces. 

Above I mentioned about using a light weight car. We used a range of cars: heavy, light and even a constructed car from magnetic blocks. Again each had different results which we discussed. 

So you can see, this opened up a large amount of dialogue. If you want to avoid all these factors to keep it simple then make sure you complete this task on a smooth surface with a light weight car. You can even construct your own car using light household items from the recycling bin e.g. cardboard, bottle top lids for wheels etc. 

For us, this task is just the beginning. The rest of the week we are going to spend a few minutes repeating this experiment to explore different surfaces and different weighted cars before coming up with the ideal way to race the cars. This will hopefully reinforce the learning that has taken place and reinforce the main point of the experiment (3rd law of motion).  

However, it has been requested that I just blow up the balloon (whilst attached to the straw) and release them – yes we even got distracted by doing that!! 

Taken by the big brother.
Some keywords explored today: 

  • Opposite 
  • Push
  • Friction
  • Smooth
  • Bumpy
  • Light
  • Heavy

Well, there ends my first ever blog. I’ve already made a billion notes on what needs to improve for next time and I’m sure week on week I’ll continue to learn. 

Until next time……