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Age Range: 5-7
Duration: 0-29 mins
  • Maths

Learn to count: Balloon rocket activity

Learn how to count forwards and backwards using balloon rockets

Learn how to count by releasing balloon ‘rockets’ in this fun activity for kids!

This activity is part of a collection of free STEM resources to aid the teaching of the primary national curriculum. Its objective is to assist in the instruction of key mathematics and science topics. This particular resource focuses on the concept of counting backwards to zero using various number intervals.

Activity: Learn to count - Balloon rocket activity

During this exercise, participants will practice counting backwards using different steps i.e., 1s, 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s. This will equip them with the necessary skills to count to and from 100, both forwards and backwards, starting from zero or any given number. To increase engagement, students will release balloon ‘rockets’ at the conclusion of each countdown.

This activity can be used as a main lesson activity, to teach learners how to count backwards using the prompts in the teacher presentation.

This is an engaging and practical exercise that can be carried out as a whole class or in small groups.

When using the presentation, you are prompted with which step to use for the countdown and with a starting number. As you click through the steps each number, in sequence, will be revealed and at zero the balloon will be launched.

If some younger learners struggle with blowing up balloons, some could be inflated prior to the lesson and ‘tied-off’ using clips. As the balloons are released when the count reaches zero, the balloons should not be tied.

If re-inflation is not possible within the time, a proportion of the balloons could be released each time – e.g., a certain colour or all the balloons from one table group.

As an optional extension activity, the count downs could be started from 100 or another integer of the teacher’s choice.

How long will this activity take?

This is a quick and simple activity that will take approximately 25-35 minutes to complete.

Tools/resources required

  • Whiteboards
  • Whiteboard markers and erasers
  • Pack of balloons
  • Balloon pump

The engineering context

An understanding of number combinations and number operations is vital for engineers who need to solve lots of interesting problems. For example, electronic engineers use countdown timers to let motorists know when a traffic light will go from red to green and allow the motorist to drive off safely.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to count backwards from numbers up to 50 and they will be able to count backwards in steps of 1s, 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s.

Download the free Learn to count: Balloon rocket activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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