There’s just something magical about balloons! They have the ability to instantly put a smile on any child’s face! Although, I have learned over the years through my experience as a mom, that those smiles can quickly turn to frowns if a balloon floats away or pops. The roller coaster of emotions is constant in childhood! What if I told you I have the perfect activity that will not only help your child regulate their emotions, but also involves balloons! These DIY Sensory Balloons are not only great for sensory play, but can also be an awesome calm down toy for kids.

– Life Over C's Photo collage showing how to make sensory balloons for kids.

Recommended Grade Level:

Supplies for the Sensory Balloons:

  • 5 balloons
  • Masa
  • Uncooked Rice
  • Buttons
  • Mosaic gems
  • Pom Poms 
  • Funnel

Table of Contents

What are Sensory Balloons?

Sensory balloons are balloons filled with materials of various textures. To make for a great sensory variety, you will want to fill balloons with materials that have different feels to them. For example, the rice in this activity is hard and pointy, while the pom poms are soft and squishy. Speaking of soft and squishy- if this is a texture your child likes, then they will LOVE this sensory painting activity!

I love a good sensory bin, but if I’m looking for a sensory activity that keeps the mess a little more contained I go with sensory balloons. Whether you are looking for mess free sensory activities like this one, or are feeling a little more adventurous in your sensory exploration there are plenty of Sensory Activities at Life Over Cs to check out!

Need more mess free sensory activities? Check out these!

Why is Sensory Play Important?

Sensory play is incredibly important for so many reasons! As your child’s senses are exploring, important brain development is taking place. Sensory play is also incredibly helpful in strengthening fine motor skills. Before my children learned to cut with scissors and grip pencils I did lots of sensory play with them to help strengthen their hand and finger muscles.

Small children feel big emotions and sensory play can help calm an upset child. When my children are feeling upset, I have found taking their mind off it by doing a sensory activity is normally pretty successful in helping to calm them down. Check out this Health Essentials article for more information about sensory play and it’s benefits.

How Do I Use Sensory Balloons?

Sensory balloons can be used individually similar to a stress ball. Gently squeezing a sensory balloon can help to relieve tension and also help to distract a child from a stressful situation. A child with nervous energy may find relief in squeezing and playing with a sensory balloon.

You can also use multiple sensory balloons for an activity. Line the sensory balloons up and have your child feel each balloon. See if they can match them to the material that was used to fill them. You can even include a picture or word card for them to match the sensory balloon to. Such a fun way to work on critical thinking and language development skills!

One of the best parts of sensory balloons is that they are mysterious since the materials are hidden, which means even your older kids will be trying to get in on the fun!

Materials You Will Need for Sensory Balloons:

  • 5 balloons
  • Masa
  • Uncooked Rice
  • Buttons
  • Mosaic gems
  • Pom Poms 
  • Funnel
– Life Over C's Supplies for the DIY sensory balloons activity are laid out on a counter.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Sensory Balloons:

Step One:

Gather all of your materials. You may want to use a plastic craft tray to keep all of the materials contained and help with any spills!

– Life Over C's Overhead shot of rice inside a funnel to go inside a sensory balloon.

Step Two:

Use a funnel to help fill one balloon with rice and another balloon with masa.

Fill the other balloons by stretching them with your fingers and holding them open while you add the other sensory materials.

Carefully tie the balloons shut once they are filled.

Teacher Tip: Get your little helper or an older sibling involved and make your life a little easier. Hold the balloon open and let them use a spoon to scoop the materials into the balloon.

– Life Over C's Someone is using a funnell to fill up a balloon with masa flour.

Step Three:

Time to guess! Can your child figure out what is inside each balloon?

– Life Over C's Five sensory balloons sitting in glass bowls filled with different objects.

Yay! You Made Your Sensory Balloons. What Now?

You can use sensory balloons as an independent activity, a sensory exploration station, or as part of a group activity if you are a teacher. I love hearing all of the giggles and conversations that happen as a result of sensory balloon play!

You can even keep your sensory balloons as part of a calm down kit for when your child is feeling sad or upset!

Ways to Differentiate Learning with Sensory Balloons

There are so many different ways to use sensory balloons! Here are some other things to try with them:

  • Fill double the amount of balloons (2 with each type of material) and make it into a sensory matching game. Can your child find each pair of balloons?
  • Older kids love sensory balloons too! Give each child a balloon and see if they can describe it to the other kids and get them to guess what balloon they are holding. I am holding something hard, and smooth, and round…
  • Try out some other sensory balloon materials. Dry beans, glitter, ground coffee, play sand, play dough, small rocks, aquarium rocks, lotion, shampoo, baby oil, seeds, flour, hair gel, and shaving cream all make great fillers.

More Ways to Explore Sensory Play

Check out some of these other amazing sensory activities!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about sensory balloons!

What are calm down activities?

Calm down activities help children who are upset calm down and manage their emotions in a peaceful way.

Can I fill sensory balloons with liquid?

Yes! You can fill sensory balloons with liquid. Water, baby oil, hair gel, and shampoo all make great sensory balloon fillers. Just be sure to tie the balloons extra tight and keep them away from anything sharp that could puncture them.

What age is best to use sensory balloons with?

All ages love sensory balloons! Preschoolers and kindergartners love feeling the fun textures while older kids see them as a mysterious guessing game. The big bonus- everyone reaps the benefits of fine motor skill and sensory development!

How do I store sensory balloons?

Over the years, I have found it is best to store sensory balloons in a hard container with a lid. This helps to keep the balloons from getting smashed or popped.

Time for Sensory Balloon Fun!

Now that you have made your super fun sensory balloons it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch the magic of sensory balloons put a smile on your child’s face. While you’re relaxing, be sure to leave us a comment and let us know how much you love this activity!

Do you love this activity?

Pin it for later!

– Life Over C's Photo showing a DIY sensory balloons activity for kids.

Calm Down Materials to Engage Kids’ Hands

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author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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