Measurement (Webcast No. 4): Balloon Rocket Lesson

Watch as children compare the distances traveled by a balloon rocket, created with string and a balloon. Teaching teams and parents may learn this activity to assist children with measuring and comparing distances.

Setting: small group – near the end of the year

What happened before the lesson?   |   What's happening during the lesson?   |   What will I do after the lesson?

What happened before the lesson?

Where did the idea come from?

  • "Balloon Rocket" Day Five, page 31 in TEXTEAMS Mathematics Institute Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten.
  • "Balloon Rocket," page 145 in The Young Child and Mathematics.

What had the children learned BEFORE this lesson?
Children had just begun learning to count "backward." They had also measured their height directly using adding machine tape.

What did you plan to do AFTER this lesson?
Children continued to directly measure distances using yarn pieces, paper strips, plastic chains, yardsticks, and measuring tapes.

What's happening during the lesson?

Objective: Children will compare the distances traveled by a balloon rocket.

Introduction:
Discuss the balloon rocket launch and the astronaut jobs that children will do.

Procedure:

  1. Set up the rocket launch. (See the diagram below).
  2. Release the rocket while children count backwards from 10.
  3. Measure the distance traveled using adding machine tape.
  4. Tape the adding machine tape to the floor.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 many times and compare the distances traveled. 

Balloon diagram of a a string tied between a chair and doorknob and a balloon taped to a straw between the door and chair

Balloon diagram of a a string tied between a chair and doorknob and a balloon taped to a straw between the door and chair

What will I do after the lesson?

How did your plans change as you taught this lesson?
One child was frightened about what would happen when the "rocket" was "blasted." Because of  his fear, I modified the procedure for this first test. During the second test, the previously frightened child requested to be the "astronaut" and I involved all the children in the activity.  

How would you describe the teaching that occurred using the words on the Continuum of Teaching Behaviors?
I DEMONSTRATED with children's help the release of the balloon rocket. Then we CO-CONSTRUCTED the measurements.

Measurement (Webcast No. 4): Balloon Rocket Lesson. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2008. English. Streaming Video. 00:02:23.

Last Reviewed: May 2012

Last Updated: January 6, 2017