2.21.2014

Balloon Buddy Tutorial - Meet Henry


  Meet Henry.
 He's been floating around our house since last Friday night, an envoy of all things Valentine. 
1.  Buy any helium inflated balloon at your local Dollar Tree or other super-deep discount store. 
 When I taught first grade, I used to get a Christmas air walker for my classroom - sometimes a snowman, a reindeer, and once - a Santa!  Carried by air currents to visit desks  and perch on bookshelves, occasionally the silent wanderer would drift across the heat vent and go shooting at high speed across the classroom.  
(producing screams and giggles of delight)
2. Use any color crepe paper in lengths of 12 inches or so to make arms and legs. Attach them to the bottom and sides of the balloon with clear tape. I used packaging tape.
3. Cut gloves and shoes from light paper and attach to the arms and legs with tape. I used the paper insert from a box of candy, but you could use construction paper, wrapping paper, a magazine cover, etc.

 An impulse buy at the Dollar Tree, this re-made Valentine's Day balloon has made for some cheap entertainment for my family here at home. I wish I had made these for my kids when they were little! But even as teens, they are enjoying the travels of this little character around our house.  
He does turn up in unexpected places...
We've found him waiting at the top of the stairs and staring into the computer screen.
He's been found by the back door waiting to go out with the dog, and he's 
hovered in front of the TV screen for a better view of Olympic curling.

4. Make eyes from a scrap of computer paper and tape or glue them to the balloon. I traced the bottom and top of a vitamin bottle with a Sharpie marker to get  nice round circles. To save weight, you could draw the eyes (and other features) directly on the balloon with a permanent marker.
It's been a nice distraction from the 
snow/ice/sleet/rain/snow/ice/sleet/rain!

5. He (or she!) should float with shoes coming to rest every now and then. To add weight, attach paperclips to the shoes.  As the balloon begins to deflate, just remove paperclips. You may need to shorten the arms/legs, or trim the shoes and gloves to keep your character light enough to float as the helium escapes.


Extra Thoughts:
- The possibilities for these are endless, and they last for about a week
- Spring-themed balloons will be in the stores soon - a Flower Balloon Buddy?
- A Birthday Balloon Buddy would be a fun surprise to find at the breakfast table. 
- Use a plain balloon and allow a child's imagination and creativity lots of room for expression. How about using some feathers or and shapes instead of gloves? 
 You might add yarn shoestrings for weight instead of paper clips. 
Print photos of real eyes/noses/smiles instead of hand-drawn.
- A Balloon Buddy would make a perfect 'listening pal' to hear stories 
read by an otherwise reluctant reader.
- Have your Buddy hide in the closet of an unsuspecting teenager...
 or behind the shower curtain... in the garage? 

So much excitement - for so little money!


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