Art & Writing: Balloons Over Broadway Thanksgiving Parade Project

Balloons Over Broadway Art and Writing response to literature

Do you ever have an idea for a lesson but you don't know 100% where it is headed or how it will turn out?  That is what happened this year in the days leading up to Thanksgiving Break.   I knew I wanted to use the book Balloons Over Broadway and have some sort of writing and art response to it all, but I wasn't exactly sure what that would look like.  What my class actually ended up producing was FANTASTIC and is now currently my most favorite place to gaze at in my classroom.  

We began by reading the book Balloons Over Broadway.  This is the story of how a puppeteer named Tony Sarg reinvented the Macy's Christmas Parade (which would turn into the Thanksgiving Parade) by adding large rubber balloons instead of live animals into the parade route.  We gathered a lot of factual information about the parade by reading this book.

Then, we looked at videos of the parade itself.  Interestingly, my students had never seen this particular parade!  So I showed them clips off of youtube to give them a feel for what the parade is about.  They were fascinated by the balloon characters gliding down the street!  From there I moved to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade website. The balloons that will be in this year's parade can be found there.  We went through all 27 of them and discussed how they were shaped and what general themed they had.  The kids could see that there were old characters, new characters, and some that weren't characters at all!  We talked about the reasons why some of the balloons might have been included, and what balloons were left out that they thought should be there.

Writing an opinion paragraph explaining why a certain balloon should be included in the Thanksgiving Day Parade

I then asked them to think about an entry into the parade that they personally would like to make.  I had them draw a sketch of that balloon and think about the reasons that it should be included.  Using a Paragraph of the Week style of writing (since the kids are experts at that now!) they were instructed to list the reasons, as well as some elaborations upon those reasons, for their entry choice.  What would it add to the parade?  Why should this balloon become a part of this exclusive parade?  This then became the body of their paragraph.   Here is a paragraph organizer your students can use with the prompt included.

The next day, we discussed hooks to grab a reader in opinion writing.  We focused in specifically on an interesting fact.  Using the information we gathered from the book, the kids started their paragraph with an interesting fact about the parade.  They then transitioned that into their topic sentence.  It all was then wrapped up with a conclusion sentence or two.  

Student created artwork with balloon ideas for the Balloons Over Broadway response to literature

After the paragraphs were written, the kids set out to do the artwork.  I gave them a piece of black construction paper, a ruler, and a white crayon.  I showed them how to draw straight lines of various lengths to create the illusion of a New York skyline and buildings.  They used the white crayon to also draw windows on the paper.  They then cut out the skyline portion of the buildings and glued that on to a blue piece of construction paper.  

Next, they drew their balloon on a piece of white paper.  I asked them to keep the drawing to AT LEAST the size of their hand.  Once that was drawn and colored, they cut it out with a second piece of white paper behind it.  I then stapled those two pieces together, leaving a small opening.  Using the scraps from their cutting, they ripped off pieces and balled them up, stuffing the pieces into the pocket of the stapled together drawing they have.   As soon as it was all stuffed, I stapled up the opening, and the kids had a 3D puffed balloon.  They used white glue to attach it to the NY skyline they created, then added lines coming from the balloon to look like the wires holding them during the parade, and it was done!

Student artwork of Balloons Over Broadway response to literature

I stapled these on the wall in a line, all connected together.  It looks JUST like a parade!  The writing went underneath each individual art piece and we have a really cool looking bulletin board with a neat response to literature!  All in all, this was a winner in my book. 

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