Kids love Rudolf! With his bright red nose and his under dog story he appeals to kids everywhere. What child doesn't love the idea of saving Christmas? In this fun, hands-on balloon race activity we pit Rudolf against Rudolf in a race to save Christmas one again, but this time we are bringing in a little physics lesson.
This Simple Physics Activity, Rudolf Races is fun for preschool through elementary.
We are having so much fun incorporating science into our holidays! The kids loved Chemistry Trees so much, they've been begging to do more and this time I wanted to tackle a little physics.
Christmas Games - Rudolf Races
- Anchor points - we used chairs, but you could really use anything.
- String or twine (must be thin enough to slide easily through your straws)
- Straight straws (bendy ones won't work!)
- Decorating supplies for Rudolf - including red pompoms, construction paper, googly eyes, glue (our glue refused to adhere to the balloons so we used tape), tape, etc.
- Clips or clamps to keep the air in the balloon
Preparing For The Races
Start by setting up your race track. We set ours up between chairs, 2 for each track. Simply tie one end of the string to one chair, thread your straw onto the string, then tie off the other end on the other chair. Pull the chairs apart until the string is taut. Repeat for each track.
TIP! These balloons are going to go really fast. Aim for a long track. Ours was 8 feet long and it seemed way too short. The races were over, it seemed, before they even started. I would aim for 15 feet or longer if you have the space.
TIP 2! Make sure your string is level.
Next prepare your Rudolf balloons by decorating them. This is easiest to do while they are blown up with a clamp on the end to stop air escaping. We went with stickers for the eyes, red pompom for the nose and some construction paper antlers. They looked a little like an Angry Birds version of Rudolf, but the kids loved it!
To race your Rudolfs attach the top of the balloon to the straw on the string with some tape. Carefully remove the clip or clamp, keeping the end pinched between your fingers.
Start the countdown... 3 - 2 - 1 RACE!
Let go of the balloons and watch as the Rudolfs race to the end!
By the time the Rudolf reaches the end of the string he is a very sad looking little reindeer. My kids thought this part was hilarious!
Understanding the Science and PhysicsThese balloon races are about understanding the principles of physics, and since this activity is aimed at preschoolers to elementary students we will keep the physics simple. This Rudolf Balloon Race is a simple action-reaction experiment.
When you blow up the balloon you are filling it up with air that is under pressure. When the air escapes from the balloon (when you let go of it) the escaping air exerts thrust or force on the balloon which propels it forward. The air escapes backward - the balloon races forward. Action - reaction.
And when you have the kids all excited about physics and science, keep that passion for learning going with my guide to chemistry for kids.
Shelley is a former communications manager with a BSc in Psychology specialization. Since starting a family ten years ago, she has been a full-time writer in both fiction and non-fiction, and on her site: STEAM Powered Family. She is passionate about quality education and childhood mental health, and last year started homeschooling her two children who both have special needs. Follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.