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One of of my favorite Thanksgiving activities is to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my children. They have always loved parades, so I knew I had to grab a copy of Balloons Over Broadway when I saw it on the library shelf.
We enjoy watching the performers and checking out all the decorated floats, but our favorite part is the balloons.
Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet, tells the true story of how the beloved floats joined the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is an excellent book for children who are fascinated by the parade.
Balloons Over Broadway Activities
Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade
It seems totally natural to watch the parade after reading a book all about the evolution of the parade. It airs on NBC Thanksgiving Day from 9 a.m. – noon.
Don’t have cable? That’s okay! I don’t either.
Thankfully the internet makes it easy to see the parade without traveling to New York and standing in long lines. NBC.com allows streaming of most of their shows and the parade is usually included.
One year we couldn’t find the current parade available for free streaming anywhere. There was still a simple fix. We watched the parade from the previous year on YouTube. The parades are usually similar enough that my kids don’t mind.
Marionettes seem like they would be difficult to make, but they are actually fairly simple!
You probably already have just about everything you will need – string, toilet paper rolls, and craft sticks make up the main part of the marionette. Everything else is just decorative. This guide will walk you through making a dog marionette.
Helium is pretty important for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade because it keeps the balloons in the air.
Encourage your kids to act like scientists and research the element helium. Kids can research helium facts through the internet or scientific picture books.
Asking a child to research something can feel overwhelming. There is just so much information available that it can feel daunting.
It helps to break research down into bite size pieces. One way to start research on helium, or any subject really, is to come up with a few questions and search for the answers.
After finding the answers to their research questions allow your child to present their newly found information to you. This can be as informal as just verbally sharing the information around the dinner table or as formal as creating a poster. My kids typically lean towards sharing the information verbally or with just a paragraph
Sketch a new idea for a parade balloon
All of the parade balloons start with a simple sketch. Encourage your young artists to try their hand at sketching a balloon design. This can be a sketch of a current Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon or one that they create.
This YouTube video walks kids through the process of sketching the traditional turkey balloon from start to finish. It goes fast though, so be prepared to pause it so kids can keep up.
Check out the official Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade website
The official Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade website is a treasure trove of parade information.
You can see the route for the parade, check out a digital parade time line, and take a parade studio tour.
My favorite part though, is checking out the information that accompanies the ballon line up. Here you will see the sketches of the new balloons and facts such as height, width, and the number of handlers required.
Each of the balloons requires many more handlers than I imagined! I bet your kids will find lots of fascinating information.
Make balloon animals
Making balloon animals and having a little parade in your own home or neighborhood is another fun Balloons Over Broadway activity.
A kit makes it easy to make a balloon animal even if you don’t have any experience. This kit even comes with a DVD to help you get started.
Don’t bother trying to fill the balloon animals with helium though. The balloons are too small to hold enough helium to make them float for more than a few minutes.
Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with your children? Reading Balloons Over Broadway and doing these activities can turn it into an educational experience.
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