Feely Balloons

Winnie Koo Ravenswood School

4332 N. Paulina Street

Chicago IL 60613

(773) 534-5525


Students investigate unknown solids using the sense of touch

Materials Needed:

3-5 small zipper type plastic bags or baby food jars,

3-5 uninflated balloons (each of a different color)

Wide-stemmed funnel

3-5 types of solids with which to fill the balloons such as the following: rice,

beans, salt, powder such as flour and corn starch


  1. Instruct students to use their senses (except taste) to investigate the set of balloons and answer Questions 1 – 4 on the "Mystery Solid" Observation Sheet (provided).
  2. After ample investigation time, have the groups record what the thing is inside each balloon on the Observation Sheet.
  3. Call on each group, asking the spokesperson to tell what the group thinks the contents are and to provide some supporting evidence for these conclusions.
  4. Ask students what they might use to make the task of identifying the balloon contents easier, but remind them that they still cannot open or cut the balloons. After discussion, give each group a set of reference containers, telling them that the reference containers hold the same materials as the Feely Balloons
  5. Ask students to match balloons with sample containers and record their matches on their Observation Sheets.
  6. Reveal the actual contents of the balloons by cutting open one of the sets of balloons and allowing students to examine the contents.

Performance Assessment:

Partner pairs of students. Direct each student to explain to their partner how they made their decision about which solid was in the balloon.


Teaching Science with Toys, 1993