PURPOSE OF ACTIVITY: Students can work together (cooperative learning), or by themselves to create directions that describe the process they took to create a balloon racer. Students create prototypes and write down their steps using a graphic organizer, so that they can revise their instructions with changes that they make during their thinking. Once they feel they have a good balloon racer, students then trade their graphic organizer with another group to see if the other group can replicate the instructions they created. If the other group cannot, then students can revise/edit their instructions and try the process again. Once the students have gone through the writing process, and are happy with how another group performed their set of instructions, they will each write a procedural/functional text that describes how they constructed their balloon racer.
WHAT A BALLOON RACER IS: A teacher attaches two, or more pieces of twenty pound fishing (can be a heavier) line from one end of the classroom to the other end. The more you string up, the more students can have their own race track to test their prototype racers on. Otherwise, students waste time waiting for an opening on the “race tracks”. Then the students try to create a balloon racer that attaches to the fishing line, after they blow it up. Once they blow the balloon up, they let it go, and see how fast/far it will travel down that fishing line.
SKILLS: Writing Directions Reading Comprehension, Writing Process, Descriptive Writing, Sequencing Information, Critical Thinking Skills, Vocabulary Practice, Cooperative Learning, Cause and Effect, Inferring, Questioning, Determining Importance, Math Computation