Hot Air Balloons

posted in: Homeschool | 20

This is our 9th year homeschooling our children. Our favorite homeschooling style is “unit studies”. Over the years we have tried different styles but this one works best for us. We create our unit studies from our field trips or interests. We love this way of learning because we devote a whole week to one subject. I always create our unit studies. Unit studies are great especially if you are homeschooling multiple children. I love that we get to work together as a family to learn something new.

We start our unit study each morning with reading about our topic over breakfast. We love learning the anatomy or parts of everything we are learning. Art is usually done the first day. We paint, draw, or create what we are learning. On the second day we do science. History is covered on the third day and we turn history into some sort of game so that we can retain the information better. On the fourth day we do English which involves us writing a sentence, paragraph, or essay about the topic we are learning. It could be fiction, persuasive, or informative. We do math on the fifth day.

Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic

Last year on fathers day hubby woke up at 3:00 am and drove us to see the hot air balloons in Sonoma County. We arrived while it was still dark so that we could see balloon glow and launch in the dark. In our opinion, this is the best part of the show. It’s simply magical.




We started our mornings with me reading a chapter from one of the books we checked out from the library. It is a great way to start those creative juices flowing, as well as getting ready to focus on learning more about hot air balloons. For this unit study I read Balloon Trip by Huck Scarry and Balloons and Ballooning by William Bixby. On the fourth day we worked on English. On the white board I wrote down the vocabulary words and their meanings. I had my older two write a fictional story using the vocabulary words.



The first thing we covered was the parts of the hot air balloon. I drew the parts of the hot air balloon on our white board and labeled it. I had this done before they woke up. Sometimes I draw and they label or they draw and I label. We do art on the first day. My younger two love playing with play dough, so we decided to use play dough and create our very own hot air balloons. When we are working on an art project I often times get my laptop and we watch some educational you-tube video while we get artsy.  To make the play dough you will need 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cups of salt, 1/2 cup of warm water, a few drops of oil, and some food coloring. You want to mix the salt with the flour. In a separate bowl mix the water with the food coloring and oil. Then slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. If it is still sticky add more flour.



We usually draw or paint what we are learning. There are so many different you-tube tutorials out there that you can choose from. You don’t have to have art skills to teach your children art. 🙂




Did you know that two brothers who were paper makers (Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier) wanted to know why smoke and small bits of paper rise from a fire? They made light silken bags and placed them over a fire and to their delight the bags rose. Hot air is lighter than cold air, and that is why hot air balloons are able to lift up and come down.

For this science experiment all you need is a tea bag, lighter, and plate. First take the staple out and empty out the tea. Stand the teabag upright on a plate. Light the top of the teabag. Once the flame reaches the bottom of the teabag it will rise up into the air. The flame will out and it will start to fall down. At this point, it will no longer be hot and you can grab it if you don’t want the ashes to be scattered all over the house. We did this more then ten times because each one of them wanted to take turns lighting it up and catching it.


Esther’s necklace is from N.Z. jewelry

Esther’s and Eve’s butterfly skirt suspenders are from Made with Love by AJ’s Mumma

Elizabeth’s beautiful pink skirt suspenders is from Ola + Oli Clothing

Elizabeth’s and Eve’s shirts are from This Tribe of Three



The history of hot air balloons is an interesting one. Ballooning began in France around 1783. The Montgolfier brothers created a hot air balloon out of paper. That same year, Jacques Charles launched the gas balloon. Balloons today are called either “Montgolfiers” (hot air) or “Charliers” (gas). Guess who were the first hot air balloon passengers? It was a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. Frenchman Farmers never heard of balloons, and the sight of a hot air balloon terrified them. They thought that it looked like a dragon or that it was some visitors from Mars or alien world. Can you image how scared they must have been? Many of them attacked the hot air balloons with pitchforks and some even tried to shoot at it. The French balloonist started bringing a bottle of champagne with them to offer to farmers.


The way we did the board game was we read about the history of hot air balloons. Then we printed out pictures represented those events on the board. We added go forward two or go back three onto the board game. We rolled the dice and then moved to the next place. Whenever we landed on one of the history pictures, we would have to explain what was happening.


  1. Montgolfier brothers made the first hot-air balloon. Charliers made the first gas balloon in 1783.
  2. A rooster, duck, and a sheep were the first balloon passengers in 1783.
  3. Louis XVI wanted to have condemned criminals fly the first balloon, however, Jean-Francois Pilatre De Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes were the first people to experience flight on Nov 21, 1783
  4. The first pilot was also the first one to die. In 1785 Jean-Francois Pilatre De Rozier flew in a different kind of hot air balloon. This balloon was filled with half hot air and half hydrogen. The balloon exploded 30 minutes after takeoff.
  5. In 1808 there was a balloon duel over Mademoiselle Tirevit (opera dancer).
  6. In 1970, Jim Woodman said that ancient Peruvians drew the giant figures in the Nazca desert by using hot air balloons. Many don’t believe this theory, but some still wonder if this could be possible.
  7. A hot air balloons was used to spy on the enemy in the French Revolution. This balloon was called Entreprenant. (1794)
  8. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln used 7 balloons known as the Balloon Corps. (1863)



Math is done on day five. We usually work on what they are currently learning. We just added hot air balloon problems and drawings. See example below.


We enjoy unit studies. This post was an example on how we homeschool.

Thank you for reading our post. We share a new post every Thursday at 8pm Pacific Time.

20 Responses

  1. robin Rue

    Can you believe that I have never seen a hot air balloon in real life. I should look to see if there is some kind of hot air balloon festival near me.

  2. This is our second year homeschooling…we’ve never really done unit studies, although I have so many pinned! I love the unit on balloons y’all did. I love your homeschool room too!

  3. What a really fun experience to get to be a part of a hot air balloon ride and the process that gets it up and going! I bet your kids really enjoyed learning about all of it!

  4. How awesome! I love that their designs are so detailed-how fun! I plan to homeschool my little one and will save this for later!

  5. oh how fun! I have always loved hot air balloons. I keep telling my husband that we need to go on a ride one day for a date night!

  6. Interesting idea doing unit studies. Love the hot balloon photos! Did you get a chance to go up in one?

  7. When I lived in Columbia (Missouri) they had a hot air balloon show in the fall for several years. We could see the balloons rise from our home. To this day, it is one of the most beautiful things I have witnessed.

  8. Khristopher

    I have always dreamed of experiencing a hot air balloon ride, but I find it too expensive 🙂 … Thanks for sharing this post with great photos.. 🙂

  9. I always wanted to go in a hot water balloons. Beautiful photos and it look so much fun!

  10. Those hot air balloons are so beautiful! I love your take on homeschooling. I really think this way of learning is so much better than traditional schools. The information is giving in a way that will hold the children’s attention.

  11. That lesson/unit on ballooning was very impressive. You obviously put a lot of work into teaching your children and it shows. Their artwork was really good.

  12. I’m homeschooled but have never done unit studies before. I would love to go on a hot air balloon someday though!

  13. Hot air balloons have always intrigued me. I hope to be able to ride in one in the future and see the world below from a different lens.

  14. Tereza

    Oh my god the tea bag experiment!! I so want to try it haha! I love the look of hot air balloons but I’m just way too scared, wish I was braver:) x

  15. The method you use for the homeschooling is really great. You relate what happen outside with the lesson you give inside the house. Very clever and inspired!

  16. Angela

    The hot air balloons are so beautiful! I love all of the different ideas for art projects surrounding them!

  17. There hot air balloon crafts are really gorgeous! I think it would be great to go out and see those hot air balloons in person. I would love to see them.

  18. Well you make homeschooling look like so much fun, which makes me wish I could do that!! All your lessons are so creative, I will have to try to cover some of these things on vacation, or weekends. I will talk to my kids about going and watching hot air balloons, since I went on one last summer.

  19. I think you just convinced me to change our homeschooling style a bit and do more unit studies! This was awesome!!! We do a variation of this, but I like that you spend each day on just one subject or aspect of the topic. I have 3 kids, all different ages, and this seems like a natural way to teach them all together and create memories they can reflect back on as they grow up. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Irina the photos of the hot air balloons are all so beautiful!!! My fave has to be your girl looking up with the crimped hair. Love how you incorporate lessons into your life.

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