Balloon Pop: A Review Game

I learned about this game at a Pippin's math conference which I blogged about here. It's sad that that was almost a year ago and I'm just now using it. You can use a regular review worksheet or my personal favorite, a Powerpoint of review problems.


Students are in teams. You create a sheet with balloons on it and a place to write a team name. Or you can steal mine. Print this on paper and stick it in side of a page protector. Students write their name on it with dry erase marker.

Show a problem. Each team works it, which means every person works it. They agree on a team answer. Now reveal the correct answer. Whichever team(s) gets the correct answer gets to pop another team's balloon by using the dry erase marker to draw an X on it. If a team's balloons all get popped, then they can erase a popped balloon instead of popping someone else's balloon. But that's only an option after all of their balloons have been popped. Whichever team has the most unpopped balloons left at then end, wins.

My students loved this. The fun thing is to watch different teams try to form alliances and get other teams out. My students said it was like playing survivor because you never knew which teams were working together. Students were surprised by how fast time went by and thought it was fun. They actually asked to do it again.

Here is my balloon pop Powerpoint for solving systems of equations by substitution. I put the answers at the bottom of each slide and covered it with a white rectangle. Then I used the animations to make the box disappear and show the answer.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this idea! I think my students will love it!

    Love your blog!


  2. How do keep each student accountable? Do they pass in their worksheet at the end?

  3. Thank you Sarah! Hope you love it.

    It's at the teachers discretion. I have small class sizes and individual whiteboards so students worked one and erased. I am circulating the room to check and correct and keep students on task. But I think this would be a great idea for a new concept. Students get help from their teams and immediate feedback and whatever you don't finish becomes their homework. It's another strategy to keep students engaged so the directions are up to you.

  4. I have a couple classes that accountability is not an issue, but my class of 25 is always looking for an out. I have tried Jeopardy where everyone on the team does the problem on the white board (they can support each other) and then I get to pick whom I like to see if they have the correct answer. If that person does not, it doesn't matter if the rest of the team has it correct, EVERYONE must have it correct.
    It has created some drama that, Honestly, I I just don't want to encounter, and it is sometimes easier not to put myself in that situation.

  5. ER,
    Seems like giving a worksheet that they have to turn in might be a better option. Or just make them use paper to show their work instead of the whiteboard. They can turn it in and you can throw it away without them ever knowing that you didn't take a grade on it. Or if you use the white board you could have one person do the first step and then pass it to the next person to do the next step. If every member uses a different color, you can easily check to see if every student contributed to every problem. You can always try to make ideas work best for you and then if they don't, give it up and try the next idea. Don't let yourself get dramatized! lol

  6. my honors kids LOVE this review game. they request it before every upcoming test!

  7. what do you do if multiple groups have the right answer? do they each get to pop balloons? Do you ever see a group "gang up"on another one?

  8. Mrs. Musselman,
    Yes, every group who gets it right gets to pop a balloon and yes sometimes they gang up on a group. That's the fun part, they try to form alliances to get one team out. But once the team is out, they get to start erasing their popped balloons so you never know how it will end up!

  9. I tried this game with my classes and they LOVED it! However, I need some clarification of the rules.
    Can a group (as a strategy) pop their own balloons? Once all their balloons are popped and they can unpop a balloon, can they only unpop one? Or can they, after each right answer, unpop another one?

    1. And with only 6 balloons, if all the teams are getting all the problems right, they're all popped after only a few questions....Should I use more balloons?

    2. They can unpop another balloon after each right answer. I suppose a team could pop their own balloons but the point of the game is to have the most balloons that aren't popped so that doesn't really make sense.

      You could use more balloons or just come up with new rules. Have the kids make some suggestions. I guess if they are getting every problem right then they don't need to review very much. lol

  10. Can you email the file to me, please? Box isn't working and I signed up for it. Fruedien001@aol.com Thanks.