Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Balloon Bustin' Biographies

Idella Kruger


Using balloons as inspiration, students choose a famous person to research. Students view videos, read electronic encyclopedia summaries, and/or biographies of a famous person from the past, then create a one to three page report.


The student uses a variety of strategies to prepare for writing (for example, brainstorming, making lists, mapping ideas, grouping related ideas, keeping a notebook of ideas, observing surroundings, answering questions posed by others).

The student uses supporting ideas, details, and facts from a variety of sources to develop and elaborate the topic.

The student creates a logical organizational pattern appropriate to expository writing (including beginning, middle, end).


-Number of balloons for students in class
-A ball of string or yarn
-Index cards
-One sharpie black marker
-One air tank (if balloons not prepared by balloon shop)
-Several biographical video tapes (for students)
-VCR and TV for viewing tapes
-Electronic encyclopedia software
-Biography information Sheet (see associated file)
-Biography Grade Checklist (see associated file)


1. Prepare at least eight balloons that will remain over your desk with a short string and index card(s) attached to each. Leave cards blank until students complete their reports.
2. Find videotapes of famous people.
3. Prepare any audio biographies available for tape player.
4. Arrange for media center time for research.
5. Load electronic encylopedia on classroom computers and bookmark famous people.


Gain attention:
1. Students will enter a room while balloons float on the ceiling with string attached to index cards.

Present objectives
2. Go over directions for writing a report on a famous person and explain the importance of having a begining, middle, and an end. Stress that writing a research report can be creative and can be presented in a creative way. Reports have some of the same elements as essays. Review strategies for writing a paragraph and the importance of a creative beginning, a fact-filled middle and a definite end of the report. Also review the different types of sources students will be using and point out the need for more than one source to obtain information about something.

3. Explain the outcome of the report project…a balloon party. The name of a famous person will be written on an index card as each report is completed and presented to class. When all students have presented their reports, the class will go outside and have a party and the balloons will be the decorations.

Relate to present knowledge
4. Pass out the Biography Information Sheet (associated file) and review with students the type of information needed to complete the sheet. This will serve as a summary guide to complete the rest of the report. Explain that each student will choose a different famous person.

5. Hand out a copy of the Biography Grade Checklist (see associated file) and review the grading guide.

Engage students in learning
6. This lesson requires a basic knowledge of expressing thoughts and collecting facts in an organized manner. (Rough draft first)

7. Modifications can be made in the amount of class time used for the activity.

8. The reading and research could be assigned for out-of-class time and then the remaining parts of the lesson could be completed in class.

Provide for practice
9. An extension would be to continue to improve writing skills by engaging in opportunities such as worksheets on parts of speech, list of descriptive words, review of capitalization and punctuation rules and grammar rules.

Provide feedback
10. Pair students and give them the Peer Review Checklist (associated file) to complete. Go over the criteria and have pairs 'peer edit' each other's report.


1. Biography Grading Sheet with point value will be used for assessment of report.
2. Teacher observation and Peer Review Checklist will be used as formative assessment of cooperative workers.


Students who have difficulty reading should listen to audio tapes of biographies.
Students who have difficulty writing should be paired with those who have higher skills in writing.

Web Links

Web supplement for Balloon Bustin' Biographies
Study Guides

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