Balloons Over Broadway


Speaking of living thankfully! My class was super into the book “Balloons Over Broadway” by Melissa Sweet about the evolution of Tony Sarg’s marionettes into the stars of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. The kids were even more excited when we took it to the next level and each kid made his own float.

We're Thankful

But of course, we didn’t go straight from enjoying the story to creating our own floats. Oh no! We couldn’t pass up the writing opportunity to describe who in our lives we’re thankful for… Okay, so recognizing the thankfulness we feel for important people in our lives was the easy part. Describing why was another story… and enough to make this teacher want to reach for a… I digress.

After reading and discussing the story, we brainstormed a collection of people for whom we feel thankful. Everyone wrote their own short essay, and, upon finishing, considered themselves thankfully done. But, oh no! Teachers just can’t leave well enough alone. Let’s just say that soul searching to find illustrations that speak to the heart and essence of our feelings is… hard! Yup, not sure if it was harder on the teachers or the kids but in the end, they wrote stories which, I believe, they felt good about. They copied their writing onto special paper and called it a day.

The next day, we discussed the story again and then the fun began.

Thanksgiving Floats

Everyone made their own float and brought the ideas they included in their writing to life. TJ was thankful for his family - the best family ever!! - but especially for his mom. He fashioned himself and his mother out of pipe cleaners and set them to dancing atop his float. Giving detail its due, he gave his mom a ponytail and himself stick up hair and added shiny mirror tiles to the dance floor - all while singing YMCA! He definitely drew from his memory when creating his float!

Sammie is so thankful for her mom and the puppy she’s anticipating in her near future that they took center stage on her float. She used a fat, chenille pipe cleaner to create her fluffy puppy.

Setting the Scene

After the kids had done their part, I finished it off with a cityscape background. I opened up a cardboard trifold display and covered it in blue paper from the paper rolls down the hall. It didn’t take long to sketch out the silhouette of a cityscape for the background and cut it out. Sketching on some windows with chalk added nice detail and including the book jacket to set off the heading was simple, colorful and a practical solution.In the beginning, I had planned to tack the floats to the wall in the hall, but, seeing the height of the tack strip, I decided that all of the kids' creativity would be lost to the ceiling, or at least to anyone a minimum of seven feet tall.

We have a long rectangular table in the hall which we use for extra group work. Now, it displays the backdrop, paper road complete with a yellow dotted line and…. tada… a parade of floats!What a fun way to recognize those for whom we feel thankful! We love our parade! Thank you Tony Sarg and “Balloons Over Broadway” for the inspiration.