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Pins and Balloons


  1. Begin by giving everyone a balloon and asking them to blow it up.
  2. Then give each participant a pin or large needle
  3. Tell everyone that it is their job to protect their balloon till the end of the game – you win the game if your balloon survives to the end.
  4. Explain that the game will last 7 minutes. Do not mention the pin. If anyone asks what the pin is for or if they have to burst other people’s balloons, simply reiterate the instruction that
  5. Participants win the game if their balloon survives to the end.
  6. When everyone has their balloon and pin ready, shout “your time starts now!”
  7. After 7 minutes, end the game and see who has their balloon still intact.
  8. Collect the pins and come back together as a group to debrief

Final discussion

  • How did you feel about the game? Did these feelings influence how you acted?
  • How does fear or excitement motivate our actions?
  • Is violence a natural instinct or something we are taught by society?
  • Is there anyone who didn’t try to burst other balloons? Why did you decide not to attack others?
  • Did anyone talk to other people during the game?
  • How can talking reduce violence?
  • Does this situation remind you of anything similar in real life?

Tips for facilitators

  • Before running this activity it is important to think carefully about health and safety and individual personalities of the children in your group. It may not be suitable if there are children who get distressed by loud noises or for those with behavioural difficulties as there are sharp objects involved. The nature of the game requires that no boundaries are discussed before starting the ‘survival time’ so you need to consider if your group is able to cope with this – the last thing you want is for someone to get hurt.
  • The game time is usually quick and frantic; if you have a small group you may only need a few minutes, for larger groups you may need longer.

Resources Required

enough pins/needle for everyone, a balloon for everyone


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