Hot Air Balloon Disaster

Helping students to make judgements about relative importance

All of the important figures in history are in a hot air balloon whose engine is broken. Who do you throw out first to ensure the rest survive?! History is full of people and a key skill is to get our students to think about the relative importance of these individuals. Who is more important? Who is less important This (silly!) activity gets your students to use their historical thinking to make judgements about importance by imagining a fictional situation.

Copy from a student's book. (Richard Kennett)
Copy from a student’s book. (Richard Kennett)

Example: End of the year revision activity

  1. At the end of the year I reintroduce my students to ten of the most important figures we have studied that year. I give them a sheet of paper with their images.
  2. They draw a hot air balloon in the top corner of a big bit of paper.
  3. They then decide who is the least important (they would get thrown out first) and the most important (they stay in the basket).
  4. They stick down all the individuals in order.
  5. They then draw speech bubbles from the mouths of the individuals where they explain their position.

Thanks to my students at Redland Green School, Bristol whose work I have used here.

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