Hot air balloon disaster – lesson idea

This idea continues the theme of ending Year 9 in a meaningful way by attempting to look at the big picture of what they have learnt during Key Stage 3. Yesterday I got Year 9 to look at the ‘big story‘ of the last 1000 years. With any good story there are always characters so today I decided I would plan a lesson around individuals. I decided to nick an idea that we use in KS4 – a hot air balloon disaster. It’s not new and we nicked it from others but it works well.

I looked through the schemes of work we teach and chose nine key individuals, printed their pictures on a bit of paper and hey presto the lesson was ready.




STARTER: Who are these nine individuals?

In fours the kids discussed who each of the nine individuals was and then fed back their discussions to the class.



Teacher introduction: Set up the scenario (I use a picture of a hot air balloon for extra drama). The nine most significant individuals in history are in a hot air balloon together. Unfortunately the engine breaks and there is only enough hot air to carry one person to safety. Your job is to decide who should be thrown to their deaths in order of significance, least first.

Using a double page get the kids to draw a balloon basket in the top left and then they stick on the nine heads in their preferred order. The important bit is that each must have a speech bubble explaining why they were thrown out.


This works really well and get’s them to compare importance in a fun, grissly way. Here’s the best outcomes: