Happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, and even stressed.  Emotional intelligence is a vital skill in a child’s development.

The-Feeling-Family-Balloon-SacksUnderstanding feelings and motivators are an integral part of daily life and a more highly tuned emotional intelligence promotes empathy, social skills, self-awareness and emotional accountability. It also indirectly aids with self-esteem and perspective, through understanding other people’s emotional motivators.

So… (drumroll please)… this is where the Feeling Family Balloon Sacks come in. The concept behind these playdough-filled balloon stress balls is that although they are a family, they are all different. Different feelings and characteristics are associated with each one and they’re helpful for explaining emotions visually as well as being a conversation starter about and how they might impact different characters. Genetically linked with crazy colored raffia hair… a fun element of unity. They also double up as cricket balls, according to my son.

You can choose any emotions that you like. As you can see, I’m no artist and the expressions are very simply drawn on with a permanent marker. The cute eyes add an element of fun and can be picked up really cheaply from most supermarkets, dollar shops or craft stores.

Get the little ones involved in this activity as much as possible. The first part of the activity involves making 3 ingredients Oatmeal Taste Friendly Playdough– something they’ll DEFINITELY want to be helping with.

Alternatively, you can just use standard bought playdough, dry flour or even rice. If you are using dry flour or rice, placing the opening of the balloon on a funnel will help to pour in the ingredients.


  • Rice or Playdough – enough to fill your balloons (click here for a 3 ingredient taste friendly oatmeal playdough recipe)
  • As many latex balloons as you’d like (the larger ones make filling a little easier)
  • Some coloured string for crazy hair
  • Black permanent marker
  • Crazy eyes
  • Superglue (adults only to be trusted with this… and even then- careful!)


  1. Roll the playdough into little balls, as this makes it easier to stuff them into the balloons
  2. Using both hands, pull open the balloon and whilst holding the opening, reach down towards the playdough balls and scoop them in, using your fingertips. You need to be quite forceful doing this… perhaps enlist the help of the little ones!
  3. Once you’re happy with how they’re filled, squeeze out as much air as possible and tie the balloon up
  4. Rinse away any playdough that’s left in the opening
  5. Using your colored ribbon, string or raffia, tie this to the balloon for the crazy hair – as little or as much as you like!
  6. Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand and then draw on your chosen expressions or emotions with the marker. If you are going to use crazy eyes, simply put small dots as a guide for where you’ll be gluing them on
  7. Working one by one, dot the superglue over the black dots of the eyes before attaching the crazy eyes of your choice.

FEELING accomplished? Sorry… couldn’t resist.

I know we did- once I’d unglued myself from the dining room table.

This article was shared by Nicky McEnery of

Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm coloring book reinforces emotional intelligence.