6 Best Writing Lessons Ever
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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Balloons Over Broadway- A Macy's Day Parade Lesson

Kylene Reed
November 9, 2020


I have shared with many of you in my workshops, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade activity that I do. Here it is, all in one place for you to find! Be sure to share your samples with us!! Love to Write and Read All Day

Image result for balloons over broadwayThe lesson is a narrative elaborative detail writing activity with a special focus on the commentating by the parade hosts. This lesson uses the book Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet along with YouTube videos of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

After sharing the book and video, be sure to MODEL your sample with the help of the students to create an elaborative segment using a photo of a balloon from the Macy’s Parade. This sample is written from the perspective of the host of the parade. The students will then create their own balloon and write an elaborative paragraph about their creation as if they were the commentating host.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. First, share a book about a parade and then show a video depicting a parade route (e.g. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). While previewing the video, have students notice the many balloons present along the parade route. Pay close attention to the commentating by the host. As students listen for particular language used by the hosts, chart some of the vocabulary mentioned (Host Language).
  2. Next, share a photograph of a balloon from a past parade (go to: http://www.amny.com/news/thanksgiving-parade-photos-of-balloons-and-more-from-macy-s-90th-celebration for several great photos of previous year’s parade).
  3. Display an image of the balloon and MODEL an elaborative detail segment using the detail-generating questions below to help trigger responses from the students.
  4. Once finished with the MODELED questions, use their feedback to write a paragraph as if they were the host commentating the parade route. Use some of the charted examples of “host language” the students noticed as they were watching the video. For example, At the center of the parade route and slowly making its way down 34th Street is __________. See the sentence starters below for more samples.

Detail-generating Questions:

  • What character does the balloon represent?
  • What is the significant importance of the character? (cartoon, movie, sports character, etc.)
  • How big is the balloon?
  • What colors are used in the balloon?
  • What facial features are present on the character?
  • How is the balloon dressed?
  • What distinguishing characteristics do you notice?

Sentence Starters:

Look who’s coming down the street now, it’s the _______________.

Motoring down the parade route is _____________.

Next is the highly acclaimed ______________.

Basking in the sky above NYC  is _____.

Inspired by ______, up next is ___________.

Time for the most spectacular balloon of all, _________.

Making his annual pilgrimage is the highly acclaimed _________.

And here comes __________.

Heading down 34th Street (use the school address) is _____________.

MODELED SAMPLE: (based on the troll balloons from the 2017 parade)

Making their way slowly down 34th St. and new to the parade route this year are the highly acclaimed trolls from the Trolls movie. Clinging to the brightly colored caterpillar bus, the trolls glide among the crowd, looking slightly nervous to be so high in the sky. Poppy is sporting her floral headband to tame her mop of fuchsia hair, while Branch is decked out in his usual patchwork pants. Guy Diamond is trailing behind, his shiny teeth smiling brightly.

5. After completing the MODELED SAMPLE, have the students use construction/craft paper to design their own parade balloon. Encourage them to create large replicas that they could later be used as part of a school parade. Once the balloons are complete, tie string or yarn to the samples, representing the strings seen on the parade route.

6. Have the students write their own commentated paragraph describing their balloon as if they were hosting the parade.


Have the students parade through the school (or down the hall),  displaying their balloon creations. As they pass other classroom doors, let them read their paragraphs to the students in the class.

Here are my modeled posters that students used in my class! All of the sentence starters came from words or phrases we heard when listening to the parade video from last year. 

                    narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters     narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters   

                   narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters     narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters     

4th Grade Student Sample: Find other samples coming to my FB group Love to Write and Read All Day.

narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters     

art connection, narrative, descriptive language, vocabulary, point of view/perspective, word referents, sentence starters



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