Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 August 2023


'In the balloon' is a drama activity where small groups imagine they are in a hot air balloon that is about to crash into the river. The task is to convince an audience as to why you should be the one to remain in the balloon. 

Stage 1

Sort class into mixed gender groups of 4 or 5 depending on the number of learners and the space you have. If you have access to hoops or mats for the groups to stand in/on, use these for added effect.  

Stage 2: Explain the game.

The balloons are all overweight and only one person can remain safe inside or the balloon will crash into a river. Each person needs to think of a convincing back story as to why they should stay in the balloon. They will tell this story to one other group who will decide who should survive.

Stage 3

Give learners 5-10 minutes to think about their story. They can make notes if this helps them. 

Stage 4

After the given time frame, explain 2 groups will work together to hear the stories. Ask groups to go back to their ‘balloons’ with one group in the balloon space and the other group sat prepared to listen to the stories. 

Stage 5

Learners take it in turns to take their story and try to convince the other group they should be chosen to stay in the balloon. They take it in turns to share their reasons trying to be as convincing as possible.  

Stage 6

When all stories have been told, the listening group decide which learner was most convincing. That learner wins. The groups swap and repeat.

Stage 7

If time allows, you could ask the whole class to come back together and explain the winners from each balloon will now share their story to the whole group. This time they are all in one balloon and the remainder of the class will decide on one overall survivor.

Stage 8

Discuss with the whole group what it was about the winning stories that convinced them. If any stories included gender links, such as ‘I am a mother’ did that impact their decisions? Explore this with further questioning and discussion.   

Gender Responsive Notes: Ensure gender neutral language throughout; mixed gender groupings to ensure engagement with learners of all genders; ensure answers are taken from a variety of learners of different genders; the opportunity to discuss any decisions based on gender stereotypes applied during the story telling. 


Gender Stereotypes: a generalised view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by, women and men. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits learners’ capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their education opportunities, professional careers and/or make choices about their lives. For example, it is a common stereotype that men should be confident and aggressive, and women are quieter and passive. 

Gender Neutral Language: language that avoids bias towards a particular sex or gender. In English, this includes use of nouns that are not gender-specific to refer to roles or professions, formation of phrases in a coequal manner, and discontinuing the blanket use of male or female terms. For example, it’s referring to someone you don’t know as “they” rather than using the pronoun “he” or “she,” or  perhaps addressing a group as “everyone” rather than saying, “Hey, guys, and adapting gendered terms such as businessman to business person instead.

Want to know more about the GLE Team?

In a groundbreaking initiative, the British Council, under the English Connects programme, undertook a transformative mission to champion gender-inclusive practices in Sub-Saharan Africa with a cohort of 41 dedicated teacher educators and teachers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. This dynamic group referred to as the GLE Team worked together to design this resource.

Read about our Creating Gender Pedagogy Resources for Teachers project: