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Any time an opportunity arises to inflate an object, involve the children in deciding what tool to use. Count the number of pumps it takes to inflate the object. Talk about how the object changes when air is being pumped into it (e.g., shape, feel, bounciness).

Questions You May Ask 

⚙ What could you use to pump air into the [balloon, ball, tire]? 
⚙ What other objects could you pump air into with this [bike pump, balloon pump, straw]?

⚙ What else could you use this [bike pump, balloon pump, straw] for? 
⚙ How does the [shape, feel, bounciness] of the object change when you pump air into it?

⚙ How many pumps does it take to fill the [ball, tire, balloon, floatie, matress] with air?

Related Children's Books

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2 years and up

Time and Place

⚙ Any time of day

⚙ Any time of year

⚙ Indoors or outdoors


⚙ At least one tool for pumping air
An object to pump air into (e.g., ball, balloon, bicicle tire, air matress, pool floatie)



⚙ Supervise children at all times 

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Play-based Context

The mother of a young toddler was changing the tires of her car. The toddler insisted on being part of the process. The mother let the child play with an air pump and push the handle up and down—safely supervised, of course!

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