Values and Valuables: A Balloon Debate

Come to a group decision about individual and group values


A balloon debate is a great way of getting everyone to think about – and express – what they value in their lives.

Getting Started

Discuss all the things you value in your lives. Keep a list. Now go through the list and ask yourselves why you value certain things. What’s great about mobile phones? (communication?), X-boxes? (fun? friendship?). Think a little more deeply about why you value the things you do.

See if you can find ‘things’ to represent the group values. Once each thing has a value, everyone can choose a value they like.  You can do this individually, or work in pairs.

Ballon Debate

You are going on a balloon ride to start a new world. You are holding the values that you will take with you. Look at the views, enjoy the view…

EMERGENCY – The balloon is sinking. You need to throw out a value, but which one? Can you reach a consensus as a group?

The ballon is still sinking! You must discard more values! Keep going until only three are left. Which three are they?

Did everyone agree with the decisions made? Which values were the easiest to lose and which were the hardest?


You can run the balloon debate where everyone represents a person in the community, and they must be sacrificed one by one until the balloon can float. Start by listing kinds of people in your community and setting out the hierarchy of who is more important / gets paid more / gets more respect. E.g. the mayor, a police officer, a bank manager, a nurse, a teacher, a small child, a cleaner, a scientist, a baker, a pop star.  When the balloon is sinking the group must reach a consensus on which of these people is most important to save. How do your decisions match with the status of each of these roles in your community?

Take it further

If you enjoyed the balloon debate, why not try out Check Your Privilege, or flex your debating muscles with Flip Flopping. You might also like to explore how young people are viewed in the media with In the Picture.

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