Balloons Over Broadway“, Saint Ambrose Students  Complete Their School-Wide Problem Based Learning Unit on the Macy’s Day Parade!

photo credit:  Getty Images,

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?  For most of us, there are memories that abound that include family, gratitude, and food!  For 50 million of us, the Macy’s Day Parade plays some role in Thanksgiving Day across the US, and 3.5 million people have the exciting opportunity to participate in the action in New York City!

Saint Ambrose students celebrated STEAM day on November 8th by kicking off the holiday season with STEAM Problem Based Learning Unit (PBL)  about the Macy’s Day Parade, through activities and problem solving which included the book, Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet.  The book tells the true story of the puppeteer of the Macy’s Day parade, and proved to be an engaging centerpiece for lots of creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and REACHing in the classrooms this month!

National STEM/STEAM Day is celebrated annually nationwide on November 8th. This day was created to help students advance in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. As the first STEAM school in the state of Ohio, Saint Ambrose School celebrates this every day, but, in honor of the day, a school-wide PBL (Project Based Learning), under the leadership and guidance of our Technology Director, Amy Morgan, was kicked off and later executed across Kindergarten- 8th-grade classrooms!

Some of the grade-level plans included:

-The Kindergarten class decorated balloons that were used in a videoed parade with a city skyline in the background.

-Second graders using map skills to create alternate parade routes through the streets of New York.

-Fifth-graders utilizing a budget to determine how a family can spend its time visiting the Thanksgiving Day parade.

-Eighth grade created an interactive map tracing the parade route and identifying important landmarks using the Google My Maps program!

Encore classes used math and chemistry to create water balloon paintings in Visual Arts class and students walked the distance of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade route while wearing heart rate monitors in Physical Education. Overall, the whole school was so EXCITED to undertake these projects in celebration of STEAM education and the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade!

Please see the specific units completed at each grade level and ask your children about their projects!  They are proud of their work! This year, like every year, we have so much to be grateful for.  This year, you may find your children have a renewed appreciation and interest in the Macy’s Day Parade as they have spent weeks working on projects around this celebratory event!


Thank YOU JESUS for our faculty and staff for leading this incredible PBL for all of our students as a way to gather together as a family and complete!  We are so thankful for the creativity of our students who fully immersed themselves in this engaging project.  What a fun learning experience it was for our school family.   May God bless you this holiday season as we all say THANK YOU JESUS for all He has given to us!  We are certainly thankful for YOU!  Enjoy everything about this holiday, and don’t forget to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!


Balloons Over Broadway PBL Unit by Grade Level Projects


  • Kindergarten decorated balloons and hung them in the hall to appear like floats in a parade.  With the assistance of the Technology Director, Mrs. Amy Morgan, we will video our parade with the city skyline in the background.  

First Grade

  • The children created a movable marionette using basic materials. 

Second Grade

  • Map Skills and Force: Students created alternative parade routes through the streets of New York City. They wrote directions for the parade route and were challenged to drive a Hot Wheel car on the map using a magnetic force. 

Third Grade

  • News reporters – students researched and then created a script on the following topics: balloons, floats, marching bands, performers, weather, traffic, and route. Students worked in small groups to write a newspaper article and then recorded their newscasts with excitement!

Fourth Grade

  • Science fourth graders completed a WebQuest on the Macy’s website and then created a float display for the parade
  • Social Studies researched the history of the Macy’s Parade and created a timeline of the important events from each decade.
  • Math – Students answered a series of mathematical questions regarding the route of the parade.  These questions will not only cover parade route, but number of people there is also standing room for along the parade route, number of hours the parade will take, years of the parade since inception, number years it has been televised, minutes it takes to inflate all balloons and how much helium in each balloon.

Fifth Grade

  • Science the fifth graders completed a WebQuest on the Macy’s site and then created a parade float with a partner.
  • Social Studies researched the history of the Macy’s Parade and created a timeline of the important events from each decade.
  • Fifth grade ELA created parade posters/ads for the parade.
  • Math – The students calculated the cost of a trip for themselves and family members to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Costs include bussing or airfare with Uber/taxi costs, hotel accommodations, and meals. They were given a budget and determined if they would have money left over for souvenirs, etc. 

Sixth Grade

  • In religion, students studied inspiration and how it affects those who the Holy Spirit touches.
  • In English, students studied the history of the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade, and how it has grown throughout the years. There was a slideshow showing notable balloons throughout the years on the Promethean Boards.

Seventh Grade

  • In science, students studied ecology and resource use. Students learned about the sponsors and the environmental costs of the parade. 
  • In math, students created ratio tables and graphs to show the relationship between waste, cost, balloons, and people. 

Eighth Grade

  • In social studies, students researched the route of the parade on the streets of Manhattan. Using the Google My Maps program, they created an interactive map tracing the parade route and identifying important landmarks. 

Physical Education

Students walked 2.65 (the distance of the Macy’s day parade route) miles while wearing heart rate monitors. They counted how many steps they take, how many calories they burn, how long they spend in particular heart rate zones. They also figured out how many laps in the gym will take walk the route of the Macy’s day parade route.

Visual Art

 8th graders created a digital artwork using a photoshop platform.