The Jam Room

Imagine a place to learn that is full of toys coming in all colors, shapes, and sizes! It’s all there for you to play with, and you can use anything.Balloons

You get to play and create whatever you want, whenever you want. If you want to stay up all night, you can.Dog Pile

There are no assignments or tests, but sometimes there are fun contests with opportunities to win prizes.Victor

What if you were also surrounded by unbelievably talented people who smile a lot?Fun

And how cool would it be if those people came from all over the world, and they were so excited to teach you what they know?Faces

If you’ve never been to a balloon twisting convention, you’ll need to imagine the wonder of the Jam Room. There’s nothing else like it. It’s no secret that I have a second life working as a balloon artist, and I spent last weekend at my 7th Twist and Shout Balloon Convention. Thanks to Qualatex and Betallic, the Jam Room was ever stocked and ready for playing and creating.

Jam Room

Back in the “real world,” I find myself wondering — what if our classrooms looked like the Jam Room? Couldn’t we learn a ton while having fun?Goofy

What if student presentations were full of this much joy?

At balloon conventions, world cultures are not studied, but experienced. Last week my students had an assignment to interview people from different cultural backgrounds, whether an Indian neighbor, the owner of a local Chinese restaurant, or Dad’s Russian co-worker.  I did my homework too, in the Jam Room. I asked lots of questions about parties in Brazil, entertainment styles in Spain, and design technique in Japan.International Balloons

Most of my communication crossed language barriers. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

Bunny Costume

Balloons are a unique medium, but they regularly offer us some simple reminders:

1) Enjoy the little, wonderful things in life.Owl

2) Create freely, and don’t be afraid of popping.Balloon Car

3) Anything is possible when you realize that you are part of a global community bursting with ideas.

Whether you play with balloons or not, wishing all of you a chance to “jam” every day.


Credits: I took these photos and the first video at various Twist and Shout conventions between 2006 and 2014. The second video is thanks to the team at Balloon Manor.  I don’t know all of the balloon artists whose work is pictured above, but I can offer hats off to the following artists, and request that if any readers out there know others, please add them below in the comments: Larry Moss and the Balloon Manor team for the Jack in the Beanstalk Sculpture, Carolynn Hayman for the lobster, Mark Verge for the dinosaur, Love for the Sapporo sign, Phileas Flash for the faces class photo, Brian Getz for the kilt,  Melissa Vinson for the owl, Andrea Noel for the zombie, Victor Forja for the motorcycle, Nate Culpepper  for the giraffe, and Robbie Furman for the car.  And I made the little monster in the last photo.

Categories: Global Citizenship, USA

4 replies »

  1. Wow!!!! The Jam Room sounds like so much fun!!!!
    I love the balloon creations, especially the little owl holding a balloon, it’s so cute!!!!

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