So, this is a great project if you can get over the fact that your child will look slightly like a drug mule. I will pause while you consider that...
Oh good you're still here. Here is what you need to do in order to make this game.
We were recently given a bag of balloons by some well-meaning friends who didn't realize that Cordelia is strange about balloons...obsessed even. We try to avoid giving her balloons at all costs as it becomes a strange and lingering inconvenience on a grand scale (take the balloons in the car, to bed, bathroom, etc. and panic when they are out of sight). So I stashed the balloons in our bottomless junk drawer waiting until her 20th birthday or something.
Then, for some reason I had a stroke of genius (hey, it's genius for sure---many experts probably agree) and decided to fill the balloons with rice and invent a game that we could play while I am tied to the couch for regular nursing sessions. I created a funnel (this ability to create tools is what separates humans from most animals people) and funneled the rice into the balloons and tied them off. I would like to note that it was brown rice, we're that healthy.
Rice filled balloons
Next I decided to write names on paper. We are currently working on letters and some word recognition so this was a good choice, but you could do numbers, shapes, colors, calculus, etc. I made something like 12 sheets and laid them on the kitchen floor. While I laid them down I identified each word for Cordelia who was carefully watching her crazy mother.
Then I handed her the tiny rice filled balloons (here is the part where she began to look like a drug mule) to my daughter. Then I sat back and called out the names. I would say something like " Put a blue balloon on an S, or "Put a red balloon on grandma and the orange and blue balloons on grandpa." See we even worked on colors and numbers, genius. We mixed up the papers a few times to challenge her a bit. Seriously she was happy to play this game for close to an hour, that is an eternity to an almost 3 year old.
Later I filled a few more balloons with rice and she played balloon family for quite some time with none of the dramatic intensity that she has for air filled balloons.
Playing with her "balloon family"
*Obviously, a project like this requires parental supervision if you have mouthy bitey kids, or whatever