Remember, remember the 5th of November…fireworks, bonfires, and big fun!
Although the obvious dangers of fireworks and bonfires make them largely unsuitable for young children (who should only attend a display under careful parental supervision) the run-up to Bonfire Night does create a multitude of opportunities to enjoy all the colour, shapes, tastes, smells, and sounds that we associate with November 5th.
Fireworks are fascinating! They whoosh, they spin, they whirl and, perhaps best of all, they explode into brilliant sparkly showers.
They make great inspiration for a whole host of activities, from art to loose parts, here are a few ideas to make your early years’ bonfire night go off with a bang!
Connecting toys such as Stickle Bricks and K’nex are ideal for creating fireworks as they come with lots of sticks and wheel shapes which can be clipped together in lots of different configurations.
However, children can also use loose parts to make their very own fireworks. Lay out a tray with straws and pipe cleaners and watch the children create their own designs.
We may feel guilty just sitting back and watching, but observing this kind of independent learning and play is actually an important part of our job. Our Observing Children course can help you gain a better understanding of what makes an effective observation and how it can be used to plan the next developmental milestone.
Hot dogs or Beef Burgers
Hot dogs and beef burgers are a staple of British Bonfire Night, and one that you can easily incorporate into your menu. Get finger buns and tinned hotdogs for no food waste. Fry some onions for those who want some, and help the children to add a thin line of ketchup or mustard if they want it
Make sure any dietary requirements are accounted for but try to include all the children, with gluten-free bread or vegetarian sausages, for example.
Toasted marshmallows are another food we associate with bonfire night, lightly toast the marshmallows under the grill, then serve to the children once they have cooled sufficiently. You could even make a bonfire table centrepiece with the children so they can pretend to toast their marshmallows at snack time.
Cadbury’s flakes make excellent logs for the bonfire, with different coloured icing, or strawberry laces serving very nicely as the flames. If that’s a bit too much chocolate go for the bitesize version, or cut up a Curly Wurly, which are much thinner and separate easily into sticks.
Another option is chocolate sparklers which are simply chocolate fingers dipped in hot water then hundreds and thousands and left to set on greaseproof paper.
Both can easily be taken home and shared with parents or siblings.
Paint with All the Colours
Away from the dinner table, it’s time to get arty!
Fireworks make an ideal subject for paintings, particularly against a black or dark blue background. Children can use brushes, small sponges or their fingers to recreate all the colours of fireworks. If you want to add glitter, make sure it’s biodegradable, all surfaces are covered before you open it and help the children to direct it straight onto the painting.
This can be an individual or group activity – tape together lots of large pieces of black paper (at the back) and lay them out across a large table or floor space that is prepped for messy play. Pour different coloured paints into trays and give the children a brush and other implements such as plastic forks, sticks, straws, and sponges to help them paint a section. Once everyone has finished, you will have created a beautiful wall mural together.
Alternatively, prepare some pieces of paper with lots of colours, then cover the whole design with black wax crayon. Using a pencil or the end of a paintbrush, the children can then have fun revealing different colours as they make marks.
Recycle the black playdough you made for Halloween as a night sky and encourage the children to make marks using plastic forks. Small coloured pompoms can also be added to create the centre point for dots and lines.
You can also glue different coloured threads, or pasta into paper in the different shapes of fireworks, and then paint them. Catherine wheels can also be made from paper plates and recycled birthday streamers.
For rockets, a cardboard toilet roll tube makes a perfect base for twists of coloured tissue paper.
If the weather is on your side, you can then have ‘rocket races’ in the yard for the children to run off those hotdogs and bonfire cakes!
Baby, You’re a Firework!
For active play indoors, Firework by Katy Perry is perfect for the children to dance around to. Give them thin scarves of different colours and they can role-play, using the scarves to act out how different fireworks behave – swirling, spinning, or streaking across the sky.
Dancing is wonderful for exercise and self-expression and even the youngest children in the nursery or classroom will enjoy the music and the movement. You can also provide instruments for those less inclined to dance to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy.
Watch from a Safe Distance
Sparklers are not recommended for young children (under fives) so stay clear of those. However, depending on what time the children go home, and when local fireworks displays kick-off, you may be able to stand in the garden, or look out of the window and see or at least hear real live fireworks.
If not, don’t worry, through the magic of technology, you can watch displays from any time and any place in the world.
Set up a cosy viewing area with plenty of cushions and make sure everyone can see the smart TV, laptop, or tablet. If you have a projector, you could even settle in ‘under the stars’ and prepare to watch the show. YouTube has many impressive displays for you to choose from for spectacular fireworks in comfort and safety.
Have a brilliant Bonfire Night!