A Bonfire Night fireworks craft for kids!
Guy Fawkes Night is, without a doubt, my favourite night of the year. So, come autumn, I build up the anticipation for the kids by doing a fireworks craft or two. These ‘paper fireworks’ hand kites are one of our absolute favourite things to make.
Not only are they easy enough for even pre-schoolers to do, you also get to play with them afterwards! And yes, they are an awful lot safer than the real thing…
So whether for Bonfire Night on the 5th of November, or for Diwali, or the 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, Eid Al Adha, Chinese New Year or your own personal favourite firework night, read on to find out how to do this fabulous fireworks craft!
Not got much time or just want the bullet points on how to do this paper fireworks activity? Click here for the Quick Read Instructions.
In order to find inspiration for our paper fireworks craft, and because the old designs are just so great, we’ve studied pictures of vintage fireworks as an example of what fireworks look before they go bang.
Our classic Topsy and Tim’s Bonfire Night book is full of great – if retrospectively unwise – images, for example.
Our original inspiration, however, came from a trip to the marvellous art gallery / shop, MinaLima, in London, where we got to see a whole bucketful of ‘Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes’ fireworks props, just waiting to be set alight…
Anything Harry Potter related is an instant hit with my kids, but as, alas, we couldn’t take those bangers home with us, we made our own paper fireworks instead!
Playing with fire
Our paper fireworks hand kites evolved over a few Bonfire Nights. Starting as simple toilet roll firework rockets, we’ve developed our fireworks craft into versions mounted on sticks, and then to the latest (and, I think, best) version – the hand kite!
Heavily influenced by Japanese Koinobori (traditional ‘carp streamer’ windsocks), these hand kites are easy and safe for little ones to whizz around. They fly just like real fireworks!
Toilet roll tube or no toilet roll tube?
You can use a toilet roll or kitchen towel tube for this paper fireworks craft. However, we prefer to roll our own tubes out of thin card or paper. Making them this way means you can have thinner rockets, which we prefer, and it also gets the kids using a little more fine motor skills in the process.
But go ahead and use toilet rolls instead if you like – they’ll work just as well!
There’s honestly not a lot to this fireworks activity, and even a preschooler will be able to make (and fly!) these paper fireworks hand kites. So here’s how to make them…
Product links in this article are Amazon links to materials I used to make our paper fireworks craft. These are all affiliate links. You can find out more on my ‘about affiliate links’ page.
• Paper or thin card. An old magazine or catalogue works perfectly for this fireworks craft, as any images will be covered up later anyway.
• Colourful crepe, tissue paper or wrapping paper.
• Washi tape, coloured tape or stickers for decoration.
• String for the handle
• Streamers for the tail. Use ribbons, tinsel, coloured wool… or just cut thin strips from your crepe/tissue paper!
• Optional – a single-hole punch
• Optional – a star-shaped craft punch
This fireworks craft is a great project for using up crafting scraps and recycling bits from around the house. So don’t feel that you have to buy anything especially for this project. Raid your recycling bin for supplies instead!
1. Make the tube:
To make the body of your paper firework, roll your paper into a thin tube and use a bit of sticky tape to secure it.
The tube for this paper firework can be any size you want. For reference, we used A5 paper (old brochures) for our rockets – so roughly 20cm/8 inches long and rolled as tightly as the kids could manage.
If necessary, I get my kids to cut the paper down to this size beforehand just so it’s easier to roll. This fireworks craft makes lovely scissor skills practice, as it really doesn’t matter if any of their lines are wonky.
2. Cut the crepe / tissue paper.
Get the kids to cut a bit of colourful crepe paper or tissue paper so that it’s a good 10cm / 4 inches longer than their tube. A4 size works perfectly for this if you’ve used A5 paper for the tube.
3. Wrap the rocket!
The kids will need to place their tube on the edge of the crepe/ tissue paper, with roughly equal overhang at either end.
Have them roll the tube in paper, and then tuck the ends inside the ends of the tube to hold it in place.
4. Cut holes in the tube
Cut two holes at one end of the tube. Use either a hole punch or snip a hole with a pair of scissors. This can be tough to do if there are lots of layers, so you may have to help the kids.
It can be easier to make the holes before you wrap the tube in colour paper. If you do this, just use a pencil or other pointy thing to poke through the wrappings, so as to reopen the hole after you cover it up.
5. Decorate the tube!
Now the kids can use their washi tape, coloured tape or stickers to decorate the body of their paper firework. This is where our earlier research comes in useful to give the kids an idea of what a real firework looks like. Not that they have to stick to that, of course!
Washi tape or coloured tape is great because it also helps secure the crepe paper covering a little more. But stickers are also fun for kids to use, and cheap gold/silver star stickers work wonderfully with this theme.
Or alternatively, the kids could use craft punches, like our star-shaped cutter, to make their own colourful decorations that they can then stick on with a bit of glue.
6. Make the pointy cap
My kids are adamant that fireworks have little pointy hats (the downside of all that research and inspiration is they now know what they’re talking about!). You can leave this off and the firework will look just as good, but if your kids want hats for their paper fireworks, this is how we made them.
• Cut a circle out of coloured paper or thin card (tissue paper is too thin).
• Find the centre, and then cut away roughly one quarter of the circle.
• Use what’s left to form a cone, and secure with a bit of tape.
• Cut two small holes on opposite sides, about half way down. These are for threading the string handle through.
• Thread your string through the holes.
You want both ends to dangle down from the INSIDE of the cone, with a large loop of string (forming the handle) on the OUTSIDE.
7. Attach the cap and handle
So once the cap is made and threaded, the kids can join the cap and tube together. Get them to take those ends of string dangling from inside the cap and thread them through the two holes in the firework tube.
Make sure that, just as with the cap, they thread the string from the OUTSIDE in, because next you will knot the ends of the string together and you want the knot to eventually sit inside the end of the tube.
Once the two ends are threaded in, knot the ends together to finish the loop, and pull the string back out from the top (cap end) as far out as it will go.
Push the cap down the string onto the tube, and this paper firework kite finally has a hat and a handle.
8. Make the tail
Their rocket won’t be much of a firework or a rocket without a tail! So, to finish off their firework hand kite, they will need to use bits of parcel ribbon, colourful wool/yarn, strips of tissue/crepe paper or even old tinsel to make a tail.
The streamers can be cut to any length you like. Ours were about 50 or 60 cm (roughly 24 inches) long, but not all were the same length as we liked a bit of a raggedy look!
9. Insert the tail
Once the kids have gathered or made and cut their selection of streamers, knot them at one end to secure them all together.
Then, simply push the knot into the end of the tube without the holes.
The advantage of thinner tubes is that this is usually enough to keep the tail in very securely, but if it needs a bit of help, roll up a ball of paper and push it in with the knotted end. This should keep everything safely in place.
So, once the tail is secured in place, that’s it! This paper fireworks hand kite is ready to fly…
Let’s go fly a kite…
Kids won’t need much help figuring out how to fly these babies! Just swing ‘em round as fast as you can and they fly like perfect paper fireworks through the air.
Incidentally, the first time we did this paper fireworks craft, we poked a long skewer or thin stick into the middle of the tube instead. This worked okay for a while, but eventually we found that a particularly exciting wave will launch those rockets into space.
On the plus side, though, you could control the rocket much better with a stick, and so making them this way allows you to ‘dance’ your firework in lovely patterns.
If you’re looking for more fireworks crafts to do with the kids, take a gander at our fabulous, all-time favourite autumn activity – making Conker Comets.
What we love about these is that they really do fly because you lob them through the air! What you need to be aware of, though, is that they really do fly because you lob them through the air…
So while this one is the easiest and most fun autumn craft you can do, it’s definitely also an outdoor activity!
Looking for more fun things to make and do with the kids? Check out these great activities from Rhubarb and Wren!
Fireworks Craft – Quick Read Instructions
● A5 Paper
● Tissue paper
● Washi tape/stickers
1. Make a paper tube.
2. Cut a rectangle of tissue paper longer and wider than the tube.
3. Wrap around the tube, tucking the overlap into the ends securely.
4. Cut two holes at one end of the tube.
5.Decorate with washi tape/stickers.
6. Make a pointy cap:
● Cut a circle of paper, remove one quarter, then form into a cone.
● Make two holes on opposite sides of the cone.
● Thread string through, ends dangling from inside.
7. Pull the string ends through the tube holes. Knot ends together. Push the cap onto the tube, pulling out the string loop, making a handle.
8. Knot the streamers into a tail and insert into one end of the tube.
Now, go fly your firework hand kite!
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