Fireworks safety is an important topic to cover with kids, and a couple good resources for some firework safety tips are:
China is generally credited with the invention of fireworks. For discussing the history of fireworks with my kids, I found these links as useful resources:
It is difficult to do many hands-on science projects involving fireworks with young kids because, well, explosives and young children are not a good mix. Nevertheless, I came up with or happened upon a couple activities that were safe for kids (with adequate adult supervision).
- Dissect a firework to see it's components, and explain how it works at a high level.
- I chose to use an inexpensive daytime aerial parachute firework, and purchased two - one to cut into, and the other to set off so that we could see the firework in action. I found a page with a good diagram of an aerial parachute firework that helped us identify the component parts in our firework and explain how it worked. (The site, Powder Keg Fireworks, has good diagrams and explanations of several other fireworks as well.)
- Observe the making of a homemade smoke bomb, followed by a very basic discussion of what is occurring. The smoke bomb we observed was made from potassium nitrate (a.k.a. saltpeter) and sucrose (a.k.a. table sugar). This requires safety precautions, and should be done by an adult or responsible older kid only.
- Watch this video from Science Kids which shows some of the chemistry behind the color of fireworks.
- Do this experiment from Science Buddies to see how a couple different metal salts, when burned, create some of the different colors seen in fireworks. Table salt is one of the metal salts used in this experiment, so is very accessible.
- Introduce the math terms parabola and trajectory, and explain that math allows people to safely plan fireworks shows...this is one way to plant a seed about how useful math is and how fun it can be. (I like to use either our little hand-held whiteboards or our large 6-foot whiteboard to draw and help explain concepts like this, preferably with the kids copying what I am drawing.) I used this post on math and fireworks from Math for Grownups as the basis and background for this activity. I also like the author's suggestion of having a child toss a tennis ball up at different angles to help understand the concepts of a parabola and trajectory.
- Use the purchasing of fireworks as a math and finance lesson by giving a child a certain amount of money to spend , and help them figure out what they can and cannot afford to buy (using a variety of dollars and coins can help a child practice money identification and value, if they are ready for that). This involves addition, subtraction, greater than/less than, money concepts and so on. Examples: "If you have $5, how many $2 firework cones can you buy?" or "If you have $5, do you have enough to buy 3 packs of snappers at $0.50 each and a bag of smoke bombs for $1? How much money would you have left over?" Similarly, math skills can be practiced when enjoying the fireworks too: "You bought 6 smoke bombs, and you've set off 2. How many do you have left? If you share them equally with your sibling, how many can each of you have?"
- Make toilet paper tube firework art. There are several examples of this online, but we referred to this post on Crafty Morning.
- Use glitter and glue to make firework art, as shown in this Kids Activities Blog post. I like the way this art looks, but haven't done it with my kids, and haven't decided if I will since I have such a dread of glitter in the house because I will continue to find pieces of glitter for months afterwards.
- Any online search for fireworks art or fireworks crafts ideas will likely produce many other great options, as evidenced by the extensive list on this Pinterest site.