Classroom Ideas for Bonfire Night


The Gunpowder Plot

We are all aware of the events that occurred on the 5th of November in 1605 and it is imperative that we carry on telling the story that is so important to our British heritage. Due to the harshness of the story, it may need to be explained in a way that isn’t overly controversial for the younger primary school students. TeacherBoards Community has created a classroom friendly post on ideas and facts about bonfire night and why we celebrate the 5th of November as a tradition.

A Short History

The gunpowder plot was planned by Guy Fawkes and a group of his fellow conspirators. They were discontent with the then-current parliament that was in place at this time and felt restricted in the practises and opinions they were allowed to follow. After King James I was crowned and there were no further inclinations on any great change for the public, Guy Fawkes and his group set out to assassinate the king. The conspirators managed to sneak in over 30 barrels of gunpowder into the cellar of the Houses of Parliament in a brutal attempt to blow up the entire building. Fawkes was arrested along with his accomplices where they awaited a severe justice for their terrible crimes.

Why do we celebrate it?

The predominant ways in which we celebrate the 5th of November are metaphorical of the events that unfolded on this night in 1605. The firework displays that we see light up the skies on bonfire night are symbolic for the gunpowder that had been smuggled into the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to destroy the hierarchy. Traditionally, fireworks required needed the same chemicals that were used in gunpowder with added pigmentation to create a brightly coloured display. The bonfire and the burning effigy of Guy Fawkes was originally a celebration on King James I surviving the assassination attempt and is now a family-friendly social gathering where we are able to remember, remember the 5th of November.

Health and Safety

Fireworks are beautiful but explosive. It is vital that children stay safe on bonfire night and learn all about the dangers that can potentially occur on bonfire night. According to the Bonfire Night Safety webpage there has been 990 firework related injuries in recent years. You can find out more information on firework safety and a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to keeping safe and sound on bonfire night. It may be a good idea for students to make a bonfire safety list in school that they can take home with them to re-use. Teaching children the protocols behind handling fireworks and the dangers that may occur is an essential life lesson, especially for the families who celebrate the event every year. One classroom idea would be to create an image that is filled with potential risks that might appear during a bonfire event or firework show and ask your class to circle all these dangers in red. The objective to this is to make younger citizens aware of hazards that could affect themselves and others around them, and will then be able to apply their knowledge to real life scenarios.

Arts and Crafts

These bonfire night-related arts and craft designs are a great idea to use in the classroom as they are easy to make and environmentally friendly. All you need to make these pieces of art is brightly coloured paints and lots of recycled bits and bobs (tissue rolls and kitchen rolls are more efficient for the rocket ships).

bonfire night classroom activities education
Source: GreatAuntAdmin, ClaresLittleTots


A Firework Display – without the fire

For something a bit more scientific why not create this safe to make water fireworks. No gunpowder required – all you will need is:

1.A glass jar full of water

2.Cooking Oil

3.Different coloured food colouring

Make sure your jar is clear so you can see the explosion of colour clearly. Follow the instructions for this Smashed Peas and Carrots blog to make your own water fireworks.

TUTORIAL: How to Make Water Fireworks PLUS Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids Book Review and Giveaway

science classroom activities eduction
Source: SmashedPeasAndCarrots


Although bonfire night started off as an infamous tradition to celebrate a failed gunpowder plot, it is now a child-friendly event that we use to celebrate our historical heritage. It is vital that we teach younger minds about firework safety so we can enjoy the delights of the brightly lit skies and keep the family friendly tradition a positive one.


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