By the time our son was three it was very clear that he couldn’t do fireworks, as any loud or unexpected noises would send him into a panic, let alone the barrage that always seemed to go off just as we were trying to settle him at bedtime for what seemed like nights on end in November. However, we are really chuffed that aged 11 he can now attend fireworks displays (with headphones), and really gets excited and happy about choosing the ones we have at home. He is even planning on lighting some this year with his Dad. It has been a long road of gradually getting him used to the noise and big feelings he has, but very rewarding.
What seems to have worked is a combination of things. Gradually getting used to the sounds and smells, starting with sparkling candles, party poppers, balloons and indoor fireworks. Then outside, actual sparklers and the quieter fireworks that you can buy from some supermarkets and retailers. Then starting to have a few louder fireworks.
As he is older he now understands that it is easy to confuse feelings of anger/fear/excitement and that sometimes we feel a mixture of these things. Sometimes when he was feeling excited, the big feeling overwhelmed him and he thought he should be afraid and felt unable to cope.
In the run up to Bonfire Night we also talk about fireworks and look at pictures on the computer, especially now You Tube. Our son is heavily into Minecraft and he will make his own displays on this. We also do some project work, and of course home schooling really supports this, so that this year we have already done some maths, written work and drawing on topic.
Here are some ideas which may be helpful for your guys.
At Key Stage 1, ages 4-8 approx
- drawing fireworks pictures on black card with coloured chalks or pastels
- making 3D pictures with pipecleaners, sweet wrappers, foil etc
- writing in the air with sparklers
- making a fireworks cake, like a marble cake with different colours in it, or using different colour icings and putting a cake sparkler on top. Popping candy is also excellent if you can find it.
- finding out about festivals/special occasions where fireworks are used around the world
At Key Stage 2 plus, ages 9-11 approx.
- find out how fireworks are made and the chemical reactions involved
- sew a collage on felt with different colour and thickness of threads
- how many nouns, verbs and adjectives can you use to describe a fantastic fireworks display?
- calculate the best value box of fireworks from a selection
- find out about the Gunpowder Plot. Write a story about this from the perspective of the King.
Finally, for those just not happy with fireworks, who shouldn’t have to miss out on a happy occasion how about celebrating your own festival of light,or Diwali? And there is nothing to stop you enjoying a bonfie and BBQ if the weather is kind, or enjoying hot chocolate with marshmallows inside if not.
Have a very Happy Bonfire Night.