Every Fourth of July, since as a girl I read "The American Girls Handy Book" by the Beard sisters, I have been making these old-fashioned "fireworks." I have used some ideas from the Handy Book, and also some from other papercrafting sources, and made up a nice little bundle of pretty things for children to play with every year. With all the different modern papers and crafting materials available, they are even more exciting. The nice thing about them is that they are not dangerous, but still sparkly and exciting for little ones. These are Daytime fireworks, and can content the children's impatience for the big ones at night.
Note: these are for children who are old enough to know that they should not put things in their mouths.
First, I go to the Dollar store and buy metallic tissue paper from the gift bag section. Red, Silver and Blue are my favorite colors for the season. Sometimes you can find glittery metallic gift paper, but it must be mylar to work right, not wrapping paper. One year I found a nice mylar that had red on one side and silver on the other, and it made very nice fireworks. I also buy a package of drinking straws, making sure there are red, white and blue stripes or colors in the package.
Then you will need colored paper, such as the kind you would buy for your photocopier or printer, in red and white and blue. Cardstock, glitter and glue are handy too.
Some thread or string and some kind of harmless weight, such as some beans are also useful. I have had problems finding weights that would mimic a rock or pebble, but not hurt if they hit someone on the head!
First, we have the Sparklers. If you make nothing else, make these, the children really like them.
Take a straw, and the mettalic tissue.
Cut a rectangle of tissue, about 12-14" long and 8 or so inches wide.
On one end of the rectangle, start cutting a fringe, about 3/4 inches wide, cut about 8" deep into the rectangle.
Now twist the un-cut end real tight,
twist it right up towards the fringe, and stuff it into the straw. It should stay pretty well if no one tugs on it. If it is too loose, you might vary the width of your rectangle.
Several narrow widths of fringed paper can be gathered together to make a multi-colored sparkler.
This is what the finished product looks like:
Wave it around. It makes a nice "crackling" sound and catches the light like a real sparkler!
You can use this same method (minus the straw) to make Thunderbolts.
Use a longer rectangle (18-24") and fringe each side, leaving plenty of room in the middle. Place a weight, like 3 or 4 dried beans, in the center. The original pattern called for a pebbles, but I prefer something less harmful, and have used little bits of bark, small pasta shapes, etc. Now fold the fringed rectangle in half, twisting it around the weights, and tie with a string or use a twist tie.
Throw this one straight up in the air, and it will come sailing down with a hissing sound.
With the copy paper, trace and cut sillouhettes to make "winged fancies." This might even be better with a lighter weight of paper, such as writing paper or the thin typing paper.
You could do a bird, a dragonfly, a butterfly, etc. Shown is the bird shape. These have to remain somewhat lightweight, but the thinnest layer of glue and the lightest sprinkling of glitter won't hurt it. These can be of a medium or large size. After cutting, poke a broom straw ( cut or pulled from your broom, just sacrifice a few for the sake of the children) through 2 small holes in the shape, so it stays.
Let down from a height (such as above your head, or standing on the steps of the porch) these winged creatures flutter and float to the ground very nicely.
Everyone knows how to fold a paper airplane, but there are some extra things you can do that make the regular paper airplane festive for the 4th. After folding up some planes (use colored paper too!), use glue and glitter to decorate the wings. A glitter glue pen can be useful for writing words on the side (such as 'Liberty' and other patriotic terms), and that way each child can name their own plane. As a final embellishment, I glue a few strips of the mylar tissue to the back, so as the planes are flying, they sparkle even more.
Helicopters are fun and may be decorated in many places. For these you need cardstock and tape.
Make a rectangle, and make cuts at the places marked in red in the photo above.
Fold back each side of the "handle" and tape secure to the back.
Fold each helicopter "blade" opposite of each other. To fly, hold up in the air and give it a little twist as you let go. This one takes some practice, the helicopter should whirl to the ground in true helicopter fashion.
What fun to stand up on a porch or tree stump and let these firworks fly and flutter down!
The American Girls Handy Book is available at: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=9236663&netp_id=279648&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW