Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Make Your Own Fireworks: A "Handy Tip" for the Fourth of July

Love fireworks? Whether you're being serenaded by the Boston Pops or are curled up in a lawn chair with family and friends anywhere across the nation, one thing is certain: the Fourth of July would not be complete without a little fireworks display (maybe a few, if your neighbors are so inclined!) The American Girls Handybook offers readers (and their kids) a fun and easy way to prepare their own homemade "firecrackers" - without the fear of burns or injury.

Today's "Handy Tip" is brought to you from The American Girls Handybook: Chapter IX
The authors note first that these are meant to be daylight fireworks, which can be launched from a porch, balcony or other high place around your home. Given suitable wind conditions, they should go off without a hitch. There are several designs offered but for today, we'll be describing just two: the Parachute and the Whirl.

The Parachute

1. Cut out a five inch square of tissue paper. You'll want to twist and then tie the four corners with a slip of thread. It's recommended that you make each thread about eight inches long, to ensure the twists hold.
2. Next, you'll need to have a small pebble on hand, to serve as the weight for the parachute. Wrap the pebble in a piece of paper, take each of the four threads and tether them to your pebble in the center, as seen in the picture.
3. After completing your first parachute, you can then make several more, using varying colors and designs, to create your own army of parachutes, ready to be released from windows, porches, etc.!

The Whirl

1.  You can use either wrapping paper or writing paper, depending on what materials you have readily at hand. You'll want to cut your paper into circular spiral forms, as demonstrated in the picture.
2. At the center of your paper, glue down either a small piece of wood, or a weighted equivalent, to hold the center down in place.
3. Once released into the air, the spirals will open up as they take flight, rising and swirling as they go. Again, feel free to use as many colors and patterns as you'd like - they're your fireworks!

The American Girls Handy Book, first published in 1887, was written by two of the founders of the Girl Scouts of America. It's a beloved, vintage Americana guide book, filled with activities that transport readers back to a time before TV and are guaranteed to keep kids busy and entertained. You can purchase it on the Godine website.

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