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In the United States (and many other countries around the world), it is common to see fireworks during times of great celebration. 4th of July and New Year’s Eve are two major celebrations commonly associated with fireworks.
No one quite knows who invented fireworks, and many people believe they were invented in China. Others think they may have originated in India or Arabia.
But no matter their origin, it’s clear that fireworks have been around for a long time. And they are well known to produce a lot of light and noise. For many children — and a lot of animals, too! — fireworks can be very scary.
So if you’d like to enjoy some “fireworks” without the sensory overload that can be so frightening, making fireworks in a jar is a wonderful alternative.
Note: For more 4th of July activities and printables, see my 4th of July activities page.
I gathered the following supplies:
- cooking oil (I used Canola oil, but I imagine just about any oil would work)
- a bowl
- a tall, empty glass jar (if you don’t have a jar, a vase would work well too)
- a fork
- food coloring
To make fireworks in a jar, start by measuring 1 TBS of oil into the bowl.
Then add several drops of food coloring.
Use the fork to whisk the food coloring and oil together. You will need to whisk quite briskly to get them to mix, because food coloring and oil naturally tend to separate.
In fact, it is their tendency to separate that makes this activity possible. (You can read more about the science behind this activity at the end of the post.)
Once your food coloring and oil are mixed, pour the mixture into your jar that you have filled almost to the top with water.
Then watch the fireworks ensue!
We then repeated the activity, but using our Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paints instead of our food coloring. (I also added a white backdrop to get better pictures :-).) The results were even better this time!
The fireworks started off slow.
But they just kept getting better.
What a beautiful sight!
The science behind the activity
So how and why does this work?
It has to do with the fact that oil and water do not mix, but food coloring (or liquid watercolors) and water do.
Whisking the colors into the oil temporarily causes them to stick to the oil.
When you pour the mix into the jar, the oil keeps the mix floating at the top. But as the colors begin to separate from the oil, they fall down into the water in droplets that begin to break apart and dissolve, making them look like a tiny fireworks explosion.
I wish we had tried mixing a bunch of colors together to see what it would look like. 🙂 If you try this with your kids, let me know how it goes for you!
More 4th of July resources
More 4th of July posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Books about the American flag
- 4th of July Montessori activities
- 4th of July sensory bin
- Sticky paper American flag craft
- 4th of July Printables Pack
- 4th of July do-a-dot printables
- 4th of July Bingo
- 4th of July Sudoku
- American flag printables
For more 4th of July activities, see me 4th of July Activities page and my 4th of July Pinterest board.
I have been looking for some new ideas, think we will be trying this, Thanks, found you on family fun Friday
It’s so easy to do! Hope you enjoy!
I just saw this today and thank you SO much for this idea!!!
this sounds great and I am going to use it with some gals coming over to do “art” stuff. I think they’ll have fun with it also… I did your coffee filter, paints and water thingy… LOVED it and I am also going to do the marble painting with these same gals… they are a little nervous of art stuff so this is a great way to get them going… am also going to introduce them to gelli plate!!! Thanks for your simple fun ideas to bring color and curiosity into our lives…
Thanks so much for your comment! It’s so nice to know how my readers have used and benefited from my blog. 🙂 I just looked up what a gelli plate is. . . looks like fun!
Looks like a fun and colorful afternoon.
fun science for summer! Since our firework shows don’t start until 10 PM on 7/4, this will be a great alternative.
I know the frustration – fireworks don’t start around here until long after the kids are in bed. Hope you enjoy making your own instead!
Tara from The Magnolia Barn
Love this! We will be trying this soon!
Enjoy! It’s so simple to do but so cool to see at the same time!
Very cool! We did it in a bottle and called it a home made lava lamp but I’m going to do it again in a jar and call it fireworks (any excuse!) 🙂 Lucinda
Love it! What a great way to re-package an old activity so the kids think it’s totally new again!
This is so cool! We will totally be doing this. I like doing sort of science-y stuff with my kiddo and he loves it! Thanks for the idea!
Enjoy! I agree that science-y activities are so much fun!
Love this Ideal! I will have to remember this for my daughter when she gets a little older
This is awesome! I’m stopping over from the Preschool Powol Packets Linky.
Thanks so much for linking up to the After School Linky Party! I’ll be featuring this tomorrow. Stop by to check it out and share more of your great kids activities!
Very cool pinning for the 4th!
This is awesome–and I love how safe it is too!! My kids love all kinds of science experiments–I think we will be doing this one even before the 4th! I’m going to feature it on my PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page today–thanks so much for sharing it at Teach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packets!!
LOVE this!! Thanks so much for linking up to Tot School Tuesday! Cant wait to try this with my daughter. I featured you on my Facebook page this evening 🙂
Thanks so much Kara! I hope your daughter enjoys!
This is awesome!!! Definitely a great Summer time activity! We will be trying this today, thank you for sharing the idea!
Enjoy! They are so easy to make you can do them over and over!
What a playful, fun activity! I bet my toddler would love it!
I featured this at TGIF this week.
Have a GREAT weekend,
How neat!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!
Rebecca from Here Come the Girls
Oh it looks so beautiful!
Thanks for linking to The Sunday Showcase. I’ve featured it this week.
So glad you were able to stop by and check out the feature at Kindergarten Lesson Plans! We loved your take on this fun experiment and thought it would make a nice fit for Independence Day 🙂
Thanks so much for allowing us to share your creativity!
I have done this at preschool several times. It works really well. I used two colors and it was beautiful. The kids wanted to do it over and over again!
I loved this idea! I had to try it with a devotional on Faith. The kids loved it!