History of Fireworks Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Most of us love fireworks! Watching them light up the night sky is an experience like no other. In this lesson find out the history behind these brilliant displays of light and sound!

It Goes Boom in the Night

What is your favorite thing about the 4th of July? Is it a family picnic under the warm July sun? Is it the games you play with your family and friends? Maybe you are like most people and love Independence Day because of the dazzling fireworks that light up the night sky! However, did you know that these fireworks have a history that dates back more than 1,300 years? Let's take a closer look at how it all began.

It all Started In China

Somewhere around 600 A.D. early Chinese scientists started mixing different substances together just to see what they could create. Do you know what they accidentally created? Gunpowder, an explosive mixture of of charcoal and other substances like sulfur and saltpeter! Then, someone got the bright idea to fill bamboo shoots with gunpowder and throw them into the fire. Of course they exploded creating the first recorded firecracker! The Chinese went on to use paper tubes to create firecrackers that were used in celebrations or to ward off evil spirits. However, they soon realized that there was even greater power in this new invention.

Gunpowder (size compared with a quarter)
gun powder

Fiery Weapons

By about 900 A.D., the Chinese started to realize the potential the firecracker had in war. They began to make firecracker bombs and would even attach firecrackers to the end of arrows so they would explode on oncoming enemies. However, it was the 'Ground Rat' weapon that became one of their most fascinating inventions. With this weapon the Chinese would launch ground fireworks that would shoot in all directions, making such a ruckus of light and sound that would scare enemy soldiers and horses half to death. Can you imagine the scene?

As time went on, the Chinese continued to develop their fireworks. By about 1,100 A.D. the Chinese had created such fireworks as rockets, spinning wheels, and even colored smoke bombs. Again, they would use these in celebrations, such as weddings, military victories, or when the emperor would visit a town.

Early Chinese Rocket
Chinese Rocket

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