Back when I lived in California, my house in Mission Beach was ideally situated to see the nighttime fireworks displays Sea World would put on. From time to time, my roommates and I would get out the ladder and climb up the one story to watch the fireworks from the roof (obligatory disclaimer: Attempt at your own risk – as a general rule, I rarely endorse following my own behavior – ha).
In Chicago, I could watch fireworks out over the lake, and at my new home in Minnesota, I can walk out the door and catch not one, but TWO small neighborhood shows on the Fourth of July.
The more fireworks I see, the more entranced I am by what’s left behind AFTER the bangs and pops (I HATE the loud noises, so it makes sense I’d enjoy what follows). The blankets of moon-dust-looking clouds and dazzling light trails create the most mesmerizing effect against the night sky.
While experimenting with ideas for a fireworks art project for kids, I tried out dozens of techniques and wasn’t having much luck. If one looked good, it wasn’t a very fun process, or vice versa.
Remembering the satisfaction of spray paint (in process AND style!) I grabbed a small spray bottle and filled it with diluted paint, hoping to get a similar effect, and OOOO-LA-LA!!! As soon as I saw the marks it left, I knew that would be the way forward.
Watch the whole fireworks art process
Like the colorful fog and glittering trails REAL fireworks leave behind, this spray bottle process creates beautiful layers of brightly-colored explosions. More importantly, it’s INTENSELY fun!
We used some squares of paper as the backdrop for our fireworks paintings, but your kids might enjoy working on larger paper – you could even hang pieces of an old sheet or scrap fabric outside and go to town with bigger spray bottles. As a bonus activity, you can even recycle your art into spark-free paper sparkers!
As I’ve gotten older, fireworks have become more of a symbol of individuality than patriotism. They all come in the same packaging, but when they’re catapulted from their factory-made existence into the ether, they explode into a GORGEOUS one-of-a-kind display that can never ever be replicated.
Discover more fun painting processes with our paint potions DIY process art lab!
For your own spray bottle firework paintings, you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Construction paper or cardstock
- Tempera or acrylic paint (gold looks AMAZING!!)
- A small spray bottle like this or this kind with a trigger-style sprayer.
- Bottle caps, lids, popsicle sticks, or other cutout shapes
DIY STAMP SUPPLIES:
- A glue stick
- Stamps, stickers, a q-tip, or pencil eraser (to add dots and other shapes)
How to Make Fireworks Paintings With Kids – DIY Instructions:
Mix paint and water in a small spray bottle.
Bright or light-colored paints (and metallics absolutely POP off the page!) work best on darker backgrounds, so pick your color palette with that in mind.
Squeeze about a tablespoon of paint (acrylics and tempera work best) into the bottle, then pour tap water in, filling roughly a quarter to one-third of the bottle up. Screw the cap on, then give your paint bottle a good shake!
The key here is to not dilute the paint TOO much – you still want intense colors! If I had to guess on a ratio, I’d say 1 part paint to 2.5 parts water (depending on what kind of paint you’re using).
Pick out the background paper for your firework art.
We wanted these to look like a night sky, so we went with black and deep blue heavy construction paper.
We trimmed ours into squares, but you don’t need to!
Find objects you can use to create fireworks shapes.
This spray bottle technique offers a wonderful opportunity for kids to experiment with positive and negative space. Grab some items that will create “fireworks shapes” – circles, linear objects you can fan out, or pieces of paper you’ve cut into other specific shapes.
Experiment with spray painting.
Grab your first piece of background paper and start spraying. What happens if you hold the spray bottle close to the paper? How does the paint look different if you hold the spray far away?
Add shapes, then spray!
Now that you’ve done a bit of spraying as a first layer, experiment with adding shapes. Lay down some items and spray over top of them.
After you’ve sprayed, take the items off the paper. Do you see your shapes in the negative space?
Continue building up the layers of spray paint.
Continue to add layers of spray until you feel finished!
Add paint drips and firework details (optional).
To emulate those dazzling trails of stardust fireworks leave behind, we used a small piece of sponge dipped in watery paint to squeeze dripped blots over our piece.
After creating a series of blots, we pulled the paper up on its side, letting the paint roll down to the page to create drippy lines. You can experiment with turning the paper to make the drips go in different directions.
You can stop there, or keep the process art fun going by inviting kids to add more fireworks shapes in the form of stamps, stickers, arrangements of q-tips, etc.
As our final step, we created some positive-space abstract fireworks shapes by stacking simple scrap paper strips.
Once finished, a few of these hanging together look fantastic as a collection or as part of a gallery wall.
Fireworks Art Activity Variations for Toddlers and Preschoolers
1. Use a trigger-style spray bottle.
Younger kids may find the style of spray bottle that we used more difficult to work with. If you have little ones you’d like to introduce to this process, I’d recommend using trigger-style spray bottles instead (I’ve linked to a smaller version than typical household spray bottles up in the supply list). Instead of pushing down with one finger, they can pull the trigger with both hands – a much less frustrating experience for little digits.
2. Use marbles in a box to make firework paintings.
Swap out spray bottles for a cardboard box and marbles! Lay a piece of paper in the box, squeeze dime-sized amounts of paint in a few different colors on top, throw in some marbles, and let your kids shake the box or tip it from side to side. You can enjoy their finished firework art as is, or invite them to cut out large circles (or any shape) and glue them to a piece of construction paper that’s been prepped with a cutout of a simple skyline.
3. Make fizzy fireworks paintings
Instead of paint, fill your spray bottles with a mixture of white vinegar and food coloring. Lay out a tray filled with a piece of paper that’s been covered in baking soda “firework” lines and let your child spray the vinegar mixture onto it. Watch their eyes light up as the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, causing a fun fizzy ‘firework’ effect!
4. Try Forked Firework Art
This variation involves dipping the prongs of a fork into paint and stamping it onto black paper, dragging the ends outward to make it look like a firework. It’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers because it helps to improve fine motor skills, plus, it’s a blast to see a common utensil transform into a cool art tool.
5. Paper Circle Firework Starburts
Use a circle punch to make lots of little colored circles from craft paper. Let your tiny artist glue these in a burst pattern onto a dark sheet of paper to create a firework effect. It’s great for refining motor skills and teaching about shapes and colors.
6. Make Sponge-Printed Fireworks
Lay out pieces of black construction paper, colorful paints, and a rectangular dish sponge. Invite kids to dip the side of the sponge into the paint, then stamp onto the paper in starburst patterns (or whatever types of patterns they’d like to make!).
More Kids Summer Art and Craft Paper Projects
Discover more summer art and craft projects for kids with our our puffy paper bag ice cream cones, charming paper pool art, fun scrape paint surfboards, name-in-the-stars constellation art, or paper playground art invitation.
More 4th of July Crafts and Activities for Kids
Looking for more Fourth of July kids entertainment? Have kids try making this paper sparkler craft or colorful DIY noisemakers to take to fireworks displays and for festive neighborhood or backyard celebrations.
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