Lots of Fireworks!
Bonfire Night is more fun when we remember to be safe
by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2005)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To celebrate Bonfire Night and remind us about the dangers of fireworks.
Preparation and materials
Have available your selection from the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- rocket fireworks, available at: http://tinyurl.com/zx3dmed
- a Catherine wheel, available at: http://tinyurl.com/hu3mtjr
- a sparkler, available at: http://tinyurl.com/oh3waxw
- fireworks displays, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jdf4q9t and http://tinyurl.com/jpkzmml
Optional: you may wish to play Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, in which case you will need the means to do this. It is is 8.29 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuG1t2smdCQ
For background information about Guy Fawkes, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/guy_fawkes
Ask the children the following questions.
- Who can explain what happens on 5 November?
- Why do we light bonfires and let off fireworks around this time?
Spend a little time discussing the story of Guy Fawkes.
Show the images of the fireworks.
Ask the children if anyone can name them. Ask them what their favourite fireworks are and how many of them have seen a huge fireworks display.
Explain that fireworks are used in countries all over the world and by many different religions at times of celebration. We associate fireworks with having fun, seeing a blaze of colour sparkling in the sky.
Many people enjoy fireworks, especially children, but there are those who dread Bonfire Night. Many animals and some people can get very frightened. Introduce this story about one such incident.
The story of Digby the dog
Digby was a cute little terrier puppy who was just eight months old. He lived with Mandy and her parents. He was a happy little dog whose tail was always wagging. He and Mandy were inseparable. Mandy was very excited because her birthday was on 5 November, and her parents had said that she could have a bonfire party and invite her friends.
At last, the day dawned. Lots of cards came through the letterbox. Digby had great fun playing with wrapping paper and envelopes. He wondered what on earth was going on! At 5:30, Mandy’s friends began to arrive, bringing more presents and fireworks to add to the collection that her parents had already bought.
Digby ran to greet them, but they didn’t make quite so much fuss of him as usual. Even Mandy seemed more interested in opening her presents and talking about the fireworks. Digby couldn’t understand it and felt left out. He began to sulk and lay down on the rug in the lounge. No one took any notice of him.
Digby sniffed. Something smelled good. Dad was preparing sausages, jacket potatoes and soup. If everyone was going into the garden, he would go, too! Just as he poked his head out of the back door, he could see the great, orange glow of the bonfire. As he moved nearer, he could feel the intense heat coming from it. It crackled and spat. Digby didn’t like it. No one noticed him. They were too busy looking up into the sky where a big rocket was screaming heavenwards. Suddenly, there was an enormous bang as the rocket exploded into sprays of red, blue and silver stars.
Digby was terrified! Where could he hide? He wanted to escape and get away from the noise. He panicked and shot through the garden gate, which someone had carelessly left open. Now he was out in the road. It seemed as if big monsters were roaring past with what seemed like enormous, bright eyes. Digby didn’t realize that they were only cars! He dived back into another garden. Oh no, another fire! The bangs kept happening and screaming fireworks soared above him. Digby cowered under a nearby hedge. He was panting, trembling and very frightened. Poor Digby: he didn’t understand what was happening. He had never had such an experience before. He dared not move.
All at once, he heard a gentle voice speaking to him. A hand came down to stroke his head and he felt himself being gently lifted from the ground. ‘You poor little fellow,’ said a kind voice. An elderly lady carried Digby into her warm house. She cuddled the trembling animal and tried to comfort him. ‘I know how you feel, little fellow,’ she said. ‘Some of us don’t enjoy Bonfire Night and all the noise. It’s a good job you’re wearing a collar so that I know where you live. I’ll take you home in the morning. I’m too afraid to go out again tonight.’
The last firework had exploded and all of Mandy’s friends had left. It was then that Mandy remembered Digby. She called to him, but he didn’t come. She looked everywhere for him. Where could he be? Everyone joined in the search, but it was in vain. Mandy was so upset. She was afraid that she would never see her little dog again. Her father rang the police. A tearful Mandy was made to go to bed, but she just could not sleep.
The next morning, Mandy was trying to eat some breakfast when the doorbell rang. Mandy rushed to the door. There stood the elderly lady with a nervous little dog cradled in her arms. ‘Oh, Digby!’ she cried. ‘What have I done? You poor little dog.’
Her parents invited the elderly lady in. They were all very grateful to her. Mandy felt so guilty. She would never be so thoughtless again.
The little dog never recovered from his fear of loud noises, but he had found a new friend in old Mrs Bennett. He and Mandy often went to see her. Mandy became a much more thoughtful and caring person. When Bonfire Night came round again, Mrs Bennett was invited to come round and sit with Digby. Both felt much safer in one another’s company and the fireworks continued for others to enjoy – outside.
End with some advice about firework safety. Fireworks should always be lit by a responsible adult. Large organized displays are often the best, and safest, option, with clear instructions about where to stand away from the fireworks.
Time for reflection
The story of Digby the dog shows just how frightened animals and some people can be at this time of year. What will you do to show consideration this Bonfire Night?
As fires blaze, we hear loud bangs and rockets streak up high.
Fireworks of every kind light up the sky.
Lord, keep us safe this Bonfire Night, help us enjoy the fun.
But remind us it’s alarming and frightening to some.
Help us to consider the things that we can do
to shelter others from their fears, so they enjoy it, too.
‘Flickering candles in the night’ (Come and Praise, 114)