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Bonfire Night

How will you remember the fifth of November?

by Hannah Taylor

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider the history of Bonfire Night and why we continue to celebrate it.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Bonfire Night) and the means to display them.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    When we think of Bonfire Night, most of us visualize spectacular fireworks that light up the sky, a guy burning on the bonfire and sparklers cutting through the dark. However, do we really know why we celebrate it every year?

  2. Show Slide 2.

    It all started with a man called Guy Fawkes.

    Ask the children, ‘Who can tell me what Guy Fawkes is famous for doing?’

    Recite the following rhyme to help the children with their answers.

    Remember, remember
    The fifth of November,
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I see no reason
    Why gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  3. Show Slide 3.

    Guy Fawkes is famous for his part in the Gunpowder Plot. Over 400 years ago, on 5 November 1605, a group of 13 men hid 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the House of Lords. Their plan was to blow up the king and Parliament. Then, they could replace the king with someone they had chosen, someone who would make big changes to England.

    However, a few days beforehand, an anonymous letter was sent to one of the lords, warning him to stay away from Parliament when it opened on 5 November. The lord passed on this information and a search of Parliament was ordered. On the evening before the planned attack, a huge pile of firewood and gunpowder was found in the cellars, which Guy Fawkes was guarding. He was swiftly arrested and taken to the Tower of London, the famous London prison. Along with some of the other plotters, he was later executed for his actions.

  4. So, why do we celebrate such a violent day in history?

    The foiling of the Gunpowder Plot quickly became part of England’s national history. People felt that because the Gunpowder Plot had been thwarted in 1605, the English had defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 and Queen Elizabeth I had had a long run of nearly 45 years on the throne until 1603, God had been kind to the English.

  5. Show Slide 4.

    In 1606, Parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act, making it compulsory for every church in England to hold a special service of thanksgiving on 5 November each year. Some time later, other types of celebration started, such as bonfires, bell-ringing, fireworks and official military salutes.

  6. Show Slide 5.

    On Bonfire Night, it is common for a guy, or model of a man, to be made out of old clothes that are stuffed with paper or straw. The guy is then thrown on the bonfire and set alight, to remind us of Guy Fawkes’ treachery. There are also fireworks to remind us of the gunpowder that Guy Fawkes was guarding in the cellars underneath the House of Lords.

    In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in the days leading up to Bonfire Night, children used to take their home-made guys out on the street and ask for ‘a penny for the guy’. The money that they raised would go towards buying fireworks for the local Bonfire Night.

    As well as burning the guy, the bonfire can also be used to cook jacket potatoes wrapped in foil, sausages and marshmallows, and to heat up soup for people who come to watch the fireworks.

  7. Show Slide 6.

    Ask the children the following questions.

    - What is your favourite part of Bonfire Night?
    - Do you like how the community comes together to celebrate?
    - Do you enjoy watching the fireworks and cooking food on the fire?
    - Do you like learning about the history behind Bonfire Night?

    However we celebrate, let’s remember to look after each other, and to keep ourselves and others around us safe.

Time for reflection

Let’s think about how celebrations can bring us together as friends, neighbours and communities.

Let’s consider how we can ensure the safety of others when celebrating Bonfire Night so that we can all enjoy the celebrations together.

Dear Lord,
Please keep us safe at this time of year.
Please guide us in protecting others and treating our neighbours with kindness, consideration and care.


‘Firework’ by Katy Perry, available at: (4.17 minutes long)

Publication date: November 2022   (Vol.24 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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