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Bonfire Night dance activities

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By Marie Thompoet and writer

Encourage children to develop a fireworks-themed dance routine



  • Warm-up music and music to dance to – anything with a good beat
  • Tambourine

Warm up

Use any kind of warm-up activities that you would use before a gymnasticS lesson – make sure that the children’s muscles and limbs are warm and ready to dance.

The Activity sheet, ‘Crackle! Spit!’ includes a Bonfire Night-themed poem that will help children to visualise different types of fireworks.

Bonfire night poem - Crackle! Spit!

The dance session…

Introducing the activity

Ask the children to discuss what a bonfire is like – how does the fire move? It starts gently and grows, the flames start to reach out then sparks fly out.

Ask the children to close their eyes and imagine a fire on Bonfire Night. Think about the heat coming from it, the colours and the way the flames move. Play some suitable music, and, with their eyes closed, ask the children to imagine the fire starting small and growing larger. Can they see the flames getting bigger? Play the music again and ask them to show the fire through movement. Look out for a good example to demonstrate to the rest of the class.

Back to school

Creating a fire-themed dance

Now, encourage the children to work on the movements that will eventually come together to make a dance. This is a chance for them to explore the movement qualities of the theme of fire and fireworks.

Begin by asking the children to think about the qualities of fire – the flames can be big and small, they can swirl at great speed, sparks can fly out that crackle and spit. Ask them to make their hands into little flames, wriggling their fingers. Let the movement travel along their arms.

Now, ask them to crouch down on the floor and be very still. Shake the tambourine and their fingers can start to become the flames. Let the movement travel along the arms then slowly unfold the body keeping the movement going in the arms and fingers. Stand up, letting the movement spread through the whole body. Finish by bringing the arms above the head to make the pointed shape of a flame.

You now have lots of flames standing in the hall. Ask the children what will happen to the flames as they grow – encourage them to sway on the spot, stretching up high.

What if the flames start to spread? Ask the children to make a little run, of just a few steps, letting their arms now become individual flames moving around. A little run then stop and freeze into a flame shape. Shake the tambourine on the run and bang it on the freeze. Do this three times; first time freeze in a high shape, second time freeze in a middle shape and last time freeze in a low shape.

You’re now going to think about the sparks flying out of a fire. Ask the children to show you a spiky, spark shape and then freeze. Ask them to do a short movement as the fire, this time when you bang the tambourine they should leap up and land in their spark shape. Make sure that the children push up and down lifting and lowering their heels, and that they bend their knees when they land.

Now, put this altogether with the music:
  • Crouching down, let the fire start in the fingers and spread along the arms,
  • move to standing, keeping the movement going,
  • make the flame shape then sway and stretch,
  • let the flames spread through a short movement,
  • leap and land in a spark flame and then freeze.

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Firework dances

Explain to the children that they are going to think about fireworks, and how they move. Ask the children to name some fireworks – for example, rockets, Catherine wheels and Roman candles.

Start by thinking about rockets: crouching down on their feet, ask the children to make a rocket shape with their arms above their heads. Then, they should wiggle on the spot and come slowly up, then leap into the air. Next, they should land and do three short bounces to show the sparks flying out, shooting their arms out around them and making star shapes with their hands. Make sure that the children push up and down, lifting and lowering their heels, and that they bend their knees when they land.

Now, think about the Catherine wheels – children should stand tall with their arms by their sides like the piece of wood the firework is pinned to. As the Catherine wheel is lit, children should fling their arms out to the side and spin once one way and once the other way. Be firm about the number of revolutions otherwise they’ll get dizzy!

Next, think about Roman candles – start with the children kneeling with legs straight and arms by their sides. As the Roman candle is lit, they should wave their arms about, stand up and while they are still on the spot reach and stretch their arms all around their bodies – above, to the side and below. Then they should ‘die’ back down to the ground.

Now, put it altogether with the music:
  • Rocket – crouch down, wiggle, come up, leap and three bounces for the sparks.
  • Catherine wheels – stand still, fling arms out and two turns.
  • Roman candles – kneel up, wave arms, stand, reach and stretch then die down.

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Bringing the dances together

Now the movements the children have been working on can be brought together to make a dance. The whole class could do the fire movements together, then they could change into the firework movements, or you could split the class in two. One half could be the fire while the other half stays frozen ready. Once they’ve finished, the fire half could freeze, and the second half of the class could then do the firework movements. It actually looks very effective to have the two halves randomly mixed up. After the fire dance the fireworks pop up all over the hall mixed in with the frozen fire children.

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Cool down

Give the children time to calm down and cool down. Tell them to shake their bodies and stretch, or lie quietly on the floor for a few seconds and stretch.

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Some children may have had regular dance lessons and would be used to working in groups and putting choreography together. Instead of a whole-class dance, can these children in groups choreograph their own Bonfire Night dance? Can they put the fire and firework movements together to make a dance? There must be a clear starting and finishing position and everyone in the group must know what they are doing, and when. Will the whole group do the whole dance, or will they split the group and have one half being the fire and the other half being the fireworks? Ask the children to perform these dances for the rest of the class.

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Image © suzula/


  1. Pat
    on 7 November 2016

    Bonfire night

    Super ideas, but I could do with some examples of which music to use.

  2. Jen
    on 31 October 2011

    Bonfire Night

    Great ideas but what would be of real benefit would be examples of music to use.

  3. kaja
    on 23 November 2010

    bonfire night

    this is a very good poem!!