Incendio!

Want to make your fire pit extra, extra, EXTRA cool this summer? How about featuring flickering flames in hues of purple, green, and blue? I’m always on the lookout for igniting things in the name of Harry Potter (see giant green fireball here) so when I found packets of Big Fire at a local fireworks store for a mere $2, I had to try them out.

Big Fire purports to add color to flames on any wood fire (and “Fireside Romance,” to your next date, apparently). It’s about the same size as a Kool-Aid packet. You don’t open the packet. You just toss the whole thing right on the fire and let the cupric sulfate, cupric chloride, and the polyvinyl chloride take the lead!

We had a small to medium fire, but what the heck…I threw in 4 packets at once. Within minutes, we had incredible green and blue flames, with little hints of purple too:


Were there any weird chemical smells? Nope! But the packaging is quite clear – this product is for outdoor use only in a well ventilated area. Also, I was expecting just a quick flash of color flames, but I am happy to report that the flames burned different colors for well over 30 minutes. And the flames were wildly beautiful.

Big Fire color flame packets are an inexpensive science experiment with extremely cool results. Definitely recommend tossing these in your backpack for your next campfire, Halloween shindig, or Harry Potter party.

A very special thanks to Mr. Fran P. Chismar for the experimental use of his fire pit. You make Gryffindor proud, sir!

Flames of Desire

No, it’s not the name of my new romance novel. It’s this…Flying Wish Paper by Hux Creative! Write a wish on the special paper, ignite it, and watch your wish float away, granted. Does this kit actually work? Or will the fickle realities of wish-granting manifest themselves? Our brave yet tempestuous heroine, Katie, tempted cruel fate and tested the kit in her dining room. Take it away Katie!


I have to admit, I was skeptical. When I read the instructions for the Flying Wish Paper and it specifically says “best used as an indoor product,” I wasn’t sure how it was going to work and not burn my house down. Armed with my kitchen fire extinguisher, I pulled my son away from his homework to be the official tester, and we got started making wishes.

flying wish paper kit contentsThe kit contains 15 sheets of Flying Wish Paper, 5 paper platforms for your wishes, a special mini pencil, and a set of instructions. It retails for $12 at our local Paper Source. The first part of the kit is easy enough. You think of a special wish and write it on the Flying Wish Paper, which closely resembles tissue paper. If you choose, you can slide the Wish Platform (more on that shortly) under your Wish Paper to help you write more easily. Our Wish Platform had a gorgeous picture of blossoming cherry trees on it, but there are many other images in different kits to choose from.

writing the wishOnce you have written your wish, crumble the Wish Paper into a ball about the size of a marble. Next, carefully unwrap and smooth out the paper so it is flat, albeit crinkled from being smashed into a ball.

wish paper crumbleOnce the paper is flat, roll it into a tube using the darkened circle on the Wish Platform as a guide. The tube needs to be open enough to allow the Wish Paper to easily burn, just like a chimney. Stand your Wish Paper upright on the Wish Platform and you are ready to send it to the heavens!

wish paper chimneyThis is when I became a little nervous. I was going to light paper on fire inside of my home. Rather, I was going to let my son (who was thrilled to have full parental permission to strike a match indoors) LIGHT PAPER ON FIRE INSIDE OUR HOUSE! It took a few tries to stand the Wish Paper on the Wish Platform without it toppling over, which also made me nervous.

My son very carefully lit a match and touched it to the Wish Paper, which instantly started to burn. When it was nearly done burning, the Wish Paper suddenly lifted off the Wish Platform and flew up to the ceiling, still slightly smoldering. Just before it hit the ceiling, the flame extinguished and the ashy Wish Paper floated slowly down into my son’s waiting hands. It actually worked! Color me surprised!


But wish-granting has its ugly realities. One of the problems we instantly encountered was the charred remains of the Wish Paper, which caused quite a mess of black ash over our hands and dining room table. Our mess was easily cleaned up with some damp paper towels and by washing our hands, but if you aren’t careful, the ashes could get everywhere and leave a dirty black trail behind.

wish paper ashI was also fearful the burning Wish Paper would fall over, (or off!) the Wish Platform. Well, it did fall over during one of our tests. It left a small burn mark on the Wish Platform, but thankfully nothing else happened.

wish paper burnFlying Wish Paper is a fun activity that my son and I thoroughly enjoyed doing together. There are numerous fire concerns and it is definitely something parents can’t let their children do on their own, but I highly recommend it. It’s a whimsical and thoughtful activity for kids to really think about what their deepest wishes may be. It would be awesome for magic spells at a Harry Potter program too (and so would this)! Just keep paper towels handy to clean up the ash.

As far as my wish coming true, only time will tell. All I have to say is my Mega Millions ticket is purchased, and I’m ready for the next lottery drawing.

Test Your Mettle

test your mettleOne of our regulars called this her “most favorite project, ever.” It’s amazingly simple to do, yet has fantastically beautiful results. Best of all, if you use the right markers, your metallic marvel of a dragon will illuminate under a black light! Get ready to test your metal at To Be Continued, our reading program for 6-8 year-olds.

glowing dragonWe read Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby, written by Natalie Jane Prior, and illustrated by Janine Dawson (Puffin Books, 1999). The town of Ashby Water used to be peacefully ruled by a King and Queen. But then the Black Count invaded, usurped the throne, tore up the botanical gardens, and built a grommet factory. Now the town is filthy, the river is polluted, and the people are suffering. To make matters worse, a dragon has landed on the grommet factory, and doesn’t appear to be leaving. Captain Zouche and Miss Moldavia (the baddies in charge), demand that young Lily Quench (a dragon slayer only by inheritance), defeat the dragon. But rather than slaying the dragon, Lily befriends it. With the help of Queen Dragon, Lily learns that there just might be a chance to defeat the Black Count, find a lost Prince, and rescue Ashby Water from ruin.

In the book, Queen Dragon explains to Lily that dragons eat metal, not people. In fact, gold is like rich chocolate to a dragon (mmmmm, gold chocolate). I wanted something dragon, metallic, and fiery for the To Be Continued kids to try. This project totally fit the bill!

You’ll need:

  • 1 dragon image, printed on white card stock
  • A piece of tagboard or cardboard
  • Tin foil
  • Tape
  • Sharpie permanent markers in assorted colors
  • Hot glue

Begin by printing a dragon image on card stock (I found my image as a free download here). Use tape to attach the image to a matching piece of tagboard or cardboard. This step really is important! You want a nice firm base for your image, since you’re going to be pressing down on it quite a bit.

This project looks best with lots of different crevices to color, so we made a few extra on the original image. Below, for example, you can see that we drew spines along the tail. Those weren’t on the original image.

metal dragon step 1Next, outline the image with hot glue. The more outlines you make, the better the final drawing will look.

metal dragon step 2Once the hot glue is dry, cover the drawing with tin foil. Secure the tin foil to the back of drawing with tape – not hot glue! The hot glue will create unwanted ridges later. Below you can see exactly what we presented to the kids – a mysterious sheet of metal for them to explore with their fingers.

metal dragon step 3Use your fingertips to gently, but firmly, press down on the tin foil. As you press, the hot glue ridges will pop out, revealing a raised outline of the the image underneath!

metal dragon step 4Here’s another shot that shows the ridges a little better…

metal dragon step 4 closerSome kids liked the idea of the image revealing itself from a “blank slate,” but other kids liked having an image to guide them. So have a few copies of the original image on your work tables, just in case.

Next, use Sharpie permanent markers to color the drawing (alas, non-permanent markers smear on the tin foil). Try not to press too hard, or your tin foil will rip. If it does rip, you can always put a fresh layer of tin foil over the drawing and start again.

finished dragon 2I was excited to learn that certain packs of neon color Sharpies fluoresce under black light (you’ll know because it says so right on the package). Awesome! I totally wish I had used them when we made this dancing black light skeleton! The kids were already delighted to see their metal dragons taking shape, but the glowing highlights – just made it.

finished glowing dragonThe final step is optional. I punched a hole in the top of each project and looped a ribbon through it so kids could hang their metallic creations up at home.