25 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While Waiting for Fireworks

Keep kids entertained while waiting for fireworks

We love Independence Day! The 4th of July is such a special event here and we so look forward to celebrating it with summer firework shows. It can be such a great opportunity for making sweet memories as a family. 

If you have young kids you know they add so much wonder and excitement to the holiday. But they can also add a lot more to plan and manage. The chaos of large groups and the long wait for fireworks can quickly turn the event into a stressful one. 

This year our kids are right around ages 5, 3 and 6 months so we had to get extra creative to keep the chaos and meltdowns to a minimum. These ideas worked like a charm for our first fireworks show so I thought I'd share. All you need are a few bags, maybe a trip to the dollar store and a little planning. You got this!

25 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While Waiting for Fireworks

1. Have them help set up - Our little ones each brought their own special blanket and loved finding the perfect spot to set up. They both were so careful about spreading them out with no wrinkles over and over throughout the night. 

2. Find a spot nearby they can run - Crowded events can get a little claustrophobic so we tried to find a spot on the fringe of the crowd where they'd be able to get up and run around without bothering everyone around us. Having some extra space to run with boundaries helped them get out some energy. 

3. Individual Fun Bags - We packed a couple light-weight drawstring bags for each of them with some of their favorite small toys to play with like monster trucks and my little ponies.

4. Travel games - These are great for playing on a blanket before a firework show because they're small and don't have a lot of loose pieces. We scored at the dollar store and our kids happily played a travel edition of Hungry Hungry Hippo for awhile. 

5. Keep a Rotation - Changing things up every 20 minutes or so can really help break up the night. If possible try to rotate high energy activities like freeze tag with low energy ones like coloring or word searches. 

6. Snack bags - Fill a few ziplock bags with finger foods. Our kids kept eyeing our neighbor's bag of chips so having some grapes, carrot sticks and pretzels on hand saved the day.

7. Glowsticks - These are really fun to play with as it gets dark. The dollar store is the perfect place to pick up some of these before a firework show. We found glow glasses, headbands, flags, necklaces and bracelets. 

8. Bubbles - Another cheap find that's great entertainment for kids or babies. We had our glow-gear on and noticed the bubbles reflected some of the neon light for a festive feel. 

9. Social games - I love games that don't take any set up or supplies. Ring-around-the-rosie, simon says, red rover, red-light/green-light or charades are all really fun for kids to pass the time if you've got a little bit of space.

10. Sports equipment - If you have a lot of space, you can bring your favorite outdoor equipment to play with like a soccer ball, football, frisbee, hula hoop, jump rope, etc.  

11. Take walks - This is really nice if you happen to have a stroller on hand. During a long night of sitting, it helps to get up every hour or so and explore with a little walk.

12. Sensory activities - Our little guy has autism so we gave him a few shoulder and arm massages to calm him and ease some of the sensory overload. Carrying a weighted backpack, doing a few jumping games or even just an occasional tickle session can help relax some of the built up tension. 

13. Hand claps - Little girls love handclaps:) If you need to brush up on your "Down Down Baby" or other claps like it, be sure to watch a few Youtube videos before you go. 

Keep Kids Busy Before Firework Shows Start

14. Legos - Fill a ziplock with Legos and come armed with challenges to give your little guys. See who can build the best robot, spaceship, pirate ship, US flag, etc.   

15. Magnets - The dollar store usually has some type of magnet game. We personally love the dolls with magnetic outfits or cars with magnetic parts to mix and match.  

16. No-mess crafts - Patriotic themed stickers and coloring pages are awesome for when everyone has used up all of their energy running around. For older kids, try creating red, white, and blue bracelets with a small bead kit. Glow-in-the-dark beads are even better:) 

17. I Spy - This game is especially fun in a crowd because there are so many things to find. Just say something like, "I spy with my little eye...something that is red." Then take turns guessing! 

18. Stretch out - If you've got a blanket, lay down and stretch out. Find some cloud shapes or count stars if it's starting to get dark. If baby is sick of being passed around, this a great activity to switch things up.

19. Chalk - If there's a sidewalk or slab of cement nearby, bring out some chalk. Write "Happy 4th of July!" or have a Draw-Your-Best-Firework contest. It's also fun to create one big scene that everyone can add to.  

20. Odd jobs - At some point you might be starting to get desperate for ways the kids can burn energy without disturbing everyone. Try giving them a few jobs to do like handing out flags, filling water bottles or picking up toys and trash. Set a timer and make it into a game if necessary.

21. Contests - See who can stand on one foot the longest. Who can jump the furthest? Who can go the longest without laughing or smiling? Try a thumb-wrestle or play "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Little contests like these can help kids wait for dark.  

22. Toss games - Have beanbags or a hacky-sack? Create a toss game with chalk and take turns trying to hit a target. You could also use your glow necklaces and a rock for a sort of ring-toss game.

23. Capture the flag - If you've got older kids or a few energetic adults, how about using the U.S. flag and playing a little friendly game of Capture the Flag? This one could get a little crazy so it helps to have a big open area.

24. Smoke Bomb Graffiti - Painting the sidewalk with brightly-colored smoke bombs is pretty fun! You'll want to make sure the owner of the property is okay with having graffiti around for a short while.

25. Take photos - Try a photo scavenger hunt and see how many patriotic things the kids can find or poses they can create. Pictures = proof. If all else fails, resort to the selfie and Photobooth app. These can take up hours of time haha.

Extra tips...

These items are super helpful to have on hand: A flashlight, wet wipes, headphones/earplugs, band-aids and a spare set of clothes in case of accidents.   

One last reminder: Enthusiasm and positivity are contagious.

So if you're sporting a great attitude with lots of patience, the kids will probably pick up on it and mirror the same. 

Have a Happy 4th of July!

xo, Laurie

25 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While Waiting For Fireworks

Did I miss anything? What are your secrets for keeping kids in good spirits? Share in the comments.