We are here looking forward to July 4th! Parades, fireworks, barbecues, beach or pool tours, all wrapped up in a lovely long weekend. I fondly remember celebrating July 4th as a child—especially decorating my bike for local parades and watching fireworks on my streets. I’m so glad my daughters are looking forward to July 4th too.

I knew I wanted to do some red, white and blue crafts with the girls this year and had a vision for a handprint fireworks display. I love a good hand or footprint project. One of the most important parts of successful handprint and footprint art is planning ahead. Gather all your supplies, including cleaning materials, before involving your child. Are you ready to make handprint fireworks? Let’s get to work!


White cardstock

Red and blue cardstock

Acrylic paint in red and blue

Silver glitter glue

A container to hold the paint – I like to use recycled baby food containers for easy clean up!

Paint brushes – I used a small foam brush for the actual prints and a finer bristle brush to add the details

Cutting Board – I used a heavy weight plastic board

Masking tape or painters tape

Baby wipes and paper towel

Paper cutter or scissors

Glue stick

Black pen or fine tipped marker

Step One – Paper

Carefully tape a piece of white cardstock to your cutting board – this will give you a nice hard surface for your child to press their hand onto when making the prints.

Step Two – Planning

Think about how to best place the handprints on the page.  You will be cutting your handprints out later so spacing isn’t that important other than to get as many prints on a page as you can to save on cardstock.  I like to make multiple prints at a time (like 6-8) – this way I can pick the best ones once they dry or send the extras to friends and family as holiday greetings.

Step Three – Making the Prints

Make sure you have your supplies within arms reach before you start painting.  This includes extra paper, paint and your wipes and paper towel for clean up.  The key is work quickly and efficiently once you begin. I started with my youngest child who I contained in her highchair for the painting.  Using the foam brush I carefully painted one hand with red paint making sure it was thoroughly covered but not too thick. Be sure to get those little fingers good!  We made it fun – making sound effects and pretending to tickle her palm worked well.  Once the paint is applied, quickly and firmly place the hand onto the paper, pressing down gently on each finger to get good contact with the paper. Young babies have a tendency to curl their toes and fingers under.  In my infant massage training, I learned that by gently running a finger across the top of the toes, you can trigger a reflex that causes a baby to fan out their toes briefly. This also works to open clenched up little fingers. I reapply paint lightly between each print.  After the last print is done, I wipe off the hand with baby wipes and then follow up with a paper towel to remove the remainder of the paint.  I repeated the process with my preschooler by having her sit on a kitchen chair and press her hand down onto the paper on the hard surface of a table.

Using the same red and blue paint, I even out inconsistencies with the handprints to make them look more finished.  You can use your pinky finger or a cotton swab to round out finger prints that didn’t make full contact with the paper if necessary. Let the prints dry thoroughly before adding the final details.

Step Four – Adding the Detail

On a separate sheet of white card stock, I painted the fireworks.  I started by making an “X” in blue paint and then adding another “X” through that.  Next I switched to red paint adding another two “X”s to the firework.  I then add a few more “sparks” using both blue and red.  The final touch is to add some silver glitter glue to give some shimmery sparks coming out of all sides of the firework.  Glitter glue is pretty forgiving – in fact, I spilled a big glob of it on one of my handprint pictures when the squeeze tip popped off of the bottle accidentally.  I used a plastic spoon to pick up the glob and gently rubbed the rest off with paper towel.  Crisis averted!  Allow your firework to dry slightly.  Cut out your handprint fairly closely to the paint using a pair of scissors.  Stick it to the middle of the firework.  Use a glue stick to attach it if needed, but I found that the slightly wet paint and glitter glue held it on just fine.  I gently bent the fingers of the print up a bit so the looked like part of the firework as well.

Step Five – Framing

Using my paper cutter, I trimmed up my firework to my desired size and cut a square of coordinating red or blue paper just slightly bigger than the print to act as a frame.  I attached the print to the frame using just a few dabs of glue stick. Don’t forget to finish the project by adding your child’s name and their age or the year somewhere on the print.

As I have mentioned before, I just love hand and footprint art.  My girls have come home from daycare with some adorable projects.  I asked their teachers if they had any tricks for getting such great prints from even the littlest kids.  They told me they teach the toddlers to give them high fives and practice it regularly in the classroom.  Then when it comes to making a handprint they simply tell the child to give a “high five” and the child knows just what to do. How clever! My kids have gotten so used to doing these kinds of projects that they know just what to do without much fuss or mess.

I hope you enjoy making these handprint fireworks as much as we did. Wishing you and yours a safe and fun 4th of July!  Please take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to have our freedoms and to live in this great country. Cheers!

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