Playing with Fire: Match Rockets

Yes, as Steve Hoefer says in this video below, this activity will literally have you playing with fire. But with the right group and good supervision this can be a fun and educational activity. Or not. An activity like this is best with a small group that has built some trust and accountability.

To make this activity into a game, have players compete for distance and accuracy.

Necessary disclaimer: this activity should be conducted with adequate adult supervision in an open area away from combustible materials with adequate eye protection. Never fire a rocket toward another person or animal. Discuss this activity with parents ahead of time.

Time: 20 to 45 minutes
Number of Players: one to five per adult supervisor


Follow the instructions above for making matchstick rockets. Have each contestant make his or her own matchstick rocket.

1. Play for distance. For a smaller group have players use the same “launchpad.” For a larger group have contestants line up about four feet apart along a marked line. Make it clear that contestants do not move past the firing line until you give the signal.

2. Play for accuracy. Put a metal can a reasonable distance, about ten to fifteen feet from the launchpad. Have players take aim and fire. Award prizes to the closest contestants. Make sure nobody goes past the firing line until you give the all-clear.

Set Up

An open outdoor area such as a grass field or parking lot with no combustible materials for about 40 feet in all directions from the launchpad.


  • Book matches
  • Straight pins
  • Large paperclips
  • Aluminum foil
  • Metal can
  • Safety glasses for all within 20 ft. of launchpad


Make this dangerous activity into a “teachable moment” by asking, is this activity safe or dangerous? Was it fun? Did you learn anything? What could have gone wrong? If you try this at home and set something on fire, who would be responsible? (the child would be, but also the child’s parents).

At this point you could transition to a quick study of Philemon. Philemon was a runaway slave who stole from his master and then appealed to Paul in Rome. Paul sent Philemon back to his master to ask for forgiveness. Any damages that Philemon caused where to be charged to Paul’s account. Here you can talk about how Jesus paid the penalty for our sins but we are still responsible for our actions.

Happy rocketeering!

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