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Candle with care

Decorate a tea light, then get hands on with matches and learn to light it safely.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Tea lights
  • Matches
  • Washi tape
  • Stickers
  • Matches
  • Electric candle lighter
  • Saucer
  • Sand

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers to help people light the candles.
  • Gather washi tape (decorative low tack tape) and small colourful stickers that will fit around the metal holder of the tea light.
  • Fill saucers with sand for the used matches.
  • It might be easiest to start with longer cook’s matches or a lighting taper before trying smaller matches – if you can, have a variety available.
  • Have an electric candle lighter (this isn’t the same as a cigarette lighter!) on hand, in case anyone struggles.

Stay safe around matches

  1. The person leading the activity should ask what everyone knows about staying safe around matches.
  2. The person leading the activity should make sure everyone knows that they should only light candles when there’s an adult there. Matches should be lit away from the body, and at least a metre away from other people. Matches should ideally be lit close to some water, just in case it’s needed.

Decorate tea lights

  1. The person leading the activity should give everyone a tea light.
  2. Everyone should use the washi tape and stickers to decorate the outside of the metal holder. No one should stick anything on the candle itself.
  3. Everyone should lift the wick on their candle so it stands straight up in the air, ready to light.

Time to light

  1. The person leading the activity should follow the steps below to show everyone how to safely light a candle using a match.
  2. Everyone should split into small groups with adults. Everyone should work together with their adults to follow the steps and light their own candle.
  3. People can blow out their candles and practise again until they feel confident.
  4. Once everyone’s lit their candle, they should take a moment to sit quietly and watch them flicker.

How to light a tea light

  1. Take one match from the drawer of the matchbox and close the matchbox.
  2. Show everyone where the match head is. Point out the striker on the match drawer.
  3. Check the area around you is clear.
  4. Strike the match away from you on the striker. Wait for it to flame so you (and other people) can see the flame.
  5. Hold the flame to the wick until the wick catches. 
  6. Blow out the match and place it head down in a saucer of sand. 


This activity gave everyone the chance to be independent as they safely lit a candle. When else could people use this skill (with adult supervision)? People may say that they could help an adult to light a campfire or a candle for a celebration. Can anyone remember the safety rules? The person leading the reflection should explain that with the new skill comes responsibility to others – a bit like being a superhero! People should never touch or use matches without an adult. Can anyone think of some words or phrases to describe what lighting the candle was like? Some people may have felt proud or excited, others frustrated or nervous. Learning a new skill can be all of those things at once. Well done to everyone who tried hard, didn’t give up, and was responsible with their new skill.



Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.