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Firefly Jar: No Bugs Required for this Craft

Fireflies are the friendliest bugs of summer and we love them! We love watching them twinkle in the trees out back and we love to chase them through the yard.

We also love to see how many fireflies we can catch in a jar–but our part of suburbia seems to be short on lightening bugs these days.

That’s why we made this faux lightning bug jar!

Craft a firefly jar with paint and paper.
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This craft lets your kids make a jar of pretend fireflies they can keep all summer long! No worries about hurting the bugs or accidentally releasing lightning bugs in your kid’s room. 😉

Firefly Jars

To make this craft, Mitch and I ran through a few different ideas from paint to glow in the dark beads. The beads looked pretty cool, but they don’t really light up well.

firefly catcher craft

From left to right:

Glass pasta jar with fuzzy stick grass, glow in the dark pony beads.

Plastic peanut butter jar with finger painted fireflies (using normal and glow paint) and construction paper.

Plastic Parmesan cheese jar with finger painted fireflies on construction paper. Hole punched firefly butts and several battery operated tea lights inside.

Plastic peanut jar with fuzzy sticks and construction paper grass. Glow in the dark pony beads are on pipe cleaners AND on thread taped to inside of lid for movement.

But does it glow??

The best “glow” effect came from the jar using tea lights with holes punched into the paper. (That photo was taken in a dark room with no flash, just a long exposure.)

The pony beads are now on my growing list of glow in the dark toys that don’t work well. They need to be “charged” in sunlight then only glow for a little while. So unless you want to admire your fireflies in a dark bathroom, I’d skip these.

The glow in the dark paint was equally annoying. It works when globbed on very thick and needs sunlight to charge–then intense darkness to enjoy. Again, great if you have the patience to let your craft sit in the sun for 15 minutes, then rush it into a dark room.

How to Make a Painted Firefly Jar

The painted fireflies turned out the best, so that’s the craft we’ll focus on today!

Mitch has made the jars both ways, with finger paint fireflies, and more recently using a brush. It really doesn’t matter how you do it, so use the method you like best!

Little kids enjoy finger painting, but maybe yours likes to work with brushes.

Mitch didn’t want to finger paint this time, so he did a few practice bugs on scrap paper to see what brushes would work best and how big to make his strokes.

firefly catcher craft

He also added legs to a couple so they’d look like they were crawling on the jar.

firefly jar

Firefly Jar Craft

Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Keep (pretend) fireflies and lightning bugs in this cute jar all year long!


  • Construction Paper (blue and green)
  • Plastic Jar
  • Paint (white, yellow, brown & black)


  • Foam Paint Dabber
  • Paint Brush
  • Black Marker
  • Hole Punch
  • Battery Tea Light
  • Pencil


  1. Wrap your construction paper around the OUTSIDE of your jar. Mark the top of the jar and the width.
  2. Cut paper to fit inside the jar. It's ok if it overlaps a little.
  3. Remove paper from jar and paint.
  4. Our fireflies were made with a brown body, black head, white wings and yellow dot for the booty. Feel free to get creative and make your bugs however you like.
  5. Set aside to dry.
  6. Cut thin strips of green paper to make blades of grass.
  7. Once the painted lightning bugs are dry, punch a hole in the yellow dots.firefly catcher craft
  8. Roll the paper into a tube and place in the jar.
  9. Decorate with paper grass.
  10. Turn on the tea light and place in the jar.
  11. Screw the lid on and enjoy in a dark room!
firefly catcher craft
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