Back in “the old days” (that is, when I was a kid), kids led lives of danger and excitement. We rode bikes with no protective gear. We stayed out roaming the streets after dark without adult supervision. We had toy guns that looked like real ones. Dentists gave us mercury to play with. We also blew things up and did other dangerous science experiments.
If you want a taste of what that was like, you might enjoy The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments. The book, first published in 1960, offers to show you how to set up a home laboratory and provides 200 experiments. The colorfully illustrated book shows you how to do some basic lab work as well as offering some science history and terminology.
Want to make oxygen? There’s several methods on page 27. Page 28 covers making hydrogen. To test the hydrogen for purity, the suggest you collect a test tube full, invert it, and stick a match up to the tube. If the hydrogen is pure it will burn with a pop noise. If air is mixed it, it will explode. Yeah, that sound safe to us.
At least they do warn you not to use sulphuric and nitric acid, although why that’s more dangerous than lighting up some hydrogen, we aren’t quite sure. Besides, after saying you shouldn’t use it, several experiments do call for it, including making rayon by blowing ammonia and cupric hydroxide into hydrochloric acid. You can only hope the kids realized to take their mouth off the blow tube before inhaling. Then again, they were probably going to get brain injuries if they went out bike riding, so it is probably a wash.