I grew up in a rather remote area of Tasmania. So did my husband. We could each make and maintain a pretty good fire by about the age that we could tie our laces. Living remotely meant that all our heating, hot water and cooking were reliant on a good fire – fires were simply a daily and essential part of life.
Respect for fire safety is not something that comes naturally to my own children. We live in a city, we don’t have a wood fire at home and we don’t light a campfire as often as we could… But this is going to change!
Learning about a fire (how it consumes, how to be safe around it, and how to enjoy it) is a vital part of growing up (in our opinion!) so we braved the winters school night to bring a little more fire pit action back into our lives!
We got out a pack of oversized marshmallows, found some sticks to poke into them and started roasting. We also made some damper to eat with bread and jam for dinner. Granted this was not the healthiest meal my children have ever had, but the excitement and joy in their eyes made up for it. They asked lots of questions, and observed lots of answers. The biggest question is that of matter – where does the wood go? From our previous experiments with ice, water and steam the 6yo drew her own conclusions (but I think we’ll leave the details of combustion for a later date!)
Anica (6yo) stoked the fire and discovered ‘fire fairies,’ Elka (4yo) held her marshmallow stick right at the tip of her fingers as the heat beat on her face. Both kids entirely forgot about the bitter winters night and thoroughly enjoyed watching the wood turn to flames and coal, and eventually ash.
I would not yet trust my kids near a fire alone just yet (they still don’t fully understand the real risk involved) but I’m glad that in a few years time they will be confident around an open fire and be able to take this skill with them into adulthood.
(Plus, the perk of doing this in winter is that it gets dark so early that the kids were still in bed on time, even for a school night!)