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Building fire is one of the most exciting parts of forest school. Children love when we have fires. The excitement of being close to a fire, smoke swirling around and the possibility of a toasted marshmallow are always well received.
We build steadily towards fire throughout our time at forest school. Building on the children’s knowledge and safety skills before getting close to any fire. Each session we learn to be safe around the fire circle even when a fire is not present. We delve into what fire needs to survive (fire triangle), why we need and use fire, and how we respect and manage fire.
Having chosen your site, the first step towards a successful fire is gathering the right fuel. This activity gives the young people an opportunity to move away from the group leaders and work independently choosing and sorting their sticks. The whole process of building and lighting a fire enables the young people in the group to practice their large and fine motor skills and provides them with instant gratification and a sense of achievement as the fire grows before them. Fire is also a potentially dangerous thing, so to entrust an individual with the responsibility for building and lighting a fire can be a huge boost to their self esteem. It is therefore important to ensure that all the elements are in place to maximize their chances of success.
Children will learn traditional fire lighting skills, using friction. We start with lighting small pieces of cotton wool and move on to small 5 minute fires. Using larger fires to cook and boil water. Putting out fire and leaving a safe area free from the traces of fire are also an important lesson to learn