I don’t know if you could really say that Winter reached us in this corner of the world this year… None-the-less, we have taken advantage of the less intense sunshine lately to teach our Wildlings the safe lighting and handling of fire. Many of our children and families are already familiar with fires when they come to us, but it is unusual for them to be in control from start to finish from gathering materials, lighting, maintaining and extinguishing the flames. There is nothing more delightful than seeing the sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction on the faces of all our Wildlings. Our youngest members found this activity particularly alluring and we can honestly say that managing a handful of two-year-olds around a fire was a new experience for us but the results were nothing short of heart-warming (pun intended!).
So how did we achieve this safely with so many (very, very) eager kids? We used our Kelly Kettle! Supplied by Kelly Kettle Australia, this fire lighting and water boiling device allowed us to build and light and
extinguish a fire safely and boil 1.5 litres of water rapidly multiple times to allow our Wildlings all a chance to achieve the task.
Finding and piling up the right kindling was an activity in itself. Sticks ranging in length and diameter had to be considered. We needed to ensure that we had enough materials to light and maintain the fire without leaving it before we even considered lighting it. Conversation flowed about the difference between green and dead wood and the impact this would have on our fire. During our first session, Wildings were given the chance to trial different methods of creating sparks and flame. Depending on their ability, success was achieved from a click lighter through to creating sparks with a fire striker on cotton wool balls. This was by far the lighting tool of choice and provided MUCH satisfaction when patience and perseverance paid off in the form of a successful strike! The Kelly Kettle is a multi-purpose kettle/billy that has two main sections: the fire bowl and the kettle chimney. The chimney is made of double walled stainless steel where the water is housed, circulating around the internal flame rising up through the middle. With a bit of coaching our Wildlings were able to safely take turns layering the tinder and kindling, and then using their preferred method they lit the fire, and placed the kettle over the fire bowl.
After building and creating the spark, the children had to safely lift the kettle onto the bowl and feed the fire through the top of the chimney. Selecting the right kindling to keep the fire burning and then to reduce the flames was part of the process. The Kelly Kettle is a great fire tool for kids because it involves a small fire that needs to be actively fed to keep the fire going. Once we had lit the kettle one of the Wildlings exclaimed, “It’s like a volcano! Look the flames are coming out of the top!” Fire invokes so many of the senses, the colour and warmth of the flames, the smell of burning wood, the sound of the crackling kindling as it is reduced to ashes and the camp fire conversation itself is at times a hugely educational process for those that sit around it.
Children use so many different skills through the process: assessing risk, problem solving and decision making and making conclusions in response to observations. This is real science in action. And then there is the pure wonder and awe. There is something so relaxing about sharing warmth around the fire, isn’t there? So not only did we have the reward of learning the skill of creating fire, we also had boiling water to enjoy a nice cuppa tea and revel in our achievements! Win-win! A sense of real achievement and also a beautiful and cohesive way to share time and resources and bring the group together.
If you are thinking of including fire into your activities in your setting, why not consider the Kelly Kettle as your fire tool? The simple design and the ability to contain the fire are just some of the simple benefits, plus, it’s so much fun!