Building Fires with a Purpose.

Building Fires with a Purpose.

The discussion about building fires in child care programs is growing as ECE’s are trying to spend more time outside as a way of dealing with Covid. The general idea is that a fire will give kids and adults a chance to warm up while being outside for long periods of time in the cold weather. I think we need to go further with this idea. I learned about fires in a child care program, not as a way to warm up, but as a skill and knowledge to expose kids to; how to build a fire, what the purpose of fire is, and how to respect and be safe around fire. I was first introduced to the concept through Gill Robertson who was a family child care provider at the time. She then connected me with Niki Buchan who shared the concept of lab fires. These are not large bonfires for the sake of having a fire. They are small fires build in a small metal bowl/caldron and used to teach children about fire. This was the first time I had ever used a fire steel. My own skills were growing. I had such a sense of accomplishment when I finally got my little fire going! As most of you already know I operate a family child care program for infants to school age as well as a forest and nature school program. I offer fire building opportunities in both these programs. If I want children to respect and understand the power of fire, I need to offer these opportunities. We don’t just ‘have’ a fire, we have conversations about fire; fire being a tool that we use for heat, cooking, light, safety. I know some people are thinking,  “There is no way I would ever be comfortable with a fire around the children I care for!” We have very strict rules and procedures around this whole process. We go over and review the rules each time; how we behave around the fire, how we move around the fire area and where we sit to be safe. There is always an adult at the fire pit when starting a fire and while the fire is burning. We start at the very beginning and explore how to start a fire. We talk about what we need and why; cotton balls, petroleum jelly, small kindling, and the flint and steel. I demonstrate how it works and then anyone who wants a chance to try, is able to. The kids can tell me the rules and what we need after their first time being exposed to these tools. The absolute joy on the kids faces when they are able to create...

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The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree!

The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree!

I love December and all the traditions we have created in my child care program over the years. We all talk about how busy it is this time of year, but for me it is a busy I enjoy. I find myself making the ornaments the kids can paint, getting the Graham Cracker ‘gingerbread’ houses ready for decorating and  gathering the supplies for the Reindeer Munchies.  These are just a few of the activities that bring me joy. Some of the kids remembered what we have done in previous years and wanted to make some paper chains. One of the children asked if we were going to make treats again for the garbage collectors. It touched my heart that he remembered this tradition of sharing with others in our community. We do this throughout the year but make it extra festive at this time of year. With Covid and being in code red at the moment I explained I needed to look into the rules about this and what we could do. Another of our traditions in putting up the tree. It is a little tree that comes in two parts. It slides together and is done. Together we add the lights which are very durable and then the kids are in charge of the rest of the decorations. They have garlands and they can make ornaments; add and rearrange as much as they want. We are a multi-age program and so we have children one year old to five years old. They all can look at and touch the tree. Yes, it has gotten knocked over several times already. We just stand it back up and carry on. The little ones love to look at the lights and gently touch them. Almost daily the older kids love to rearrange the garland and decorations. Last year one of the kindergarten kids stated our tree needed a star. He promptly headed off to the construction paper and cut out a star from a yellow piece of paper, added a pipe cleaner and hung it on the tree. That star never left the top of the tree all last December.   Is it the grandest tree you ever saw? It just might be because it is theirs. Theirs to decorate and redecorate how they like. They are in control of how it looks and how it is cared for. It is part of their world that they can be in charge of. In all these uncertain days, this is one little piece of their world that they know is theirs....

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