Providing opportunities for children to connect with nature isn’t just about exploring natural objects or climbing a tree. Have you considered how often your children experience the natural elements of earth, wind, fire and water? These experiences perhaps come with more challenge (and maybe mess!) but are so important for young children to experience in order for them to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world.
The seasonal event of Bonfire Night, presents a great opportunity for children to experience and learn about fire and fire safety. First hand experiences like this provide children with an engaging and exciting real life experience. A bonfire provides opportunities to learn through all of the senses; feeling the heat of the fire, watching the flames, smelling the smoke and tasting something that has been cooked on the fire. These type of experiences stay with children, embedded in their long term memory. Experiences like this also provide a great opportunity to develop young children’s language skills and provide rich conversations.
There is obviously risk and challenge with setting up a fire, and putting appropriate risk assessments in place is essential. However, there is lots of research to show the importance of engaging in risk and challenge in order to learn to be safe. Perhaps the thought of young children being near a fire, raises concerns about behaviour and whether they will be able to manage a situation such as this.
In our experience, children will rise to the challenge and with lots of adults around to support them and explain how to stay safe, being trusted to enjoy these type of events has a positive impact on their PSED. There is something quite relaxing and mesmerising about watching a fire, and often children become very calm and still.
Bonfires are certainly not just for Bonfire Night! They can be enjoyed all year round and also provide great opportunities for outdoor cooking. We’ve enjoyed popcorn, soup, hotdogs and vegetable kebabs to name a few. We recently delivered an outdoor course, and the practical part showed the participants how to light a fire. The feedback was really positive and the enthusiasm amongst the group was infectious. As an adult working in early years, it feels like such a privilege to be able to share such exciting experiences with the children. Even in adulthood, experiences like bonfires create awe and wonder, so how amazing to be able to provide that for our children!