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Shannon has a M.S. in Geology, is a teacher in a Waldorf School and has background as a children's yoga teacher.

She is passionate about connecting children to themselves and to the natural world.

About Backyard Mama

Backyard Mama's mission is for every child to spend time outside every day.

The intention of this blog is to offer inspiration to do that. Take this tips and tools and use them, or contact me and I can run a program at your center.

Our programs take many forms:
* classes in your school or childcare center
* classes for camps or nature centers
* professional development through conferences and workshops
* professional development designed for your staff
* community workshops at libraries and agencies

We're always excited to design something special just for you!

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Learning with Fire

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Fire has a lot of practical applications; it can be dangerous when out of control- but it’s useful to cook food, keep warm, or bring light into darkness. Yet, most kids are kept safely away from fire, flames, matches, lighters etc. This is in part just practical, but it’s really not serving children well all the time. Caution is a good tool and so is fire.

My son lights the dinner candles with some help, but this is one of his jobs and has been for a while; he knows to use matches cautiously and wisely.

He has been my assistant in attending to a burn pile. (See picture). He spent most of his day playing in the mud created by the running hose. But he did learn that keeping water near a fire is a good idea!

Roasting marshmallows over the open fire is now a favored past time. Through playing with the placement of the roasting stick he has learned how the flames become cooler further away and hotter closer to the source. He has learned the difference between the flame and the hot air around the flame.

In the winter, he regularly helped me stoke the fire with new logs. And he always reminds me to use the fire glove. So his experiences have subconsciously (and consciously) given him the awareness about the power and heat of a flame/ fire.

And he’s four. There are age appropriate times to allow children the freedom to take on these tasks and if adults give children the chance to practice under closely supervised situations, then when a child actually really needs to use fire as a tool with independence, he (or she- don’t rob our girls from this experience!) will be able to do so cautiously.

As we head into Fourth of July and a weekend of FIREWORKS, take note of your own attitude towards teaching children about fire… not just using scare tactics, but really educating them so when the time is right- use of fire can be done safely.

Good luck and make sure to check back here soon and please comment!

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4 Responses to “Learning with Fire”

  • Thank you Shannon, this is a great post. We’ve been having a candle at our dinner table for over a year now but we’ve never actually thought about empowering our 3 and 6 year old boys to light up the candle, though we recently started dripping the candle wax in cold water which the 6 year old loved…

  • EXACTLY. I know that kids can handle way more than most parents allow them to. While we don’t have very much occasion to work with fire in our household, the kids are definitely taught to use the gas stove, microwave, and how to take care of the bonfires we occasionally have in our fire pit.
    tracey – justanothermommy´s last [type] ..Looking for a cheap weekend?

  • laila says:

    A very unique post. A completely different aspect about safety from fire is to know how to use it correctly. Be safe.
    laila´s last [type] ..Physical Therapy Assistant

  • Mona says:

    Hello Shannon, just found your blog. I live on the other side of the world, in Denmark – but it seems we have a lot in common. I’m studying to be a waldorf teacher, and also has an outdoor, natural approach to waldorf teaching/living.
    I agree with you about fire (and the other elements), I also teach my children the ‘how to’s considering fire. We cook a lot on bon fires outside, and our house are partly warmed by wood stove. So they all know how to arrange, kindle and maintain a good fire. I think it can prevent accidents caused by ignorance.
    Mona´s last [type] ..Crafting the Colour Wheel – V

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