With Guy Fawkes night approaching there is much talk of fireworks and bonfires. Teachers and pre-school practitioners will naturally be talking about the risks of fire. This seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce fire play into your outdoor play space.
Children have traditionally been taught not to play with fire. For many practitioners mixing fire and play may sound risky. However, children already do this in their everyday lives. Things like blowing out candles on a birthday cake or having a family barbeque are essentially fire play activities.
Fire play can be done safely. At Playgarden although unnecessary risk is of course kept out of our playground designs, appropriate risk and challenge is designed in. Provide children with the knowledge they need to stay safe so they can identify risk and act upon it.
Good planning is crucial. You must know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, who will be involved and how far the children are to be involved. Children should always be involved in risk assessment. They will feel included and remember the points they made. Play should always be supported by adults but driven by children encouraging engagement, enthusiasm for learning and ownership. Often practical outdoor activities appeal especially to children whose behaviour may cause concern indoors.
What better way of engaging children with nature than through the element of fire? Remember your exhilaration at a bonfire as a child and let this inspire you this November. The inspirational process of creating a fire offers children the opportunity to achieve, and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment. Fire play teaches children to be aware of the risks involved so they learn to treat it with respect.
There are many ways to incorporate fire into your play garden. A firepit provides a focal point for the children and staff to come together in a very special space where they sit, watch and share stories. Building a bonfire can engage a whole class for hours; some children finding sticks and logs, others finding sand, water, dry grass, newspaper, everyone working together.
A simple barbeque offers children the opportunity to cook and to use nature’s elements to fulfil their basic need of food. Fire sculptures or art can be created and set alight by a supervisor for children to observe. These activities help children build up knowledge and understanding of the world and develop physically as well as socially and emotionally.
Fire pits and fire areas are becoming more popular and our landscape architects are increasingly including fire in our natural play garden designs. There are so many varied learning opportunities to seize from the challenge fire presents. Most importantly fire play can be great fun and no matter whether your outdoor space is big, small, natural or concrete fire play is doable in your playspace!
For more information on Playgarden’s natural play space design please visit our Playful Design page, or contact us directly on 0114 282 1285.