Suggest, no, tell, no, force your kids to learn where things come from.
Fire comes from the stove top, right?
Here was the test, “You have 5 matches and 5 minutes. Build a fire.”
We were near the woods at a 9-year old’s birthday party. 8 boys who are now only allowed to build fires, not even encouraged but expected to build fires? This was the birthday dreams are made of.
How many of the 5 successfully burned down the forest? Zero. How about got a roaring camp fire going? Yeah, none. Maybe a smoldering bunch of twigs? No one.
They went to the instructor, “Can we have some more matches?”
“Are you going to do something different than you did with the first 5 matches?”
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
― Richard Branson
“Uh, no. We just want to try more,” they answered way too honestly.
“Yeah, uh, no.”
She then explained about thinner wood and twigs and the teepee structure and the importance of air (or oxygen) and the direction of the flames. They then were giving a flint rock, a cotton ball with Vaseline on it (I didn’t realize it was flammable) and some paper thin wood. 1 boy got his fire started.
But all they needed was one story to let them know that it was possible. They tried harder. Slowly but surely, the flames started. The cheers around the area were as strong as if they, ahem, had invented fire. But now they knew how it worked and how hard it was to create and, hopefully, had some new found respect for things like lighters, stovetops and furnaces. In other words, tools that people invented that make seemingly simple things easy for us.
They didn’t quite understand that it took quite some time for water to boil over the fire or that marshmallows tasted better if you didn’t burn them quickly but let them roast inside, but patience was the (unwritten) word of the day and they learned a smidgen about it.
What a fantastic party. I’ve never heard of one like it.
It was part of an outdoor program with all kinds of activities. Good thing this was about fire because it was COLD outside!