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Playing with Fire: What are Your Thoughts?
January 25, 2024
Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves.
-Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

When you think about “playing with fire,” what comes up for you? Dr. Carla Gull, Dr. Suzanne Levenson Goldstein, and Dr. Tricia Rosengarten want to know.

Gull writes, “My research colleagues and I are studying fire safety and fire as a loose part. We'd love for you to respond to [our] survey if you qualify, whether you use fire in your setting or not to help us understand this topic more fully. Thank you! Feel free to share!”

You are invited to complete the survey if you:

  • Work with children ages 2 to 8 years old
  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Live in the United States
  • Spend time outside in nature with the children in your care

The study is entitled “Early Childhood Educators’ Perspectives on Embracing Fire as a Loose Part,” and the researchers note, “The purpose of this study is to determine rules, restrictions, safety practices, and opportunities associated with embracing fire as a loose part and to examine the benefits and risks associated with fire play from early childhood educator perspectives.” You can complete the survey online in about 15-20 minutes. I look forward to sharing highlights of their results with all of you in the future.


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · January 25, 2024
Eugene, OR, United States

That's a wonderful story, Frances. I had a group of elementary students for a full 'no school day' outdoors and it was colder than expected. There was a great stone fireplace in the picnic shelter and one child suggested we light a fire, fully expecting us to say no. We talked safety with the kids coming up with what would help us be safe. For example, we decided it was okay to put long sticks in the fire to make charcoal 'pencils' and what to do if those small flames didn't go out. It was a real bonding experience, the way camp fires often are!

Francis Wardle · January 25, 2024
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

When I taught Kindergarten some years ago in SW Pennsylvania, we built a fire in the snow above the toboggan run. Every morning, we walked through the woods; this morning, we sledded for a while and then decided to light a fire. In Pennsylvania it snows a great deal, so my students were very comfortable (and appropriately dressed) for the snow. Lighting the fire required considerable problem solving, because the ground was covered in snow, and all the easy to find twigs were, of course, wet. The students figured out how to get dry wood, removed the snow from the ground, and then warmed themselves by the fire. When it was time to leave, we simply covered the fire with snow, thus putting out the fire (an important safety precaution).

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