Teach your kids to build a fire??? I know what you’re thinking, kids and fire?! That’s dangerous! I will concede that kids playing with fire is dangerous. But learning to build a fire? That’s an important survival skill. Our only heat source is two wood stoves, so most of our kids have learned to start fires between the ages of 6-8.
Why Teach Your Kids to Build a Fire?
Kids love to learn real skills using real tools. Why do you think that play kitchens, toolsets, and doctor’s kits are so popular? Because, as Maria Montessori said, “play is the work of a child”. Kids want to know that they are valuable members of the family. They want to contribute to family life, not be shuffled off to play.
1. Knowing How to Build a Fire is a Valuable Like Skill
Let’s face it, schools don’t do a great job at teaching our kids life skills. How many times have you seen an article or meme talking about kids learning trigonometry but not how to pay their taxes or do a load of laundry?
Guess what, as the parent, it is your responsibility to teach your kids these life skills. Very few, if any, schools are going to teach your children to build a fire, yet this is an essential survival skill. Maybe your child will go their entire life never needing to build a fire…but what if they do need to someday? Fires offer warmth, protection from animals, and the ability to cook food. Don’t miss out on teaching your kids this important skill.
2. It’s the Perfect Opportunity to Teach Your Kids Fire Safety
Fire safety is important for everyone. What better time to teach fire safety to your kids than while showing them how to build a fire? Almost all children are fascinated by fire. Teaching them to build a fire gives them an opportunity to see it’s power in action (get too close and OUCH). <— A lesson in cause and effect too!
Years ago we had a problem with one of our children playing with matches. As you can imagine, this is a terrifying discovery. After Chuck and I talked it over and evaluated the situation, we came to see it was more about sheer curiosity than anything else.
Under supervision, we gave the child a box of matches and taught him how to light them. This was all done safely, with Chuck and me by his side. He would light a match and then toss it into the woodstove. After that experience, the child no longer felt the need to “play” with matches. His curiosity was satisfied and he knew if he wanted to strike matches or light a fire he could- with supervision.
3. It Relieves Anxiety About Fire
Giving your child a chance to be around fires and interact with fires can help relieve anxiety about it. Don’t get me wrong, we want children to understand the incredible power of fire, but for a child who is high anxiety and truly scared of fire, being around it in safe ways can help relieve that anxiety.
For a child with anxiety, let them watch you build a fire. Let them strike a match (if they are willing). Let them add kindling or a small log. If all of this is too much, bring out the real magic and let them roast marshmallows over the fire.
4. Learning to Build a Fire Gives Kids a Sense of Accomplishment
So many kids love books like Hatch, My Side of the Mountain, and the classic, Swiss Family Robinson. Who doesn’t love a good survival story of struggle and triumph? Why do you think shows like American Ninja Warrior and Ultimate Beastmaster are so popular? Kids need “battles” to fight and “enemies” to overcome.
Knowing how to build a fire safely gives kids a sense of accomplishment because they have accomplished something.
How to Teach Your Child to Build a Fire
Not sure how to safely teach your child to build a fire? I have created this all-inclusive curriculum just for you! How to Build a Fire is unit one in a Survival Skills for Kids curriculum I am working on. It is a 10-page printable guide on teaching kids how to start a fire, the science behind fire, and how to use a knife safely.
This unit includes:
Intro Page for Adult Guides, What Makes Fire Burn?, How Fires Start, Knife Safety, Fire Safety, How to Build a Fire, How to Build a Fire Photo Sequence, Reflections/Journaling, Build a Fire Sequencing Activity, Fire Safety Quiz
Not sure if you want to commit? Download the Knife Safety Page free.
Great Resources for Teaching Kids Survival Skills
Websites for Teaching Survival Skills
Books for Teaching Survival Skills
You can find more survival skills books here.
Inspiring Survival Stories Your Kids Will Love
Lost in the Barrens (ages 12&up)
My Side of the Mountain (ages 8-12)
Hatchet (ages 9-13)
Island of the Blue Dolphins (ages 8-12)
For more fun and hands-on-teaching ideas check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Little Earthling Explorations.