Today we were chefs

What a typical breezy fall day here at forest school! There was a little bit of everything: rain, clouds, sunshine, wind … and some fresh fall temperatures! We were well prepared for an other Wednesday in Heathcote with our warm sweaters and rain jackets. And to help keep us warm we wanted to start our day with a fire.  We have been practicing our fire making, fire keeping and fire safety a lot lately. And today was the big test: could the children make their fire on their own and earn their fire bead?! (spoiler alert: YES!) But before we began, we brainstormed all our previous experiences and known rules regarding a fire. We came up with 5 solid rules and designed small mini-posters to help us remember. Our rules:

  1. Always have a bucket of water with you around a fire.
  2. Don’t play with fire.
  3. What is in the fire, stays in the fire.
  4. Be careful around the fire:
    1. Watch out for the smoke
    2. Make your fire far away from any trees, building etc.
    3. While blowing into the fire pit to provide the flame with oxygen, make sure to not blow onto someone sitting on the other side
  5. Don’t get too close to the flames

The children then had 5 min to discuss what they needed to not only start their fire, but also maintain it long enough to be able to cook a meal. Lots of thoughts and ideas were shared and once the time was up, everyone was so ambitious to start a fire! Everyone grabbed as many dry small sticks as could be found (which wasn’t easy on this wet fall day) for the kindling, birch bark was used as tinder, and dry, larger sticks were also collected to make sure the flame had enough to feed on after the tinder had burnt out (fuel). I was very pleased to see that the children had payed close attention to our last fire making sessions: first they used the smaller sticks to create a little grid which will provide the flame with oxygen from below and then serve as kindling. After this the tinder was placed on top of this grid. Around the grid and tinder the children used the larger sticks to create a square log cabin around the kindling and tinder. This is the perfect setup for a fire. The tinder was set on fire and the flames grew quickly. Within 5 min we already had a good fire going! Now to make sure the fire lasted long enough for our planned meal, we all grabbed larger logs from the wood cabin and started laying the large logs on top of the flame. It was time to have a seat and simply enjoy the natural warmth of a fire. The Snowy Owl then asked if they had now earned their fire-bead. Before handing them their bead there was one last test: the rules! Every child repeated the 5 rules we came up with on their own – successfully! And with that they really earned their bead!

After some quick passing showers and a snack, we began to prepare our meal: tomato-vegetable soup! For this the children would also earn a bead, the cooking bead! We gathered all our vegetables: carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, green onions, beans and garlic and began to chop everything up. I was amazed by the children’s enthusiasm and teamwork! Right off the bat Ryder asked if we could repeat a cooking session like this and I’m very sure that on an upcoming cold fall or winter morning … this will be a great idea! All the vegetables were dumped into a large pot and 3 big spoons of dehydrated tomato soup were added. We poured several cups of water into the pot and began stirring to dissolve the larger clumps of powder. Already we smelt the yummy taste of the tomato soup and everyone gave a “mmmmmmmhhhhhhh!” from themselves 🙂 We put the pot onto our fire and it started boiling quickly. Now to kill some time … with hide-and-go-seek-tag! Not only did time fly, but the running also kept us very warm. And as soon as we knew it, it was already lunch time! We all tried our home-made soup and was it ever D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!!!

After lunch everyone helped out cleaning the dishes. The kids were very proud of their success and were very happy to help out. Participating and understanding the importance of not only their own role, but recognizing that every single person is of importance in this group project is what really stuck with the kids. Everyone was really up-beat and cleaning up was done in to time!

The afternoon was spent in the Heathcote park playing endless rounds of camouflage. A lot of “meteorites” and “lava-rocks” were also found, apparently they are worth millions of dollars!!! Our new (old) dog-friend Sadie joined us to the park as well.

The day went by so quickly! Before it was pick-up time we did our debrief of the day and a bead ceremony – there were so many to be handed out 🙂

What a wonderful day once again here at the Heathcote Forest School!!

Next week: nature photography (& Halloween celebration! Come in a costume if you like 🙂 )

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