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21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Fire Thursday provides valuable learning

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year, where the leaves start to fall off the trees and more importantly the temperature starts to cool down to winter.  These are exciting times for us at kindergarten as we patiently wait for the weather to change and the temperature drop so we can start our open fire for cooking.  I was pretty excited when I realised that Christine and I would be the lucky teachers cooking on our first fire for winter 2018.

Our fire day helps to rekindle my own childhood memories of cooking on an open fire. There is certainly something special about sitting around the fire on a cool winter’s day, cooking delicious food.  That is exactly what we do at Mairtown kindergarten; during our cool winter months we hold our greatly anticipated ‘Fire Thursday’. 

This is our seventh year of holding weekly fires every Thursday morning during term two and three.  Now it is truly a well-loved tradition at kindergarten and our children fondly know Thursday as ‘Fire Thursday’. 

The creation of fire is an essential factor of a Nature programme.  It is one of the four elements and provides opportunities for children to experience success and self-accomplishment when starting a fire from scratch that will ultimately cook food.

I love how our fire day provides our children with so much valuable learning.  Well before the first fire is lit, we engage with our kindergarten community to discuss our plans to minimise risks associated with having fire.  During the build up to the first fire we engage with our children to share and discuss thoughts of how to keep safe around fire. It so lovely to see our children who have experienced ‘Fire Thursday’, take on the role of leadership in sharing the rules and reflecting about what they enjoy.

Whānau time provides an excellent opportunity to have discussions and share ideas about how to be safe around the fire.  We actually bring our fire (not lit) inside onto our mat, where we get our children to role model how to keep themselves safe around the fire. Keeping everyone safe is our key priority, one of the many measures we have in place is a safety bubble that is drawn around our fire. 

Important rules that our children shared; “No going in the safety bubble, only the teachers are allowed to go in there.” “Walking around the fire, cause if you run you might get burnt.”  “No scarfs or capes by the fire cause if it’s windy it might blow them in the fire.”  “If you be silly near the fire, the teachers will tell you to go away.”

I think it is brilliant how our children seem to have a sense of responsibility for their own well-being and that of others.  I know that our children are excellent at remembering the rules and are quick to point out if I am wearing a scarf on fire day.  Wisdom Commons describes responsibility as ownership and committing ourselves to lead, to create, to solve problems and then following through.  It involves taking risks and working hard.  Being responsible can be daunting but also rewarding.  (Wisdom Commons)

Our children are involved throughout the process of preparing the fire, and all have great expertise and knowledge of what is required to get the fire going.  There are always keen helpers to scrunch the newspaper, and lay the kindling ready for the teachers to light.  Of course there is the food to prepare too and our children can choose to be involved with measuring the ingredients, working the dough and picking the rosemary to cut it and add to the oil. 

Cooking is all about people.  Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together.  No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.  Guy Fieri

The key purpose of our fire is to cook kai; so far this season we have had a particular favourite of the homemade garlic and rosemary bread (including gluten-free).  Previously our menu has also included cheese toasties, pikelets and delicious little sausages.

Sometimes once the fire is lit it can take a little while for the fire to heat up enough to start cooking.  These times can provide the perfect opportunity for our children to practice their patient muscles while they wait for their turn to cook.  I believe it is a valuable lifelong skill to learn patience and know that they will eventually get to cook.  Childspace explains Patience is about waiting and having confidence in a positive outcome.  When we are patient we are able and willing to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.  We work with quiet, steady perseverance and diligence.

One thing I love about winter is having a fire and I know Fire Thursday is very much looked forward to by many.  It is wonderful to sit around the lovely warm fire on a cool winter’s day, to sit and chat or sing with each other and cook delicious kai, hopefully creating many new memories and skills for lifelong learning.

Everybody loves fire!  Fire is amazing, beautiful and warm.  It has historically brought people together.  It’s where you come to make food and sing and tell stories.  (Eric Westervelt, April 3, 2015)

Ngā mihi, Susie