fire blazing against black background

photo: Creative Commons (Wikimedia)

I have a question. When was a time when you learned something… when, maybe after lots of time trying, you suddenly just got it? Think of a time when you figured something out – you suddenly understood or could do something that you couldn’t do before. Could you share with us some of those times? [ Take responses from the children and repeat to congregation.]

Thank you. What great examples! To me, when we learn something like this… when we suddenly “get it,” it’s a lot like what happens when you start a fire. Suddenly, there is a little flame, like this. [Wiggle just one finger in front of you and have everyone join you.] Then, the fire begins to grow as you get it even more. [Wiggle more fingers, then wiggle the fingers of both hands together, like flames dancing.]¬† Then the fire catches, and it grows and strengthens… [Start moving your hands and arms too,so they can follow] … until [ Get wild and excited] you have an inferno! That’s what learning is like!

So today, I’d like your help to see what it takes to build a fire. We’re going to act out building and lighting a fire. First, what’s something we need for a fire? [Take responses in whatever order and ask for volunteers to be each of the things. You’re looking for a few main things: tinder or newspaper, kindling, logs, and a match or lighter.You’ll need a few of each of the main fuel items. In my experience, you’ll get things like coal, oxygen, air, a person, a fireplace…. Take any and all that could be part of the fire as long as you have the essentials and gather the actors in a visible spot.]

Now there’s one more thing we need and it’s kind-of a riddle. You can’t see it and you can’t feel it, but a fire will not burn without it. Does anyone want to guess what I have in mind? [You might get air and oxygen at this point, or heat (which is, indeed, needed). You can say that these are close.] What a fire needs, is space. Spaces between the tinder and the kindling and logs. So, friends, could you arrange yourselves in a way that will allow you to burn? Tinder/newspaper, where do you need to go? How about kindling? [Have them sit, kneel, or stand. Obviously, don’t have them try to lie on top of each other, or you’ll have a people-pile with no space!]. Wood? Okay, who’s the match? [To congregation and non-acting¬† children]: How does this look? Do we have enough space? [When ready, count 1, 2, 3.. to signal the match to strike and light the fire, and then coach and model for the the actors to spread the fire to one another, gradually, with first just one finger, then working up to an inferno as you did before.]

That’s how to build a fire, and that’s what learning is! Thanks, friends!

***

This reflection is inspired by the poem “Fire” by Judy Brown.

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