Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Campfire in the Learning Center ?!?

     How many of us love sitting around a campfire, gazing into the flames and listening to stories?  There’s a kind of peace that settles over all who sit within its ambiance.  For many it conjures up summer nights when bedtime is far away, crickets and katydids are playing their songs, the marshmallow bag is bottomless, and stars are glittering above.  Everyone becomes a skilled storyteller – there must be some kind of magic in its glow.

     But here in Vermont, in February, summer nights are only wispy pieces of dreams.  And winter is making us all a little cabin-crazy by now.  Our pitiful snowfall was just a tease this year.  So to brighten up our winter blues I had a week of “campfire in the library.”

  This is the third February I’ve held this event and it always generates a lot of amazement.  Children gather around the "fire.".  “Is it real?” some ask.  "How did I make it?" "Is that real wood?"  "Can we touch it?"  "Why am I doing this?"  Yes, the wood is real firewood, and that's the closest it gets to a true campfire.  I have used a string of lights with orange and red bulbs to simulate authentic color. Underneath the firewood pyramid sits a small fan that blows upwards on some strips of colored cellophane that are meant to mimic flickering flames.  I tell the children it's a real pretend campfire.  And with the lights off, it looks pretty close to real.  Real enough that the kids all hold out their hands as if to warm them.  And we have great fun pretending to roast marshmallows!  A great companion book is Kristine O'Connell George's Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems.

 I love to see the children enjoying the unexpected surprise of a campfire inside the school.  They’ve done their book shopping and have returned to the “fire” with their selections.  There they sit with their books and their peers in the warm glow of the fire.  This is what memories are made of; good feelings, happy times, and good friends.  Top it all off with a great book and a campfire!

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