My first college Chemistry class lab was about learning to observe and take notes on what you see, feel, hear, smell, taste and experience.   What that looked like for us was 3 hours of staring at a lit Bunsen Burner. Exciting, eh? Seeing what happened at my kitchen table yesterday with Rhett(5) brought back a flood of memories of that VERY LONG lab. what is fire experimentRhett wanted to light a candle.   Since I was cooking and was going to be in the kitchen for awhile, I thought it was good timing for supervision of fire. He started asking a lot of questions about wax, fire, the wick, how long things took to burn and it turned into a Kindergarten science experiment…

What is fire?

What IS fire? We talked about what I knew about fire, but that was really hard to translate and so I did a bit of Googling and found this: “Fire is the rapid combination of oxygen with fuel in the presence of heat, typically characterized by flame, a body of incandescent gas that contains and sustains the reaction and emits light and heat.”The Straight Dope That might not mean a lot to a 5 year old, but it gave me some words to use in this conversation.   My theory is that if kids get exposed to big ideas and big vocabulary, it will slowly sink in…especially if the subject matter is in response to their curiosity. We also watched this video a few hundred times.
I learned more than Rhett, but he was really interested.

Learning about fire

Most of Rhett’s questions centered around how long it would take for our candle to burn and volcanoes. Since we didn’t have a volcano in my kitchen, we conducted a homemade science experiment about the candle.

Fire experiment for kids

I lit the candle. Rhett recorded the time and we talked about what the candle looked like. What the wax would feel like. What we smelled. fire experiment for kids We waited a few minutes and then repeated the conversation.   I let him lead how often we looked and what we talked about.   He was really excited about it and I have pictured just a few of the many post-it notes filled with time stamps that he created. Rhett is getting better at writing his numbers, but he had never written the time.   That brought up a lesson about how time is notated.     I loved how his handwriting reflects the digital clock he was referring to in our kitchen.   So cute. We let the candle burn into the evening.   Surprisingly, it was a very slow burning candle and only a small amount of wax disappeared over the entire scientific event. Something I have learned while homeschooling is that I appreciate knowledge so much more at 40+ {shhh} than when I was in school. If I had to go back to that lab, I could come up with a much longer list of observations! Want to make this into an outdoor experiment? I can totally see this being a great lesson to do with the kids during a camping trip. Come join the discussion about learning outdoors on the KOA Campfire Community. .

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  1. Have you seen this excellent short video/film about what a flame is? Came from
    Very cool!