A Gift of Tinder

Our boys have a good friend named Max who is turning eleven this week.  We are looking forward to celebrating with his family this weekend.  But when it came to picking out a gift for him, we were a little bit stumped.  His current interest is in all things survival.  So Jonny emailed back and forth with his mom asking about different ideas.  Every family is different when it comes to what they’re comfortable giving their children.  We are pretty laid back when it comes to the outdoorsy survival stuff.  Jonny made a few suggestions:  a pocket knife, a multi-tool, or a flint and steel set, but each was met with either “He already has that,” or “He’s getting that for his birthday.”  Finally Max’s mom made a great suggestion, one totally up my boys’ alley:  a box of tinder, and maybe a magnifying glass.  Essentially, a fire themed birthday gift.  Seth has a collection of tinder that he keeps in little tins, and we thought that it would be fun to assemble something similar for Max.

The kids took a little “gathering” expedition and came home with river birch bark, cedar bark, pine shavings, and honeysuckle bark.  We still have a couple of days, so maybe they will add to the tinder collection.  Other options are different types of fungi including cramp balls and some sort of shelf fungi (the boys have experimented with which ones work and which ones don’t.)  I will visit the craft store for an attractive storage container to put it all in.

I also printed up the new Summer Science Special from Alphabet Glue this week, and was excited to see a campsite fire starter project included.  Keats decided to make a set of them for Max.  I think I’ll buy an extra copy of the Summer Science Special (It’s only $2.50!) print it up, and bind it in a folder for Max as well.  That way he will have the instructions if he wants to make more of the fire starters (not to mention several other great science projects and booklists as well!)

We think we’ve put together a pretty great, if not somewhat unusual, birthday gift (I bought the suggested magnifying glass as well-those are great for making fire) and hopefully Max will like it!  Maybe my kids will teach him how to eat roasted grasshoppers too, one of their latest “survival” activities.  Even Larkspur and Beatrix insist that grasshoppers are yummy.  You couldn’t pay me to eat one. 


  1. What a lovely gift! Totally pinning this to my kid gift ideas 🙂
    ANd the grasshopper?!?! Too funny…..

  2. What great photos! It all looks like so much fun! Do you know the flower name of the 9th photo from the top? I have that in my garden but have no idea what it’s called … or maybe someone told me and I forgot. 🙂

    Great blog.

  3. Samantha says:

    As always Ginny, I’m so into the things going on in your home…. sounds so interesting and fun!
    I’m not sure what kind of diet your family practices, but the below books are constantly referenced in my house (they make the kitchen one big, bubbling science experiment; which sounds right up your alley).

    Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig

    Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and Sally Fallon

    Check them out if you haven’t heard of them already. They add a whole new dimension of health and knowledge generally forgotten about these days.

  4. Gosh Ginny it’s beautiful where you are.
    I’m so inspired by your homeschooling. It has been my dream but not possible right now. We do what we can though!
    What an absolutely perfect gift for a young boy!

  5. jennifer says:

    If I missed this in the post I apologize but what is the liquid they are pouring ?

  6. p.s. Where do you get your round tin cases?

    • Those tins were a gift from my mom a couple of years back I believe, but they were bought at a JoAnn store. I am planning to look at Michael’s for something similar.

  7. Hi, Ginny! Speaking of birthday gifts … did the hovercraft set you gave to Gabriel work? Just curious … my son’s 10th birthday is coming up soon. Also, do you know what kind of glove you gave to Gabriel?

    I love the tinder idea and am trying to figure out how to give it to my son without collecting everything for him, I think he’d love to do that part himself.


  8. Gayle D. says:

    Oh the memories that loom potholder brought back!! I use to make them when I was a kid (I’m now a Nana) and always had so much fun doing it!!!

  9. I believe you do come up with the most creative thoughtful presents!

  10. Yay! So fun to see what you did with the fire starter project! And, of course, I am always so happy to see how much you and the kiddos enjoy doing the Alphabet Glue projects. Makes it all worthwhile 🙂

  11. This is such a great gift! I’m so jealous and impressed and I LOVE it!! Homemade thoughtful awesome gifts are the BEST. Max is going to love this! You guys are so so so so awesome!

  12. That’s a truly awesome gift. I think either of my older boys would be thrilled. 🙂

  13. This is exactly the kind of gift my kids love to give and receive 🙂

  14. Christine says:

    Thanks for the wonderful idea. I look forward to sharing this with my boys!

  15. that is an awesome gift! and a great idea for maybe my 11 year old’s 12th birthday in a couple months. 🙂
    the alphabet glue’s summer special issue is full of great stuff!

  16. Willemijn Maljaars says:

    This is so awesome! I want to come over and try a grasshopper!

  17. What a great and original idea! Really love this! But you lost me on the roasted grasshoppers. I just can’t go there! 😉

  18. Ginny, this is absolutely brilliant!!!!! Just today I did a post on the importance of handmade gift-giving, and this is now top of the list for ideas. My seven year old would love this, though of course, he will require supervision with it for awhile yet. Thanks for the ideas…
    xo Jules
    P.S. It’s pretty cool Jonny is all over calling and asking about what the birthday boy needs…what a good model for your boys.

  19. This is such a cool gift with a lot of time spent in it. Something about the age of 11-13, hard for gift giving to boys.

  20. Love this on many fronts. We are all things survival here lately as well and we love these types of gifts. My kiddos favorite to add is dryer lint.

  21. Not only is this a fantastic gift, but I love that your kids are learning about what makes thoughtful gift giving so magical. Imagine how wonderful it will be for them to watch him open his gift after you all have put so much care into assembling just the right thing!

  22. What a great gift! We like homemade gifts the best too. My (full grown) sons still much prefer to start fires with flint and steel. They make and use charcloth too – your guys might enjoy making some of that.

  23. You are the coolest mom ever!!!

  24. I wish more people would take the time to give, create, such thoughtful gifts. With the child in mind, instead of what’s popular.

  25. Thank is fantastic. We are going for a week long camping trip. I just might have to add this to our to-do-list while we are off in the woods.

  26. Dryer lint also works like a charm in those egg crate fire starter thingys, FYI. I love the feeling of a really successful gifting. I like it better than getting a really great gift. Its such a triumph!

  27. This is great! We have blobs of tinder everywhere too . Showing to my boys.

  28. Child led activities. A beautiful thing! Great gift idea.

I love to hear from you!