Campfire play set – make your own

December 3, 2019

Using loose parts to create a set up for campfire cooking, ideal for any mud kitchen or den area.

child next to homemade play campfire cooking tripod
Author: Muddy Faces

Age Range: all ages

Duration: 1-2 hours

Location: anywhere

Time Of Day: any time

Season: any

Tags: campfire, early years, loose parts, play, role play

Category: * what's new * outdoor play


A campfire playset is a perfect addition to any mud kitchen or outdoor play cooking area. By providing some basic resources children can create their own campfire cooking set and pretend campfire. There is no right or wrong way to do this activity and it will provide plenty of opportunities for problem solving and building up skills of resilience!*

How to introduce the idea? Provide the resources when children are wanting to explore cooking and see what happens. It may never look like the beautiful tripod that you intended but that is okay – the children are exploring their own lines of thought.

Or provide the campfire set ready-made as a provocation; ensure that you welcome and encourage, if the children wish to,  dismantling and manipulation of the loose parts.

* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning (see the intro to our Outdoor Play section for more on this). We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.

What you’ll need

  • 3 or 4 sticks/poles/tubes approx. 1 metre in length
  • lengths of chain/rope/string
  • a bowl/colander with handles
  • a pile of sticks and leaves to make the fire underneath

Environmental considerations

What is the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity? Can it be reduced? For this activity you could consider:

  • leave no trace

Health & safety considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures & carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments for this activity. Particular considerations could include:

  • using lengths of string/chain

Adult guidance: step-by-step instructions and top tips

Step 1

Set up your tripod/tetrapod (experiment with using 3 or 4 legs).

Fasten it at the top.

tripod made with 3 tubes and bungee

Top tips:

  • think about your choice of sticks/poles
  • consider providing poles with a hole through one or both ends to provide anchors for tying (see our drilling a pole activity or buy Muddy Faces construction poles)
  • if the ground is soft, stick the base of the poles in to help support the structure
  • we experimented with holding tubes together with a ball bungee
  • use resistant materials if you are setting up inside on a smooth surface
3 poles with string through

Step 2

Attach a length of string/chain to the top of the tripod – to hang down and attach a cooking pot at the other end.

Top tip: attach an ‘S’ hook or carabiner to the end of the string/chain, to make a simple and quick attachment point.

Step 3

Set up a selection of containers for the cooking pot (two handled colanders are easier to hang). A selection will allow children to choose which one they want to use and use their problem solving skills to work out how to hang it up.

You could also supply a selection of clips or mini carrabiners for easy attachment. Providing short lengths of string will allow for some knot tying practise and help with the challenge of hanging up a pot without handles!

Top tip: three points of attachment will help stabilise the pot.

stainless steel colander with two handles

Step 4 – time to cook

Now set up your play campfire and get cooking!

Be prepared for some marvellous treats to be cooked up for you!

4 year old boy next to homemade campfire tripod and cooking pot

If you want a ‘Here’s-One-I-Made-Earlier’ option you can buy a Muddy Faces campfire playset kit with instructions.

campfire playset