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Muddy Faces

Published on 21.08.20 in Fire Focus

The Story of the Dragon Sneezes

This week we're telling you the story of how the Dragons Sneeze came about.

Actually, we have 4 different versions of the story - you decide which one is true!

And then give us your take, in our Dragons Sneeze Story competition! You could win some excellent fire starting kit.

To see videos of our Dragons Sneeze in action, and hear what Forest School practitioners think, visit our Reviews page.

Story 1 - The Grown Ups version

Told by Liz Edwards, founder & director of Muddy Faces.
You'll find a video of Liz telling this story below.

What prompted the design of the Dragons Sneeze?

a fire steel and striker, both with chunky wooden handles, attached by a neon green string

"I had been chatting to a lady with osteoporosis who had struggled to hold a standard fire flint, and this got me thinking. So I designed a system that created two chunky handles that were easy to hold. As Muddy Faces is based in Sheffield, it was ideal for sourcing a fantastic, quality hardened-steel blade for the striker. I sent her my prototype and she said she found it worked really well and was easy to use. I thought if it helped her, surely it would be useful for others. I certainly hadn’t expected how well received it would be.

How did you come up with the name?

graphic of dragon breathing fire, sitting on words 'Dragons Sneeze' all in brown text

"We ran a competition in 2017, asking our customers for suggestions to name our new, innovative designed fire steel and striker. Four people suggested the Dragons Sneeze. We thought the action of a sneeze as quick, powerful and sometimes surprising, was just like the spark created when you strike our steel, and we liked the name! So it was decided and we sent the competition winner a Dragons Sneeze plus some other bits to get their fire started.

Who is the Sneeze for?

"I think it’s really handy for all practitioners to have at least one Dragons Sneeze in their kit. It offers an alternative action to the traditional fire flints and it seems that most people can master it easily, allowing success for each individual in a group.

What exactly is a Dragons Sneeze?

dragons sneeze fire striker sitting on a rock with a fire blazing in semi focus in background

"The fire steels are made from a premium quality ferrous rod manufactured in Europe, and the fire striker has a hardened steel blade made in the UK. Both steel and striker have chunky ergonomic wooden handles making them easier to use, the handles are turned in the UK. They are attached by a brightly coloured lanyard to help locate the flint in a natural setting. The lanyard gives a greater range of movement than conventional fire steel systems."

Story 2 - The video version

Liz tells the Dragons Sneeze story in her own words in this short video. (2 mins 27)

Story 3 - The Kids version

During lockdown Liz's kids created this video - Campfire Stories - the Legend of the Dragons Sneeze.

The story is told in 7 chapters - so it can enjoyed in bite-sized chunks or one epic saga! Grab a hot chocolate, pull up a log, and enjoy!

(total playing time 12 mins)

plush toy dragon with yellow belly and pink skin, placed up high in a tree between two branches

Story 4 - The Forest School practitioner's version

We spotted this tweet from Claire Underwood back in May.

Delilah the dragon was upset after accidentally sneezing and setting fire to the fairy fluff and burning down the whole fairy village 🙈 which explained why our fire-lighter is called a ‘dragon sneeze’ @Muddyfaces

Of course we HAD to ask her more about it - this is what she told us...

"I have been running Forest School sessions for the children of key workers [during lockdown], from nursery to Year 6 in one group. Whatever their age they all loved finding fairies so I had got into the habit of placing little wooden fairies around the site each week.

The children had a go at fire lighting using the Dragon Sneeze and it turned out to be their favourite part of the sessions! They saw the name on the bag and were intrigued as to how it got its name.

I loved that they were also bringing cotton wool balls in from home, eager to have more turns with the dragon sneeze!

So for that week's session, instead of placing fairies around the site, I placed cotton wool balls around, and a dragon soft toy high in the tree.

After we had played our fire circle games I asked them to listen and said I thought I could hear something which sounded like a dragon crying. I then brought the dragon down from the tree and told them the following story..."

pile of cotton wool balls

Delilah the Dragon and the big sneeze!

You have probably seen this Fairy Fluff before, but Delilah the dragon hadn’t. She was gliding through the air when she spotted it, bright white in the sunshine.

She swooped down for a closer look. “Wow it looks so pretty, like a little fluff of cloud” she whispered.

She reached out a scaly talon to gently poke it “mmm soft”.

She tentatively licked it “bleeauuughhh that was not a good idea” and then she leaned her big nostrils close to smell it…when it tickled the end of her nose and “ah ah ah choo!”

Poof! The Fairy Fluff instantly caught on fire!

A spark fell down and "oh no" it landed on to the roof of the fairy houses down below.

The fire spread until all of the fairy village flickered and sparked. The roofs collapsed and the baby fairies wailed!

felt fairy in a white dress holding a snowdrop, which is almost as big as she is

“Oh no” thought Delilah “What have I done? It was only an accident! How shall I ever make it up to the fairies?”

That is why Delilah has come here today to ask for your help to rebuild the fairy homes.

The End.


Written by Claire Underwood
@clairewiththe on Twitter. @clairewiththeredhaireyfs on Instagram.
Credit to Helen Wilson @littlepuddlepeople for the inspiration for this story.


Tell us your Dragons Sneeze Story & win a fire starter kit!

We want to hear your version of the Dragons Sneeze origin story - it can be in any form - a poem, a video, a song, a photo story, cartoon or written narrative.

Ideally you'll support the children you work/play/live with to create and tell the story, and help them document it - or they'll do the whole thing on their own and you just send it in! (but we will accept stories from grown ups too.)

Creating your Dragons Sneeze story could be the starting point for a whole range of child-led play. It could also help children explore or rediscover their outdoor setting - we'd love to hear about that too.

We'll be creating a Dragons Sneeze page on our brand new website (coming soon) - all the stories will appear there.


Our favourite story will be highlighted on our new Dragons Sneeze page and the winner will receive this amazing Dragons Sneeze Fire Lighting Bundle, worth £145!

What you get:

5 Runners Up

5 runners up will each win our brand new Dragons Sneeze Fire Starter Set created especially for this competition, and now available on our website for £25.

  • our brand new & exclusive Muddy Faces log-shaped tin, to keep all your fire lighting kit dry, and inside it -
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Flamers natural firelighters
  • Large Dragons Sneeze


  • Send your Dragons Sneeze stories to
  • Closing date Monday 7 September 2020
  • Stories will appear on our website and may also be used on social media / in newsletters, so please ensure you have parental permission for any children who appear in any of the images/film you send
  • Due to shipping costs, this is a UK-only competition
  • For full competition terms & conditions click here.


Forest School case studies

a muddy leafy woodland floor with 4 children in waterproofs playing with sticks cut diagonally with mouse faces drawn on the ends

Do you know or are you involved with any settings that run Forest School in a really effective way? Is the Forest Schools approach embedded in the school curriculum across the age groups?

We would love to feature and showcase these schools on our Outdoor Hub Forest School page and in our new Outdoor Hub magazine* so we can provide models of good practice for other schools considering a Forest Schools approach.

Please email with your contact details and the names of the settings that you think could make good case studies. Thank you.

* coming soon - shh - don't tell anyone!!

Learning Through Landscapes: My School, My Planet

Learning Through Landscapes logo, a graphic of a green dandelion with connected dots

This £275k pilot project aims to support schools during the COVID-19 crisis by re-engaging pupils with their school environment, supporting their wellbeing and encouraging a greater connection to their natural heritage through the delivery of an outdoor education programme.

The project will initially focus on improving the outcomes of children and young people from disadvantaged ethnic groups and low socioeconomic backgrounds who have the least access to their natural environment.

If you are a teacher, head, or member of SLT who works in a primary or secondary school that celebrates its diversity and is passionate about improving the outcomes of disadvantaged pupils or marginalised communities and are interested in being involved in this ground-breaking project click here for more info.


Our one stop shop has a diverse selection of practical, educational and inspiring products for all your forest school, outdoor play and learning requirements.


See our full Covid-19 statement here.

Fire Safety Set - Group

£76.99 exVAT

Keep people safe and deal with emergencies when you're around an open fire. Includes 5l fire blanket, jerry can, Burncare kit, pair of fire gloves & a flexi tub.

Buy now

Dragons Sneeze

From: £17.59 exVAT

Fire steel and striker with chunky ergonomic wooden handles making them easier to use. The handles are turned in the UK and are attached together by a brightly coloured lanyard to help location in a natural setting.

Buy now


Our Outdoor Hub is free to everyone and packed full of literally hundreds of step-by-step, photo-illustrated activities. You don't have to be out in an amazing Forest School or woodland setting, most of the activities can be done at home, in a yard or garden, many of them can be adapted and done indoors.

We really do encourage you to get outside if you can - the benefits to your health and wellbeing are huge - you can read all about them on the Outdoor Hub here.

Click here to browse our Outdoor Hub activities

Our activities are organised in categories so you can find what you need, or use our keyword search (scroll down the left hand menu) to follow your children's interests.

The Outdoor Hub has a wealth of inspiring activities, events and information. Each section has been designed to encourage engagement in the outdoors, connection with nature and to help spark imaginative play and creativity.

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