[Previously published for sfgate.com/moms]

I can think of one good reason. Fire isn't a game and I shouldn't be teaching Mikey that lighting matches and birthday candles over and over is fun. Nonetheless, this candle game happened organically this morning and Mikey loved it.

He found the box where I keep the leftover candles from birthday cakes (all two of them) and wanted to light one. Mikey wasn't able to blow out his second birthday cake's candle. He almost scorched his eyebrows trying. So I thought maybe he could use a little practice. A pear was handy, so I sliced the pear and stuck the candle in it. I sang, "Happy Birthday too you..." and he blew it out right on cue. His face glowed like he had won Wimbleton. Then he wanted to do the next candle and the next. Soon he didn't wait for me to finish singing and by the end I wasn't singing at all. He was blowing out the candle and the match with one big puff. He was done with the game when we had lit and blew out each candle in the box. I used this opportunity to review colors and numbers and other things listed below:

The Candle Game

1) Discuss the difference between smoke and steam.
2) Practice blowing which isn't an obvious skill.
3) Use fine motor skills by putting the candles in the pear hole.
4) Name each candle color.
5) Teach about matches and that he is not to play with them without me. Fire is dangerous.
6) Sing Happy Birthday which boosts self-esteem and makes a child feel special even on an ordinary day.
7) Count the candles and matches.

Candles can stand in anything. It doesn't have to be a cake or cupcake.