What is “living book” or “living story format” in Campfire?

It’s a brilliant and immersive way to teach ALL ages (2 to 102).  Living Book is writing that draws the reader in; it is often in narrative style and written with much passion.  It is often referred to as “conversational” in tone. 

Living story, the term we are using to help distinguish, is one branch within “living book” format.  Living story contains a story component, utilizing characters to teach the lesson while often containing good literary quality OR other overlapping themes, etc.

Is it Just a Read-Aloud?

This is a BIG NO.  Many who suggest this have not used our units (we also find this comment by some who used the units when shared illegally).

On the contrary, we spend extra hours to incorporate engaging writing or a story line to ensure the student feels like they’re learning alongside an actual person  The entire lesson is not typically a story, but parts of can be, for a fully immersive approach.  Imagine in the days of old when men and women would sit around a campfire and a child would learn from someone older—from a professional or tradesman, or even just a wise, older adult or instructor.  In this way, it comes to life.  It takes so much more effort to write it this way, but we feel it is so worth it!

Many curricula out there take the information and spit it back out at you, like a Wikipedia or dry textbook.  Let’s show you how easy (and forgetful for your student) that is:

Compare the following:


*Example from a “normal” and unoriginal curriculum (spoiler alert: this is super easy for a company to write, and it would make our job 100x easier if we did it this way)*

A volcano represents a remarkable geologic formation characterized by an opening, or rupture, within the Earth’s crust. This breach in the crust serves as a conduit for magma, molten rock stored beneath the Earth’s surface, to escape into the atmosphere. The phenomenon of magma rising and eventually erupting as lava is a complex interplay of temperature, pressure, and the chemical composition of the Earth’s mantle and crust, like a recipe all coming together at once. The Earth’s mantle, a thick layer of rock located beneath the crust and above the core, is the primary source of magma. When there is a decrease in the surrounding pressure, the melting point of the rocks is lowered. The reduced pressure allows the rocks to melt, generating magma. This magma rises through the crust until it finds an outlet at the surface, such as a volcano.Volcanoes are not randomly distributed across the Earth’s surface but are instead primarily located along certain regions. The most significant and active volcanic region is known as the “Ring of Fire.” This encircles the Pacific Ocean and is home to the largest and most active fault lines in the world. The Ring of Fire is distinguished not only by its size and level of activity but also by the concentration of volcanoes within this region. It is estimated that approximately 75% of the world’s volcanoes are located within the Ring of Fire. Understanding the mechanics of volcanic activity and the conditions that lead to the formation of magma and its subsequent eruption as lava provides crucial insights into the dynamic processes that shape our planet.


*Example from Campfire [this version covers the same educational content, is better retained by the student, but is much harder to accomplish by the curriculum]*

Looking down from the helicopter, Chris could see lava violently erupting, cascading over the earth’s crust below.  He wasn’t sure if the warmth against his cheeks was his imagination or if the scorching earth was wafting upwards and literally singing his nostrils. Moments before, that lava was only something called magma—melting rocks deep beneath the surface. A seemingly innocent mountain, he thought to himself… a facade harboring the dangerous rocks of fire lying under it all this time. The opening in the mountain top and the cracks in the earth allowed the magma to escape— revealing the “volcano” they were now witnessing. A short time ago, the pressure of the earth started to decrease, and those rocks started to melt…

Chris looked down at the great Pacific Ocean under his dangling feet and saw the lava flowing into the water. He wondered to himself where the lava went, or how far down it sank. Now he understood why they called this area “The Ring of Fire.” He thought he could almost see it from this view up high: what looked like a circle, or a ring, of volcanoes around the edge of the ocean. The one spewing lava this day was one of them. He’d heard it said that 75% of all volcanoes were here in this ring, and he wondered what it would look like if they all erupted at once. Suddenly, the helicopter jolted, bringing him back to the moment. Something caught in the blades and the pilot lost…..”

Students, pause for a deeper look:

The creation of magma is quite a story. It begins deep within the Earth, where rocks sit under such intense pressure they stay solid, even in spite of their fiery temperatures. But, when this pressure drops—perhaps because of the movement of tectonic plates—these same rocks suddenly find themselves able to melt, turning into the molten magma that begins pushing its way up to give you a spectacular (though somewhat terrifying) show.

Volcanoes aren’t just random features. They’re most often found along the planet’s tectonic plate boundaries. These plates are giant slabs of the Earth’s crust that float on the semi-fluid layer underneath. When these plates move, they can either pull apart, crash together, or grind past each other.  You should know that any of these actions can create the perfect conditions for volcanoes to form.

Oh, and that Ring of Fire that was mentioned?  It’s an arc that encircles the Pacific Ocean. It’s not just a circus act; it’s the place to be for volcanic and earthquake zones. Imagine a giant horseshoe made up of about 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes, and you’ll have the Ring of Fire.  It’s where the Pacific Plate meets many surrounding tectonic plates, creating a continuous dance of geological drama.

That’s it!

And there you have it!  Campfire goes above and beyond in bringing you rigorous, quality education… and with a twist of passion, fun, and ways to help with memory retention and career connection.  In our units, you feel like you are learning alongside the professional, or from a fun instructor at college.  Now, go on and imagine you are sitting around a Campfire, listening to the story told by Chris—the volcanologist himself—about his first encounter with a volcanic eruption ~20 years ago.


How do you transition from worksheet-based education?

In case you want to know how to transition, for state record keeping, etc., then go HERE!

In case you want the podcast on using this with your high school student headed for college, go HERE!




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