I think this is exactly what you're looking for soulpad.co.uk/products/brazier We have one and it is just perfect for kids to sit around for a campfire. It doesn't rust either, ours has been outside all year.
I really want one of these! I particularly like these because you can get ones which don't rust and you can buy a trivet to go on the fire, so you can cook on them. Am definitely getting one at some point.
If you can get the drum out of a dead washing machine, they make an ace fire holder - easy to light & burn, you can put mesh over the top for a kettle or whatever, & they don't seem to rust (and besides you can just get another & take it for scrap if it does!)
IME they tend to rust, especially the mesh guards, even if stored for the winter I found.
This year I got rid of both old BBQ and fire pit and bought some bucket style BBQ's from B&Q. £10 for first and £5 for one in the sale. We can have a BBQ on the table and then move the bucket on the ground and then add seasoned wood to the embers from the BBQ to keep a small fire going for the evening.
Back to fire pit: Just as easy to light as a traditional BBQ or open fire. You need kindling and seasoned wood, not huge logs though. Watch out for sparks, depending on the wood, hence the need for the spark guard top (which is flimsy by nature and hence prone to rusting and becoming useless).
Last summer we went camping in America and we all loved the fire pits at the campsites. Kids learned how to make smores and want to do it back home. We've used the barbecue, whcih works fine, but I'd really love to be able to sit round a fire in the garden and it isn't big enough to build a bonfire.
Would a fire pit/bowl such as can be bought in garden centres fit the bill? Are they easy to light (dh has made the bbq his domain and I want something more democratic)?