One of the best parts of summer is spending the majority of your time outdoors. The weather is warm, the trees and vegetation are plentiful, the days are long and the stars shine brightly. Summer makes most people feel amazing, especially after a long Canadian winter.
One of my personal favourite pastimes during the summer is camping. Camping connects you with nature and forces you to disconnect from our technology dependent world. It reduces you to a more simple time, allows you to relax without deadlines or obligations and forces you to just enjoy the beauty of family and nature around you.
This theme has always been one of my favourites to implement. It’s always a hit no matter the age group because not every child goes camping. Introducing them to new materials and ideas coaxes them to explore carefully placed provocations within their environment. They will ask questions, work hands on with the material and join together in dramatic play which helps expand their social, emotional and language skills.
For older preschool and school age children, challenging them with logical thinking and problem solving is important. Having the children discuss their thoughts about camping allows them to expand on their language and literacy.
Place blank paper out for them and encourage them to write or draw what they believe camping is like. They may draw conclusions from preconceived notions they’ve observed on television or books, or they may draw from their own experiences which gives them a chance to discuss what they know with their peers.
To add even more depth to their learning, consider adding a themed worksheet to their folders. Worksheets provide the tools needed to develop concrete problem solving skills and help build a foundation for following direction for academic success. This particular worksheet gives clues that the children use to solve a crossword. All the clues focus on an aspect of camping.
Art & Sensory Activities
Some of my favourite art activities involve using natural items like leaves, sand, pebbles, and twigs. Provide the children with some glue and a sheet of paper, and it makes for a free and creative art activity. They create their own nature collages that they can proudly display.
Create a camping “scene” by providing the children with cutouts of different items you would find on a campsite (tent, chairs, bonfire etc). Give them glue, coloring tools and scissors (if older) to arrange their scene on a fresh piece of paper.
Decorate a bonfire using brown construction paper for the logs and yellow, orange and red paint for the flames.
Forest Animal Coloring
Color cutouts of forest animals that you would find in the woods.
Putting tissue boxes, dirt, twigs and other vegetation into a bin with assorted forest animals. The children can use the tissue boxes to create tents and habitats for the forest animals in this fun sensory activity.
Infant – “Goodnight Campsite” by Adam Gamble
Toddler- “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen
Preschool – “The Berenstain Bears Ghost of the Forest” by Stan and Jan Betenstain
Any campfire songs will be hits! Sit around a pretend campfire created with a lantern and sing classics like “The Moose Song,” “The Ants Go Marching” and “I’m a Nut.”
Bring a flashlight to the circle and take turns creating different shadows using your hands. Have the children guess what you are creating. For even more of a challenge, create shadow puppets as a group by taking cardstock and popsicle sticks to create objects.
Have flashcards with different letters representing different camping terms. For example: T is for tent or M is for marshmallow.
Create a camping corner in a section of your space. Set up a tent, supply some blankets and pillows, flashlights and plush animals so they are able to set up their cozy space however they like.
Add some pots and pans, and create a mock fire by rolling up some towels on the floor with a light in the middle. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, create a mock fire by retrieving some smooth pieces of wood from the outdoors and attaching a paper flame.
Take the children on a scavenger hunt doubled as a hike. If you’re able, walk into a forested area and complete a scavenger hunt. Create a laminated piece of paper with a photo of each item along with the word written beside it (letter and word recognition for the older children) and search for the items together. If the child finds the item, place it in a sand pail to review later.
Bring dramatic play outdoors! Set up a mock campground with a tent and accessories. Let the children pretend they are going camping!
When you think camping, you think of simple easy to eat foods. Some staples from my childhood included s’mores, taco in a bag and cold plates.
My suggestions for special snacks would be deconstructed s’mores, nachos and salsa with cheese and fruit plates.
- Mini marshmallows (substitute puffs for infant age children)
- Graham crackers or teddy grahams
- Mini chocolate chips
Serve it trail mix style along with some fresh fruit to balance out the sweetness of the snack.
- Corn tortilla chips (naan bread for infants)
- Mild salsa or make your own.
- Shredded cheese of your choice
Serve the tortilla chips along with the salsa and cheese as a snack. Encourage the children to eat them all together by modeling. Heat the nachos up if you’re able to for an even tastier treat.
Camping is an exciting and special activity that children love to explore. It’s heavily focused nature aspect encourages outdoor exploration and promotes language, problem solving and physical play. These activities are sure to please!
Disclaimer: some of the activities were provided by Education.com. I am not sponsored by them, and all opinions are my own.