With our most recent camping trip, it begs the question, “How to keep the kids occupied and happy?” We really didn’t go on many excursions outside of our campsite, but Aamina (3.5 yrs) had a great time and actually seemed more bored when we got home! Here are some super simple preschool camping activities to keep in mind for your next camping trip!
Aamina loved to help in any way she could, and since a campfire isn’t that safe, cooking was limited to s’mores for her. With a longer stick for her “marshpillow,” she could stay a safe distance and still feel like she was taking part. Add in chocolate and a shortbread cookie (surprisingly good substitute when I couldn’t find gluten free graham crackers!) and she was having a blast!
Too bad we forgot to bring Aamina’s Eye Spy cards she loves so much! We spent a lot of time slowing walking around the campground, finding bugs and animals we don’t normally see at home. She was entranced with a grasshopper and the fireflies.When sitting to eat or just relax, we listened for woodpeckers, owls, loons, and turkeys. Just these simple observation activities has really made Aamina more aware of what’s around her, and she notices small details we pass over.
We weren’t by a body of water, but if your campsite is, that’s a great place to find even more wildlife to observe and explore. Can you find frogs? What’s the difference between a frog and a toad? What lives in the seashells?
I would argue that nature study is the most important activity you should do with your preschooler while camping. It’s simple taking longer to walk from one place to another, sitting down at interesting spots, and watching the world around you while asking questions. You might not know the answer to all the questions, but make sure you take the time to observe what’s around you!
Build a fire
Obviously, this activity is only done before you start the fire! A preschooler can definitely help lift up small logs and try to place them in the shape for a good campfire. I believe that too often we shoo off our kids so we can do things faster, but how will they learn to help around the house if they never have to do anything? Plus, for those of us without a wood burning fireplace, this is a rare activity that seems very exciting for a preschooler!
Can you make a bunny with your hand? Can you point the flashlight onto something blue? What about something red? What happens when you all have your flashlights on and you are trying to view the stars at night? Why doesn’t a flashlight light things up during the day? Beyond exploring and learning, play some fun flashlight games that will keep everyone moving and having fun!
Printing, texture transfer, and other art
Just bring some paper, colored pencils, and one small thing of paint to make some fun and easy artwork. Place the piece of paper over a tree trunk and color on the paper to make texture transfer art. How does that compare to coloring over a tree trunk (if you can find one cut and available)? Compare impressions of different leaves and other pieces of nature, except animals of course! Ha! You can use your paint to paint a leaf and stamp it on to a piece of paper, too.
If your preschooler is willing, you can even ask them to make a drawing of their campsite. I know Aamina would have no interest in doing that, but many other preschoolers are ready and willing for such a task.
What are some other activities you’ve done with your preschooler on camping trips?
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