Camping Centers and Activities
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Everyone loves a camping theme. Learning about nature, forest animals, insects, the night sky, rivers, fishing, and smores will get your students interested and excited to come to school. Parents and teachers all know that when students are interested, they are more engaged, and they develop a love of learning.
In this post, I want to share some of my camping centers and activities I do in the classroom with my little learners.
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Camping Centers and Activities
I LOVE creating play dough trays for every theme. Why? Because it is something my students love to play with, and it is amazing fine motor work! My forest invitation to play tray has green play dough, blue play dough, bugs, snakes, frogs, blue gems, green gems and pebbles (all purchased from the Dollar Tree, even the tray). Students made forest, river, and pond habitats for the animals. Some students made patterns and designs in the play dough too!
How cute is this art? To make the logs, students cut brown paper strips and glued them to the paper. Then they painted the fire on top of the logs! It’s a fun way to practice cutting lines.
Camping paper (in a clear file incline sorter) and vocabulary cards are a must for a camping theme. I try to change up my writing center with each theme to keep students excited about drawing and writing! The paper and word cards are included in my Camping Math and Literacy Centers.
Build camping words using rock letter manipulatives. This was the perfect activity for my pre-k students to get students talking about camping and build their vocabulary.
Sorting letters in different ways helps students build knowledge about letters, the types of lines that make up each letter, and letter sounds. We sorted the letters a few different ways: uppercase/lowercase, in my name/not in my name, straight lines/curvy lines/both. These are included in my Camping Math and Literacy Centers.
Tracing basic lines helps students build strength in their hands, wrists, and fingers and develop motor memory. Students traced the lines with a dry-erase marker and erased them. These forest animal cards were a hit in my library center. They are included in my Camping Math and Literacy Centers.
I stock the library with camping books to support our camping theme! There are so many amazing books for this theme.
Have you tried making patterns using marshmallows? It is a lot of fun, plus students strengthen their pincer grasp when stamping the marshmallows. If your marshmallows are too squishy, leave them out over night to dry out. Students made AB, AABB, ABC, and ABB patterns.
Go fishing for numbers and quantities. Add a “fishing line” with clothespins for students to clip the fish on after they find a match. Put a blue plastic tablecloth under the fish to represent water. These fish are included in my Camping Math and Literacy Centers.
Smores number match is a yummy activity to practice counting and number recognition. These are included in my Camping Math and Literacy Centers.
Have smores for a snack! Each student could build their own smore with graham crackers, chocolate, and a spoonful of marshmallow cream.
Take the camping theme into your blocks center. Add forest animals, rocks, tree rings, and fake leaves for students to use in their block play. Check your state conservation department for free posters, brochures, and coloring books about the forest. The square posters are old wall calendars I laminated.
Don’t forget to add non-fiction books about various forest animals to support their block play. Students can use the books as a reference as they build.
Camping STEM challenges… absolutely! I added Camping STEM I Can Build challenge cards to my STEM drawers. This little learner made a tent using pattern blocks. I just love how he added the triangles on the top to make it pointy, just like a tent! The real photos make the challenges come to life!
Make your sensory table into a river or pond. Fill it with water, and add some pebbles, fish, snakes and frogs. Make a few lily pads using craft foam in different sizes. Students experimented with how many frogs each lily pad would hold.
Go on a nature walk outside! Collect items on tape bracelets or in a basket for your science center.
Investigate rocks in your science center. Add a sorting tray, scale, books about rocks, magnifying glasses, and writing tools for students to use in their investigations. Check out THIS science post for the Parts of a Scientist anchor chart freebie.
Turn your dramatic play center into a campsite! I promise your students will LOVE it. I wrote a post all about how I did it HERE and how I embedded a ton of math and literacy experiences into their play too!
You can find the Camping STEM challenges in this Summer STEM I Can Build pack, along with beach, summer, and America-themed STEM challenges.
Check out this video of the camping dramatic play area.
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I’m Jackie, your go-to girl for early childhood inspiration and research-based curriculum.