Little kids love the idea of sleeping outside.

Camping Themes for Preschoolers

by Shara JJ Cooper

If your child has been camping before, she'll probably be jumping with joy at the idea of doing camping projects. If she hasn't had this experience, you can teach her about camping by using camping themed days to show what it's all about. You don't have to pick just one theme, you can spend a whole day focusing on camping by having a camping themed lunch, camping crafts and setting up the tent for storytime.

1. Cooking

Food is such a big part of camping. After all, you can just walk over to the fridge and make a snack. You have to plan ahead and bring food that is easy to make and keeps well. Teach your child about camping food by creating a camping themed meal or snack. The project can be as simple as throwing together trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and a few candy-coated chocolate or as elaborate as making bannock (a traditional flatbread) and baked beans. If you aren't afraid of a sugar rush, put together some s'mores with graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. A little hint, you probably won't have a campfire for cooking, but you can melt s'mores on a barbecue or even over the burner, as long as you watch out for curious fingers.

2. Songs

What child doesn't like to sing? Especially about something new, like camping. Create a campfire sing-song theme using traditional, folk songs like "Did You Ever See a Lassie," She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain," or "On Top of Old Smoky." You can even make up your own songs. If you don't know any camping songs, look at Girl and Boy Scout resources, they have tons of camping songs to choose from. Sing the songs while doing the actions or make a campfire (pretend or real) and sit around it singing.

3. Tenting

It's hard to go camping without shelter, and tenting is the most affordable way to take kids out. You can create tent themed activities by setting up your tent in the yard. Start by showing your child how to put the tent together. Some tents are easier than others so she might not get the hand of it right away. If you don't have a tent, try making one with bed sheets or setting up a fort in the living room. Once inside, you can turn out the lights and tell stories using flashlights and even sleep in them if the weather is nice enough.

4. Crafts

A little glue and paper can create nearly limitless campfire crafts. Try making a campsite diorama on a piece or cardboard. Twist a piece of paper into a funnel, to erect a teepee-style tent and glue sticks in front of it for a campfire. You can even cut slivers of red, orange and yellow construction paper and poke them out of the sticks to represent flames. Add some trees using tree trimmings and enlist your child's toys to be the campers.

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