Are you looking for a way to get your elementary-aged kids outside and engaged in the great outdoors? Look no further than camping! Camping provides a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about nature, teamwork, and independence while having fun in the fresh air.
Here are 15 of the best camping-themed activities for elementary kids to enjoy.
1. Set up Camp
Setting up camp is a crucial part of any camping trip, and involving your child in the process can be a great way to teach them valuable skills and get them invested in the experience. Depending on your camping style, this may involve pitching a tent, setting up an RV or camper, or settling into a cabin. Whatever your method, be sure to include your child in the process as much as possible.
Show them how to use the equipment, explain why certain steps are important (such as properly securing the tent or leveling the RV), and give them tasks to complete, such as gathering firewood or arranging bedding. Not only will this help them feel more involved and invested in the experience, but it will also teach them valuable camping skills that they can use in the future.
2. Take a Hike
Hiking is a wonderful way to explore the natural beauty of the area you’re camping in, and it’s a great form of exercise for kids and adults alike. Before you set out on your hike, be sure to choose a trail that is appropriate for your child’s age, fitness level, and experience. Consider factors such as the length of the trail, the difficulty level, and the terrain (such as rocky or steep sections).
Bring plenty of water and snacks, and encourage your child to observe their surroundings and ask questions. You may even want to bring a guidebook or app to help identify plants and wildlife along the way. Hiking can be a fun and rewarding experience for the whole family, and it’s a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.
3. Build a Campfire
A campfire is a classic camping activity that can provide hours of entertainment for kids and adults alike. Before you start your fire, be sure to check with the campground or park to make sure fires are permitted and to get any necessary permits or firewood. When building your fire, be sure to follow proper safety guidelines, such as clearing the area around the fire pit of any flammable materials and keeping a bucket of water or sand nearby in case of emergencies.
Once your fire is going, encourage your child to help with tasks such as gathering firewood or roasting marshmallows. You may even want to plan some campfire games or storytelling to keep everyone entertained. Just be sure to put out the fire completely before going to bed or leaving the campsite.
4. Go Fishing
Fishing is a classic camping activity that can be a great way to teach kids patience and perseverance while enjoying the natural beauty of a nearby lake or stream. Depending on where you’re camping, you may need to obtain a fishing license or permit before you can fish. Be sure to bring along basic fishing supplies such as a fishing rod, bait, and a fishing license if necessary.
Teach your child how to cast their line and how to patiently wait for a bite. You can also use this opportunity to teach your child about fish identification, catch-and-release practices, and conservation efforts. Fishing can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity for the whole family.
5. Play Campfire Games
Campfire games are a great way to pass the time and build camaraderie among campers. Classic games like charades, Pictionary, or a game of telephone can be adapted to the camping setting and provide hours of entertainment.
You can also invent your own games using natural materials such as sticks, stones, or leaves. For example, you could play a game of “nature tic-tac-toe” using rocks and sticks to mark the board, or play a game of “capture the flag.”
Stargazing is a simple yet awe-inspiring activity that can be done from anywhere in the world, but is especially rewarding when done in a dark and quiet campground. Bring along a stargazing guidebook or app to help identify constellations and planets, and encourage your child to ask questions about what they see.
You can even make a game out of it by challenging your child to find certain stars or planets. Stargazing can be a peaceful and calming activity that can be enjoyed by campers of all ages.
7. Nature Crafts
Nature crafts are a fun and creative way to engage your child with the natural world. Encourage your child to gather materials such as leaves, pinecones, or rocks, and use them to create art or crafts.
For example, you could help your child make a nature collage using leaves and twigs, or create a rock sculpture using stones found around the campsite. Not only will this activity encourage your child’s creativity, but it will also help them develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world around them.
8. Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a fun and engaging way to explore the campground or surrounding area. Create a list of items for your child to find, such as a pinecone, a feather, or a certain type of leaf. You can also include riddles or clues to make the hunt more challenging.
Be sure to set boundaries and establish rules to keep everyone safe, and encourage your child to work together with other campers to find the items on the list. This activity can be tailored to the age and ability level of your child, making it a great option for families with children of all ages.
9. Outdoor Cooking
Cooking over an open flame can be a fun and exciting way to prepare meals while camping. Encourage your child to help with tasks such as gathering firewood, starting the fire, and preparing ingredients. You can cook simple meals like hot dogs or hamburgers, or get more creative with foil packet meals or campfire pizzas.
Not only will this activity teach your child valuable cooking skills, but it will also create lasting memories of cooking and eating together in the great outdoors.
10. Bird Watching
Bird watching is a simple yet rewarding activity that can be done from anywhere in the world, including your campsite. Bring along a field guide or bird identification app to help identify different species, and encourage your child to ask questions and make observations about the birds they see.
You can even create a bird checklist or journal to document your sightings. This activity can be done at any time of day and is a great way to connect with nature and learn about the local bird population.
11. Canoeing or Kayaking
Canoeing or kayaking is a fun and exciting way to explore the waterways near your campsite. Depending on your child’s age and experience level, you may want to rent a tandem kayak or canoe to share with them. Be sure to bring life jackets and other safety equipment, and review basic paddling techniques before setting out. This activity can be a great way to teach your child about water safety, teamwork, and environmental awareness.
12. Campfire Storytelling
Campfire storytelling is a classic camping activity that can be enjoyed by campers of all ages. Encourage your child to share their own stories, or read stories from a book of campfire tales. You can also make the activity more interactive by having each person add a sentence or two to a collaborative story. This activity can be a great way to build community and foster creativity among campers.
Geocaching is a modern treasure-hunting activity that can be done using a GPS device or smartphone app. Encourage your child to search for hidden caches or containers using clues and coordinates provided by the app. You can also create your own geocache to hide for other campers to find. This activity can be a fun and exciting way to explore the surrounding area and learn about navigation and map reading.
14. Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a variation on the classic scavenger hunt that focuses on finding natural items such as plants, rocks, and animals. Create a list of items for your child to find, and be sure to include items that are specific to the local environment.
You can also include facts or information about each item on the list to encourage your child to learn more about the natural world around them. This activity can be a great way to teach your child about ecology and biodiversity.
15. Outdoor Games
Finally, don’t forget about classic outdoor games like Frisbee, soccer, and capture the flag. These games are a great way to get active and burn off energy while enjoying the outdoors. You can also adapt games to fit the camping environment, such as playing flashlight tag or having a campsite scavenger hunt.
Encourage your children to come up with their own game ideas and work together with other campers to create new games and activities.
In conclusion, camping provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. By engaging your child with the natural world and encouraging them to participate in fun and educational activities, you can create lasting memories and instill a lifelong love of the great outdoors.
With these 15 camping-themed activities for elementary kids, you’re sure to find something that will engage and excite your child during your next camping trip.