Can you go camping… without actually camping? We did…
One among many plans to be displaced around here in September was the long-awaited Navigators’ campout for the kids, which had been scheduled for the Friday after Labor Day. The counties were still under a state of emergency then, and backyards were swamplands, so we couldn’t go. But I had planned some camping activities for the week, to help my kids prepare for sleeping outside and cooking over a fire, and we had already started our camping theme before the storm hit.
Our book basket included Maisy Goes Camping, The Bear Scouts, Bears in the Night, Just Me and My Dad, Franklin in the Dark, What’s Under the Bed, Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, The Chizzywink and the Alamagoozlum, and The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night. These picture books were great for GoGoGirl and helped give her a starting point for talking about being scared in the dark on a campout, especially Franklin and What’s Under the Bed. KarateKid liked the humor in Bear Scouts and Me and My Dad. We read and sang The Fox Went Out several times each morning and listened to different versions of the song.
For science that week, we studied nocturnal animals, read from several of our nature books about them, and sketched a bat from the specimen my sister carefully preserved for us.
Before reading our books on nocturnal animals, I asked the kids to tell me what they knew about nocturnal animals. As I expected, KarateKid had a good grasp on the concept, and GoGoGirl really didn’t. At one point in our discussion, I turned to her and asked, “Do you know any other nocturnal animals?” She told me, “Dinosaurs!” I paused. After a moment to decide how to handle this response, I went with a gentle, “Honey, dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore.”
GoGoGirl, hands on hips: “You have GOT to be kidding me!” There’s a pause, and the look of gears turning in her head. Then, with indignation: “WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?!” as if I’ve spoken some shocking revelation about cute and cuddly dinos who were alive just last week! Moments like that are why I adore being home with them and being in on the nitty gritty of learning that dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore – split my sides laughing and loving her.
Other resources we used included a Camp Out! playlist I put together on Spotify, which included lots of fun camping songs and several versions of The Fox Went Out. We also used several pieces of the Camping Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations (especially the counting cards and 3-part cards) and some from 2 Teaching Mommies (they loved the roll-and-graph).
The kids also spent a lot of time this week playing with their dollhouse tent and several dolls, and using the playsilks to make a camping scene. I love the brown “woods” fabric we have – it is silky and lovely, and was 50 cents at a garage sale about two summers before I even had kids.
The kids each made a construction paper and marker picture using collage and drawing techniques. I cut several triangles and rectangles for GoGoGirl and helped showed her how they could be glued down to look like a tent – from there, I let their imaginations go!
These pictures were mostly inspired by Maisy Goes Camping, as GoGoGirl tried to imagine how many of her friends or animals could fit in that tent. POP! Out came Maisy!
We also made campfire handprint paintings – the kids loved this! Start by painting the pinkie side of your hand brown, then stamp it on the paper twice, making an X shape to be the logs. Next, paint the palm of your hand in reds, oranges, and yellows and stamp it down above the X to be the flames.
Naturally, we had special camping food too. We ate marshmallows and mini s’mores, pork and beans, and one delightful camping-themed Muffin Tin Meal!
I made roll-up sandwiches with whole wheat wraps, turkey, cheese, and carrots – when cut into sections, the kids think these make great logs! We also had little smokies on teeny weeny roasting forks, and goldfish crackers that we’d just caught in the stream. Washed it all down with bug juice, of course!
So, the kids got a week full of camping experiences, even if we never made it into that tent.