Camping Activities for Preschoolers
The weather is warming up. Campers and RVs are lining up along the streets as they come out of hibernation for seasonal cleaning and prep. Tents are being set up in backyards to check for potential repairs and airing out.
Sleeping bags and coolers are on sale at local stores. E-mails start coming in from travel sites with recommendations on where to travel and camp this year. Camping season has officially begun.
As memories of previous camping trips start flooding in, it is easy to get excited about future camping expeditions that have yet to be planned. Camping with toddlers and preschool-aged children might seem impossible initially, but it does not have to be.
Plenty of games, activities, and ways to include your preschooler in the camping process from start to finish will engage, entertain, teach, and excite. Whether your family prefers tent camping, glamping, hooking up to a camper, or traveling in a full-size RV, the following list of activities is sure to keep your toddlers busy.
Planning a Camping Trip
One of the best ways to get your preschooler interested in the upcoming adventure is to include them. Share the excitement with your child when deciding on camp locations, routes to take, and stops along the way.
Show them pictures, smile, let them hear the happiness in your voice as you trace your or their finger along the outlined roads on the map, and explain to them what can be seen or done at each stop.
If reservations are needed for campground spots, show your child a picture of where you will be camping.
When getting ready to pack, have your child help with their bag as you explain what kind of clothing to bring, if they will need a swimming suit, why they will need a particular type of shoe, pick their favorite toy or stuffed animal, and grab their pillow and a favorite blanket.
If this is your preschooler’s first time camping, having familiar items that soothe and bring comfort is an excellent way to help them feel safe and secure while away from home and what they know.
Camping Activities for Toddlers
Camping at Lakes
Whether you plan on camping near a body of water such as a lake, river, pool, or a larger-sized pond, plenty of water-related activities can be done for an adventure-filled day or a relaxed bonding afternoon.
If you are not going to be near water but have access to water hookups or outdoor faucets using natural spring water, packing an inflatable wading pool is another way to enjoy a day of water play with your toddler. Other water-based activities include:
- Water Balloons
- Skipping Stones
- Floating on Large Inflatables
Fun Things to do While Camping
Some days are best spent at the campsite relaxing or trekking through the surrounding environment. These activities will keep your toddler occupied and entertained and offer time to relax.
A slow-down day will benefit everyone, offering time to recover, relax, and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Scheduling a day to be less on the go will help your toddler avoid the tired tempers often seen after highly active days.
- Toddler-rated Card Games
- Toddler-rated Board Games
- Books toddlers enjoy looking at or have read to them
- Crafts: coloring, drawing, marshmallow towers, rock painting, leaf painting, building fairy jars, making nature rubbings by using crayons on paper placed over a leaf or flower, starting a pebble pet zoo by drawing on pebbles that look like animals from the zoo, create nature art to take home by gluing items found around the campsite onto paper to make a picture, create popsicle stick designs, and so much more.
- Cloud Watch
- Study Bugs
- Bring Bubble Wands and Bubbles
- Campsite Scavenger Hunts
- Create Rock Sculptures and Stick Castles
- Star Gazing
- Nature Walks and Trail Hiking
- Glow-in-the-dark Ring Toss using glow sticks and glow bracelets
- Glow-in-the-dark Bowling using glow sticks inside empty plastic bottles
- Firewood Hunts
- Draw in the dirt with sticks, leaves, acorns, and stones
- Make nature soup in a bucket
- Bird Watching
- Lawn Games that come in travel cases like ring toss, horseshoes, frisbee, and corn hole
Once you have your trip planned and preschool camping activities ready to go, the next step is to prepare the campfire songs. Don’t forget the marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers for s’mores while anticipating the fun to happen with your friends and family.