Camping-Themed Activities for Preschoolers

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It’s getting toward the end of summer vacation here, and my thoughts have turned to school. I am so disappointed we did not get to camp at all this summer – it has been SO wet and rainy, and difficult to find a weekend when we’ve been both available and the weather has been nice. We hope to find some opportunities this fall as the weather gets a little cooler!

Sometimes you’re just in that season of life – for whatever reason, camping has become difficult. During those times, it can be nice to keep the idea of camping alive in your kids by talking about it. I already listed 12 great camping themed books that you can add to your bookshelf. Here’s another way for when you want something a little more hands-on – camping-themed worksheets and activities.

There are a bunch of resources online, but here are four free ones that I found that I hope are useful! Some of them are geared for homeschoolers, but you definitely don’t have to be one to enjoy. Nothing beats actually getting out into nature, but during the times when you can’t do that, this could be the next best thing.

2 Teaching Mommies

Free Camping Preschool Unit
PDF printables to practice concepts like patterns, number order, beginning writing/cutting practice, spelling, and more. Also, links to some other related resources.

Homeschool Creations

Camping Preschool Unit ~ Preschool Corner
Ideas and free PDF printables covering language, math, cooking, pretend play, and crafts.

Everything Preschool

Preschool Camping Theme
Ideas for songs, art, books, games, encyclopedia, science, coloring pages, and more. Geared to classrooms but can easily be adapted for home use.

Kid Sparkz

Camping Theme Activities for Preschool
A collection of a wide variety of activity pages and games. Also links to other downloads that are similar in theme.

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12 Great Camping-Themed Books for Kids

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Since we want camping to be as much a part of our kids’ lives as school or church, we try to keep our bookshelves stocked with children’s books about camping. Since our kids our younger, they don’t necessarily remember what camping is during the winter so this is a great way to talk about it. We only have a couple so far, but I try to pick them up when I see them and have the extra money to spend. We also bring them with us when we go camping, for reading in the car and in the tent. I thought I’d share with you some of our favorites and some of the others on our wish list.

*Note: these are books for younger kids that feature characters going camping. There are also a number of nonfiction camping books meant for older kids that I would love to get, but I am keeping for focus small for this post.

1. Maisy Goes Camping

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Maisy Goes Camping: A Maisy First Experience Book, by Lucy Cousins

When Maisy sets off to go camping in the country, it’s only natural that all her friends come along, too. But they soon find that pitching a tent is not an easy thing to do. Even if they do manage to keep the tent up, there’s the matter of fitting them all in — Maisy, Charley, Cyril, Tallulah, and finally, the huge elephant, Eddie. What a squeezy squish-squash! Good night, campers! Uh-oh-what’s that popping sound? (Age Range: 2-5 years)

2. Curious George Goes Camping

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Curious George Goes Camping, by H.A. Rey

When the man with the yellow hat takes George camping, George is very excited. There is so much to do at the campsite— pitching a tent, gathering water, meeting fellow campers—that George hardly knows where to begin (he only hopes the day will end with a roasted marshmallow!). When George’s knack for unintentional mischief gets him lost deep in the woods, George is scared… and being sprayed by a skunk only adds to the trouble. But George puts on a brave face, and he ends up saving the day when he puts out a small fire that could have endangered the forest. (Age Range: 3-5 years)

3. Fred and Ted Go Camping

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Fred and Ted Go Camping, by Peter Eastman

Fred and Ted—beloved canine stars of P. D. Eastman’s Big Dog…Little Dog are back in an all-new Beginner Book written and illustrated by P.D.’s son, Peter Eastman! In this story Fred and Ted go camping, and as usual, their uniquely different approaches to doing things (such as packing equipment, setting up camp, and fishing techniques) have humorous—and sometimes surprising—results. A charming introduction to opposites that beginner readers will find ruff to put down! (Age Range: 3-7 years)

4. Just Me and My Dad

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Just Me and My Dad (Little Critter), by Mercer Mayer

This well-loved Little Critter picture book has become a modern classic. It’s the tale of a father-and-son camping trip filled with Little Critter’s mistakes and good intentions. In spite of difficulties, however, the happy father and son manage to put up their tent, catch fish for dinner, and sleep beneath the stars. In spite of minimal text, the story is full and rich, with endearing illustrations from start to finish. (Age Range: 3-7 years)

5. A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

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A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen

Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when all of a sudden they find themselves plunging down a mountain and teetering on the edge of a huge waterfall! How will they find their way out of this slippery situation? Chris Van Dusen, the creator of Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, has filled this new adventure with charming illustrations and a playful, rhyming text. A fun read-aloud for children (and adults!) on campouts or snuggling at home! (Age Range: 3-7 years)

6. Olivia Goes Camping

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Olivia Goes Camping, by Alex Harvey

Olivia is super excited to have her best friend come along on her family camping trip. However Francine is not a huge fan of the Great Outdoors and is less than excited about the mud, the bugs, and the idea of sleeping in a tent. It’s up to Olivia to help Francine get in touch with her inner nature lover in this funny story that’s based on an episode. (Age Range: 4-6 years)

7. Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

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Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping, by Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is not too comfortable with the idea of camping … unless it’s on his couch! There will be no mosquitoes, skunks or zippers to worry about when he watches a show about the joys of camping on his brand-new TV. But first Scaredy must find an electrical outlet, and that means going into the woods! Will the nutty worrywart’s plans prepare him for the great outdoors, or will his adventure end up as a scary story told around the campfire? (Age Range: 4-8 years)

8. Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping

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Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, by Peggy Parrish

Amelia Bedelia has never been camping in the great outdoors before. She’s trying her best to do exactly as she’s told, but pitching a tent is not the same as throwing it into the bushes, and catching a fish with your bare hands isn’t easy. As usual, the mixed-up housekeeper makes this camping trip one hugely entertaining adventure. (Age Range: 4-8 years)

9. Camping

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Camping, by Nancy Hundal

Who can forget their first camping trip? “Holidays, lolling days. Mom wishes for museums and art galleries. Dad talks about fancy hotels. My sister Laurie wants malls, anywhere. Duncan dreams of arcades. And I long for Disneyland.” This year won’t be like the others. There will be no paintings or fluffy towels, clothes racks, jackpots or mouse ears. Nancy and her family are going camping. Just the thought of camping is bad enough. Outhouses, mosquito bites, burnt food and lots of work – what kind of holiday is that? But from the moment their campsite is established, the family slowly begins to discover the magic of life in the wild. Nights so quiet and dark, it’s like being wrapped in a blanket. Food that warms the stomach and awakens the senses. Swimming in the lake, climbing trees and lolling in the sun. And millions, no, bajillions of stars. More time, less o’clock. That’s what camping is about. (Age Range: 5+ years)

10. Stella and Roy Go Camping

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Stella and Roy Go Camping, by Ashley Wolff

This delightful children’s picture book tells the story of a camping trip in Yosemite taken by siblings Stella and Roy and their mother. During the trip, Roy continually tries to find evidence of bears in the animal tracks around them. Each time he does, he is contradicted by his sister, but then one night a bear really does appear. The book is populated by the animals and birds that call Yosemite home, and there is additional information at the back about each. The full-color paintings are engaging and true-to-life, guaranteed to capture the interest of just about any child. (Age Range: 4-8 years)

11. When We Go Camping

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When We Go Camping, by Margriet Ruus

In this beautifully illustrated book, one busy family finds lots to do from sun up to sunset. At the campsite, there’s wood to chop for the fire and fish to catch. And there’s lots of time to explore, climb rocks, splash in the lake, and discover animals in the shadows of the woods. As afternoon turns to evening, supper needs to be made, and just before bed, stories are told around the campfire. Each painting highlights the tracks of one animal, which curve from the text into the illustration. Readers can turn to the glossary for more details about the wildlife depicted on each page. When We Go Camping is a perfect way to preserve summer memories all year long. (Age Range: 6-9 years)

12. S is for Smores

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S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, by Helen Foster James

From what to pack, where to go, and what to do when you get there, S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet takes readers on an A-Z trail exploring this outdoor pastime. Veteran camper Helen Foster James tackles topics such as unique camping environments, equipment necessities, famous conservationists, and national parks and other attractions. Whether your idea of “roughing it” is a blanket in your own backyard or the subarctic ecosystem of Alaska’s Denali National Park, S is for S’mores is a fun and informative guide that is sure to help campers of all ages make the most of their wilderness adventures. (Age Range: 6-9 years)