Camping can be an incredible learning opportunity for kids. Exploring the wildness with you can foster a love of science and teach them many practical skills. Children learn best through sensory experiences that engage their hands, ears, eyes, and nose. There are many fun and easy ways to engage their senses when you are surrounded by nature. Here are five ideas to make your camping trip educational.
1. Plan Your Trip Together
Involving your child in the planning process for your trip and giving them a few responsibilities will teach them practical life skills. Preschool-age children often don’t have the attention span for complex activity planning like researching campgrounds or creating a budget. Instead, you can involve your youngster in the process of planning meals and picking out supplies.
Once you’ve gathered everything you need for your trip, make a list of camp responsibilities. For example, your list might include setting up the campsite, gathering firewood, or meal clean up. Then, let them choose a few daily duties to take on. For big responsibilities, pair them up with an adult or older child. Kids enjoy being involved in the planning process and given responsibilities because it makes them feel like grown-ups. In the process, they learn essential skills they will use throughout their life.
2. Explore Nature
Walking through the woods, you are surrounded by plants and animals they can learn about. So, before you embark on your trip, pick up a field guide with local plants and wildlife that you can reference. Then, instead of just reading through the book together, put together some interactive plant and wildlife activities! For example, you could create a nature scavenger hunt with plants and wildlife you are likely to see or put together a nature notebook to record your discoveries in.
Camping trips are an awesome time to learn about the stars. Out in nature, you can often see more stars than you can at home. You can teach your preschooler about the constellations while you lay under the stars. You can find free constellation guides and fun constellation activities to do with your little one here.
4. Practice Survival Skills
Camping is the best time to teach your kid survival skills. You can show your preschooler:
- how to use a compass
- how to build a fire
- how to put together a shelter
- how to purify water
- how to spot edible plants
- how to deal with wild animals
To make it even more fun, you can have survival skill contests. For example, you could challenge your kids to see who can build the best shelter, find the most edible plants, or navigate their team back to your campsite first using a compass.
5. Document Your Discoveries
Encouraging your kid to document their discoveries will help them retain the information they learn on your trip. For example, they could collect leaves and flowers that they press into a notebook, create a digital photo book or make a video blog with you every day, sharing what they’ve learned.
With a bit of extra planning, your family camping trip can be an enriching learning experience for your kid. There is no better place to learn about the natural world and gain practical life skills than in nature. We hope these ideas inspire you!