Thursday, June 6, 2013

End of the year camping

For about six years I have done a camping "unit" and the end of the year. I have added, removed and adapted many things over the year but the kids always have a blast.

As Cheryl from Primary Graffiti mentioned in her post Camping with Books we too watch the Beginners Guide to Camping pretty early on. I bought it so long ago I'm not sure where I got it or how much I paid but it is definitely worth it. I usually do some surveys about camping experience and have them brainstorm all the camping items and activities that they can thing of related to camping before we watch it just so I can get an idea about background knowledge. You can find a pdf of the file here but if you would like the ActivInspire version just let me know (it's nothing special but it helps start us out)

We typically divide the room into a boys camp and girls camp and then set up tents. Some years I make them write how to directions for tent set up (before and/or after). This year my boys had a bit if drama with this phase :-( but the girls were great.

figuring out the set up
girls' camp
boy's camp

Once the kids have worked out all the tent groups they pick team names and we start the competition. I give team points for all kinds of things/activities like: making team signs and visors, completing a camping word search, designing ideal campgrounds, trying different games/puzzles/mad libs, and finding things on the scavenger hunt. Sometimes I give extra points for speed other times there are bonuses for quality. Most things need to be turned in by the whole group at once just to help. They never knew what to expect and it kept them all actively involved through the last week.

The Sprinkles

The Wolf Den - notice the added ears and the howling :-)
When Cows Fly

While all the activities were going on we also scattered in a bunch of fun books. I typically read Bailey Goes Camping first (even though it is geared toward younger students) because it sets up the idea of home (or in our case classroom) camping. Then we scatter in some poetry (I love Toasting Marshmallows) and other short stories (When We Go Camping has great figurative language). We even look at some sections of non fiction books. I also have a bunch of chapter books available that they can borrow for personal reading.

two great non fiction books with tons of topics
We typically watch a couple of other short videos from YouTube to go along with the theme. A couple of years ago I downloaded one where Alvin and The Chipmunks go camping at Yellowstone (which they only seem to have backwards now - weird) and an animation of the old song Hello Muddah Hello Faddah (we also have it as a book).

We always take a "hike" around the school (on our walking trail) with some trail mix. Just to slow them down and encourage more looking around the kids complete a nature scavenger hunt. This year we also looked at some tree identification books that we brought along. I also did some introductory compass work before heading out and we stopped along the way to take compass readings.

let's see what we can find
totally into the tree identification

We went out another time with the compasses and actual did some VERY BASIC orienteering. The kids enjoyed seeing if they could follow the directions and get to the locations.

Of course no camping trip could be complete without s'mores. We used the microwave to heat them up. We discovered that 10 seconds works great with our machine.

We also made a couple batches of freeze dried backpackers spaghetti and meat sauce. This was also a big hit, with some kids coming back for thirds. This can be purchased at Walmart or other places with camping stuff. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures.

The highlight this year however were some visitors, Sure Foot Adventures, that came and did a camping program for the kids. They were fabulous with the kids and they brought a bunch of gear! They did a whole group presentation with great stories, then the kids rotated through 3 activities (rope tying, fire building, and checking out the camping stuff - tents, sleep bags, packs, water purification, etc.) and finally they wrapped up with a friction fire demo. We will definitely do this again next year! Below you will find a collage of a few pictures from the day.

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Customize your own picture collage

Somewhere near the end we always watch the original Parent Trap. This year it ended up broken into three session and the kids kept begging to watch more. They were totally into it and when it was over they wanted to go back to some of the songs and sing and dance along, it totally cracked me up. I took a video but it came out way too dark :-(

At the end of the week it was the Green Jelly beans that won the competition and they were awards Clif Bars and little lanterns that I got at Walmart.

The Green Jelly Beans - overall team winners

Overall it is always a fun way to finish out the year!

Here is an album of some pictures throughout the week

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize your own free scrapbooking design


  1. I love this post! I am changing my classroom theme from owls to camping. I am going to use so many of your great ideas next year. Thank you for sharing!

    Foreman Teaches

  2. I love all of these ideas! I will for sure be incorporating a camping theme into my classroom. I love your books that you have used as well. You have shared a lot of great ideas! Thank you!!

  3. Camping is such a fun theme to do with any age group of children! I will be using some of these ideas with my kiddos in the future when we talk about camping.

  4. Fabulous ideas! We have had "Camp Skeeter" for more than 16 years & have such fun! Parent Trap was our movie also.....want to do more than one day this year...inspiration!!!