As we’ve mentioned before, play is one of the ways that children learn best!
Through dramatic play, they can act out different scenarios, explore how places and routines in the real world work, and build their literacy skills.
You can let the children play on their own and/or engage them in a plot line/story line for some structured play. For example: someone can be the campground manager checking people in, and someone else can be a camper arriving.
Setting the Scene:
Here are a few simple ways to transform your living room into an engaging atmosphere for a campground dramatic play centre this weekend.
If you have a tent, go ahead and pitch it in an open space to start off your campground experience.
Pro-tip: If you don’t have a tent this is a great opportunity to get creative and constructive minds working by making a blanket fort instead!
If you have a green or brown sheet, throw it down onto the floor for pretend dirt/grass. If you have blue pieces of fabric, a small blow up pool, or blue sheets, you can throw those down to be pretend ponds!
Making a pretend campfire is simple and uses very little materials. The campfire will be a great way to engage in circle time story-telling, song singing, or pretend s’mores play. Start saving up those toilet paper and paper towel rolls for this easy to make campfire.
- 4 paper towel rolls (or 8 toilet paper rolls)
- Brown construction paper or a brown felt pen
- Red, orange, and yellow construction paper
- Red gift tissue paper (optional)
- Hot glue gun
Step 1: Wrap your paper towel rolls in brown construction paper or colour them brown if they aren’t already. Add some dark squiggle lines all over them to make them appear a bit more “log-like”. If you are using toilet paper rolls glue two together to make 4 longer logs total.
Step 2: Plug in your hot glue gun (Adults – this part is for you!) and begin gluing your logs together so they are layered like a campfire.
Step 3: Create flames by using red tissue paper and construction paper, and then glue the tissue paper and construction paper flames to the areas of your fire you’d like to have flames.
It works best if you glue the tissue paper in bunches, and cut flame outlines out of the construction paper.
That’s it, you are all done! Find a spot near your tent to set your fire.
Pretend S’mores and Roasting Stick
This is an easy way to ramp up the realism and really create the sense of camping. Next time you are out on a walk with the family start collecting some sticks that look like good marshmallow roasting sticks!
- Tree branch/stick
- Recycled cardboard
- Cotton balls
- Black construction paper
- Hot glue gun
Step 1: Grab some recycled cardboard from a cereal box or similar box and cut out 1 graham cracker sized square (roughly 2″ x 2″). Once that one is cut out, use it to trace out 11 more squares as all of them should be roughly the same size.
Cut them all out. You will have 12 squares total.
Step 2: Once all of the squares are cut out, pair them up and hot glue the pieces together so that it’s only the brown portion of cardboard showing on the outside.
Step 3: All together you should have 6 graham cracker squares. Use a pen to trace a line down the middle of each side of the squares and poke some pen dots all around to make the cracker look grainy.
Step 4: Using those same square templates, trace onto black construction paper to make 6 pieces of chocolate. Cut those out.
Step 5: Throw the graham crackers and chocolates into a bowl with a bunch of white cotton balls (that will act like marshmallows) and you have pretend s’mores!
Step 6: To make marshmallow roasting sticks, simply hot glue the cotton balls onto the top of one of your collected tree branches!
A few more ways to expand your campground:
Use these templates we have provided to add a literacy component to your play. Using the labels on different items (such as your tent) will demonstrate that letters/words have meaning and relate the written word to things children can experience.
This is a great way to build literacy skills!
Add in Play Writing
We have provided a “campground registration” form for you to print so children can pretend to be signing in!
Children do not need to be able to read to use this. Simply let them know what the sheet is for and allow them to place scribbles on the pieces of paper and check off the dots to engage in literacy while they play!
Create a pond with fish and fishing rods! Tie a string to one of your leftover tree branches to make a pretend fishing rod then cut out some fish for the pond. You can use construction paper, felt or recycled cardboard to make these fish.
Want to create an extra activity for the children? Get them to decorate their fish for the pond!
Be Bear Aware
Put out some stuffed animals around the campground to practice bear safety and how to behave around other wild animals!
Go birdwatching with these toilet paper roll binoculars.
Sing Campfire Songs
Need some extra songs to sing around your campfire? Check out these campground songs and stories.