To finish off this ‘go wild for nature’ series, how about having the ultimate nature adventure? Camping for kids is a great way for connecting to nature.
Your camping trip doesn’t have to be in a wild, isolated region. It can be right in your local area and even in the backyard. Adults often need to get farther away than kids do to put some distance between play and work. While screens and phones can be packed along with the tent and sleeping bags, getting away from somewhere familiar adds some miles in the mind. For kids, sometimes the biggest challenge is being unplugged from their regular bed. Maybe instead of having to decide close or farther away, you can do more than one.
No matter where you go, nature will be closer. The open spaces invite kids to come outside. There are places to explore and discoveries to make, grass to roll in or trees to climb. Sometimes, camping might be near water, from small ponds to ocean beaches. Certainly, there is lots of stimulation for the senses. So many new things to see, hear, and touch, mean new words and experiences to add to kids’ brain banks. The same foods can taste different outdoors, and if they are cooked on a campfire, they don’t smell the same either. Will smokey dogs and s’mores be on the menu?
These close encounters of the nature kind, teach both kids and adults to manage new risks. The challenges of nature mean we can ‘t take safety for granted. Camping means not just a day outside but a night too. What a marvelous opportunity to watch the night sky and see the stars. The dark and unfamiliar noises can be scary for young children, especially after any ghost stories.
Most days, nature time is for minutes, or only a couple of hours. A camping trip gives all of us time and space to connect with nature, and with each other. No matter if it’s near or far, will your family go camping?
Camping at the North Pole? A local high school student just received an Arctic Scholarship. She was one of 65 chosen from 13 countries to camp and learn as they visit 5 North Pole areas this summer. Cassandra E’s comment “I went camping with my parents a lot when I was younger…” was echoed by other members of the Students On Ice Arctic 2011 team. Each of them talked about their connection to nature and many are planning environmental careers. Because this started when they were young children it’s the perfect wrap-up to this blog series on camping and learning.
I get so excited when I read or hear something that confirms the effect of early learning, starting long before kindergarten readiness and continuing on past high school and beyond. It’s very hard to predict the future and what will be meaningful to little ones years and years down the road. But providing a variety of experiences in all kinds of areas will not only encourage readiness for kindergarten but enrich their lives, too. What early learning experiences have been most meaningful for you? Happy Camping!
Pirates aren’t the only ones that look for treasure. And there is treasure in the natural world. Many psychologists are finding that kids and adults need time outdoors. Camping is an ideal time to encourage this bond with nature. More than just readiness for kindergarten, this will be part of your child’s future.
One way to reinforce the connection with nature and treasure is to go on a scavenger hunt. Even very young toddlers like to explore and discover. Some things to look for are:
- a pine cone,
- a piece of bark or wood,
- a twig (with 2 arms)
- a round rock (or smooth, flat, etc.)
- a feather
- a seed
- a leaf
Some items to find but only look at might be a spider web, a flower, a bug or worm, and other forest creatures. In addition to appreciating nature, there are such kindergarten readiness skills as careful observing, remembering 2 or 3 or more things at a time, matching an item to the category, choosing, explaining, meeting a goal, and more. This scavenger hunt is finding that learning can be fun and exciting. Wood…er, my apologies, would you agree that’s a real treasure?
Once the tent is up or the camper parked it’s time to explore. I often thought that one reason pirates are so popular with kids is because they share this same urge to explore. But this need to discover can be a big help when it comes to readiness for kindergarten. When kids arrive at school, … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Camping Helps With Directions
There is no doubt that imagining is a form of play. Did you know it is also a very necessary thinking and relationship skill? When helping children learn good behavior choices we often ask them to think how the other person is feeling. In order to understand how someone else is feeling a child needs … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Camping is for Imagining
No, this isn’t a blog about dogs. I’m still posting about fun and learning when camping. This bog combines science, art, and, of course, readiness for kindergarten. Camping usually involves a place where there’s trees. For another woodsy idea, try bark rubbing with your child. An adult is needed to hold the paper along with … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Barking Up The Right Tree
1 little, 2 little, 3 little round rocks…or sometimes they are not so round but they are great for some math. Math activities will certainly be part of the lessons and play at kindergarten but the more math experiences kids have before arriving at school the better will be their foundation. Here is a simple … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Camping Rocks For Math
One person’s junk may be another person’s treasure, but when it comes to kids everything is treasure. Collecting “treasures” found when camping is a valuable kindergarten readiness activity. To start, kids practice paying attention to what they see and learn to search for their particular items. They check the characteristics of things they find to … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Camping Collections
Camping seems to give food a new flavor. When the kitchen is outdoors kids enjoy helping and being involved with cooking. Some camping favorites that are not too complicated for children’s help are trail mix, toasted marshmallows, ‘smores, hot dogs, baked apples, potatoes in foil jackets, corn on the cob, kebobs, and everything-but-the-sink foil pouches. Did you know there … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Cook Up Some Learning
While we hope all the days we are camping are sunny, chances are some of those days will have rain. Finding things to do can be challenging when the weather is wet. One activity that can keep little ones busy is drawing and coloring. Paper, crayons or felts and, of course, imagination. (For older kids, it helps … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Drawing About Camping