Teaching with a Camping Theme: Engaging Activities, Book Lists, and More

teaching with a camping theme featured image

Who loves to camp? Okay, I see your hand is waving in the air wildly as you flash back to those wonderful camping memories you have. Teaching with a camping theme can be tons of fun especially when you can do it without these… Hmm…got stuck in a heavy downpour? Check! Heard animal noises while you “tried” to sleep? Check! Heard the dog barking at the squirrel that ran by at 0500 in the morning? Check! Made s’mores over the fire? That’s more like it! Check! BUT, we all do it because guess what? 

Kids love to camp. No one is telling them to take a bath. No one worries if they’ve eaten an extra s’more. No one worries if they’re dirty when they go to bed because …you…are…camping! And, if you haven’t been camping, you have been missing out on one two very important things…

Camping theme step one: Create a Fake fire!

To help out the newbies, I thought I’d share my fire building expertise. You will really appreciate the tips. I promise and don’t try this in your classroom. Use a fake fire instead.

Steps to Building a Top-Notch Campfire 

  • Split dead limb into fragments and shave one fragment into slivers.
  • Bandage left thumb.
  • Chop other fragments into smaller fragments.
  • Bandage left foot.
  • Make a structure of slivers (including those embedded in the hand).
  • Light match.
  • Repeat “I’m a Happy Camper” and light match.
  • Apply match to slivers, add wood fragments, and blow gently into base of flames.
  • Apply burn ointment to nose.
  • When fire is burning, collect more wood.
  • After thunderstorm has passed, repeat the above steps….Ha ha!

Teaching Ideas for a Camping theme

If you haven’t done a camping theme in your classroom, I can assure you it will be a hit.

One of the first things to do is bring in a tent, sleeping bags, throw pillows, and maybe a few baskets that you can put your books in. Your tent will serve as your reading nook for the week. Many kids haven’t been camping, so you can help provide that experience if you set things up right.

Another great thing to do during your camping week is teach your students a few campfire songs. Believe it or not, songs work very well for addressing reading fluency. If you provide the lyrics, you can work with the song just as you would with a poem you’ve used. Campfire safety is a great idea too.

During the middle of the week, you might attempt classroom cooking with a few camp recipes. I love All Recipes for anything I need to search, and there is a whole section of camp cooking recipes. Your parents may enjoy coming in to help with something like that too. Another fun list of things you can make in a dutch over are right {HERE} from Jen Reveiws.

The week would not be complete without a large collection of camping themed books. When I started searching Amazon to see which popped out to me, there were FIVE pages of  book titles for children, so you will have no trouble. From these, I picked out a few favorites to share.

Who doesn’t love Amelia Bedelia? That is a definite read, and if you are in the middle grades, Heidi Heckelbeck, George Brown, and Ready Freddy books are super popular. As I was putting the list together, I also found a new Biscuit title I hadn’t seen, and I even found a few for the upper grades with The Graves Family Goes Camping by Patricia Polacco, Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris VanDusen, and A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements, so I know you’ll have a deep basket filled with lots of reading materials.

Finally, I would end with a culminating parent involvement night. Picture this…camp fire going and roasting hotdogs and smores over it. Perhaps you bring in a storyteller to share ghost stories (or not so scary stories depending on the age) and end with the children sharing the songs they’ve learned during the week. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Activity Ideas for a Camping Theme

Aside from the activities I mentioned above as your weekly schedule, I have also put together this Pinterest board to support a camping week. You can look at the full board using the link below, but I am also going to highlight a few favorites too.

Reading Nook Ideas:

camping classroom 1
camping classroom 2
camping classroom 3

Once your room is all set, you might check out the bulletin board options too. There are several options in the pins I saved, but I am quite sure there are many more if you search for camping bulletin boards. You could actually decorate an entire classroom with the camping theme if you wish, but I think even a week long celebration would be fine too.

Favorite Learning Activities

I always love to tie writing to things we read either through comprehension activities or a themed prompt. During your camping week, why not establish Camp Read A Lot and Camp Write a Lot with a goal of reading and writing for X minutes each day.

Since many campers write letters back and forth with parents, this week would be a great time to teach letter writing.  I love this freebie from Tara West. It isn’t a camping theme, but it fits in with the overall goal for the week.

This post] from First Grade Wow has many adorable ideas for campers (and great pictures!). Using flashlights to spotlight sightwords…lots of fun. I also loved her cute Hiking Acrostic Poems (imagine what your kids would include after hiking through the woods. Love it!

This craftivity includes a shape poem, but you might have your students write about sleeping in a tent or about having a sleepover.

When I saw the pin for S’mores playdough, I had to check it out. [This post] has so many neat ideas. I love the idea of making a pizza box over to make your s’mores in. Certainly, it ties in a little science. (and ironically, I saw a clip about making homemade pizza in them too.), so be sure to check out that link.

Free Camping Themed Teaching Resources:

camping theme word wall
camping theme reading and math
camping theme 5 senses

Camping Themed Tech Ideas

Camp songs work well around your “fake fire”, and The Learning Station channel on Youtube has a long list. Here is one to get you started.

Another option are these from Kids Camping. The lyrics are available, but the tunes are not. Even so, they would be fun to use as well. Just click the image below to access them.

camping theme songs

Finally, if you’re looking for campfire stories, games, skits, or songs, one other place to look is here on this website. After all, it IS the ultimate camp resource.


Resources from My Shop

Before you go, I have a little treat for you. (and it’s not even Halloween. 🙂  I decided to write a poem for this week, and I think it turned out really great.  Enjoy!

Well, I hope you found a few fun ideas and resources to keep those critters busy and learning, and if you do a camping week, I hope it is as fun as I expect it to be. Thanks for reading and come back soon.

other themed posts you might like:


Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I absolutely love your new blog design. Thank you for sharing the camping ideas

  2. Thank you so much, and thanks for commenting! I haven't kept up with my Thematic Thursday posts, but I hope to get that going again. 🙂

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