Kids love the adventure of camping! Particularly when it comes to camping in a dramatic play scenario, anything can happen! When I set up a camping theme dramatic play area this week, my own 3 year old asked, “And where is the bear?” I could guess he already had a storyline brewing. In the course of a few days, he and his friends camped, chased bears, were bears, and in a strange twist, even turned their tent into a tank and joined the military. (I told you anything could happen!)
So here are the supplies I suggest for a camping dramatic play area. PLEASE let me know what you like to add!
- A tent, of course! I used a play tent here, but I’ve also used a real dome tent in larger areas or outside.
- Backpacks – stocked with blankets, flashlights, old cell phones, compasses, binoculars, and play food.
- Location, location, location! Add something to make your woodsy retreat. If you’re setting up outside, great! You’re done! Here I used a tree prop. It’s made from a large cardboard box (from a car seat, I think), opened on one side and then folded out into a large strip. These folds make it much easier to store. I tape up fall leaves, apples, and anything else I may need to make a more specific tree. You can’t see the color much in this photo, but I colored the canopy of the tree using three crayons in different shades of green, holding all three at once, and drawing curly cues all around.
- Reading Resources. You may add some field guides, or nonfiction animal books for the campers to use to identify their furry and feathered neighbors.
- Characters. With my son’s request, I also added a bear puppet. You may want to add other animals as puppets, stuffed toys, murals, or even birds suspended from the ceiling if you’re that ambitious!
Dramatic play encourages symbolic thinking, a necessary skill for reading. Also, social and language skills grow by leaps and bounds as they negotiate and implement roles and plots. (To learn more about dramatic play, click here!) Camping is a great dramatic play theme for many nature units, including trees and leaves, fall, and animals.
What would you add to this camping props list?
For more favorite fall activities, click here!
Top photo by porah.