41+ Fun Camping Activities For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Inside: fun camping activities for toddlers, preschoolers, older kids too! From fun activities to keep them busy when camping, to crafts and sensory experiences to try back home to inspire a love of camping.

Going camping is a memorable pastime of childhood and family life. It provides opportunity for unique and quality time together, and expands your children’s world through new and exciting experiences.

Not only will your children enjoy exploring the world of camping and all it entails, it’ll enhance their development and learning. Even if you’re unable to go camping trip, some at home camping activities will be fun and expand their knowledge. 

Benefits Of Camping Activities For Toddlers

There is so much for kids to learn from camping and camping related activities. Anything that encourages their natural curiosity provides opportunity for learning and camping activites do exactly that.  

Camping with toddlers will help educate them on the great outdoors and can spark a potential interest in and love for nature.  Camping also works on a child’s fine and gross motor development, as they move their body in various ways while exploring.

There are plenty of opportunities for sensory activities, in particular messy play, while camping.  In addition, cognitive concepts are constantly evolving through camping-related activities. These concepts include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Perseverance
  • Cause and effect
  • Following their natural interests and curiosity
  • Explore spatial relationships

Outdoor Activities To Do On A Camping Trip

These camping activities for kids are perfect to try when settled at your campsite as a way of keeping them entertained in a constructive way.

You can also try several back home in your backyard in preparation for an upcoming camping trip. Your child’s natural curiosity will be heightened as they explore these fun camping activities below.

toys for camping outdoors

1. Exploring with Walkie-Talkies and Binoculars

Any time you go camping, it’s helpful to have walkie-talkies and binoculars with you. Your kids will love using these to explore, or at least trying to.  Little ones may need help mastering the coordination of pushing the button to speak into a walkie-talkie, and then letting go to hear a response! 

But whether camping or creating adventures at home, these will provide endless fun. 

They’re also love spotting new items with a pair of binos. Make it a game where they see how many birds they can find through their binoculars.

2. Play with Glow Sticks, Lights, and Glow Balls

Simplify your outdoor camping-related play by just adding glow sticks, lights, and balls for your toddler to have fun with.

Glow sticks and light-up balls, like a glow football, are a frequently used go-to of mine in my “mom toolbox”.  If I ever need to get the kids moving after dark, this one’s a winner!  


hiking and camping activities for toddlers

3. Go Hiking 

Yes, I know that “hiking with a toddler” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s more possible than you think! You just have to make sure you’re setting your child up for success by catering to their capabilities as much as possible.

Decide if your child will walk or be carried, and if you plan to carry them, make sure you have a hiking carrier for them to ride in. Pack a water bottle and plenty of snacks as minimum! You’ll find plenty more tips in this article on how to hike with a toddler.

backyard scavenger hunt for kids


4. Nature Scavenger Hunt

An outdoor scavenger hunt is a simple and fun way to get your kids exploring your campsite (and easy to do in your backyard or part at home too).

You can approach this activity in a couple of ways.  You can either make a list of natural items for your toddlers to find or use the handy printable pictured from Cobberson & Company

Alternatively, leave it more open-ended and have your kids collect any materials of interest. You can then sort, discuss, store, decorate and play with the collected treasures.    

5. “I Spy” By Color

“I Spy” is a popular game to play in the car, but it’s also good to play when out and about, either on a hike or site seeing.  Or if  it’s your toddlers first time camping you can just play this at the campsite as there are likely to be lots of new things for them to see. 

Rather than playing by beginning letter, or sound, at the toddler and preschooler age I’d recommend playing by color.

So it goes something like this:  “I Spy with my little eye something the color xxx…”

You could also use other visual characteristics, like “..something sitting in the tree” or “… 

There’s so much opportunity to engage your child and expand their vocab and literacy knowledge with this simple and fun game!


6. Nature Sensory Bin

A large camp cooking pot makes a great vestibule for holding dried leaves and pine cones.  Add some mini diggers and trucks and you’ve got a simple sensory bin and the perfect activity for any truck-loving toddler.  

Or even simpler, forget the pot and just gather leaves into a pile for endless entertainment. This is a favorite activity of my boys, whether, camping or anywhere else!

Science & Math Activities To Try When Camping

Toddlerhood is not too early to introduce your child to science and math concepts. Try these fun camping science and math activities for toddlers which will integrate plenty of these concepts in a developmentally appropriate way.

fun Campfire Building camping activities for toddlers
Photo credit to usa.industrial

7. Campfire Building Styles

Practice building a campfire and construct your knowledge by learning different campfire-building styles. You could do this outdoors with sticks and logs. (Logs may be too heavy, but sometimes these tiny humans have supernatural strength when it comes to building!)

You could also try this indoors with pretzel sticks – a fun camping-themed math activity that will then double as a snack! 

8. Cooking Outdoors

Kids are never too young to be involved in cooking and baking activities. The most important aspect to consider is making sure the tasks you’re providing them are appropriate for their current abilities.

Parental supervision, especially with outdoor cooking, is vital. Roasting smores over the campfire is one of my kids’ favorite camping activities!  Or what about helping to cook hot dogs for dinner?

This Camping with Kids Cookbook is a great resource to have on hand for outdoor cooking with kids from toddlers up.

insect scavenger hunt camping activities for preschoolers

9. Go On a Bug Hunt

For some reason, all toddlers seem to be fascinated by bugs (much to our chagrin!) There are so many interesting characteristics of bugs that get kids curious and this free printable bug hunt will engage and encourge this curiosity.

Extend the fun with this toddler-friendly bug catcher for a bug-themed camping activity that all toddlers and preschoolers will love! 

Kidz Xplore Outdoor Explorer Set - Bug Catching Kit Nature Exploration Children Outdoor Games Mini Binoculars Kids, Compass, Whistle, Magnifying Glass, Adventure, Hunting, Hiking Educational Toy

10. Channeling the Outdoor Explorer

It’s awesome when children can take open-ended materials and use their imagination and play creatively. However, sometimes specific materials can help to direct and channel their play.

With a compass, whistle, magnifying glass, specimen holders, mini clipboard, and more, this outdoor explorer set is sure to cultivate your child’s natural curiosity for camping and the great outdoors.

Scavenger leaf Hunt for preschoolers

11. Leaf Scavenger Hunt By Color

This outdoor camping-themed activity is best done in the fall when you’ll easily find a variety of vibrant-colored leaves. First, go foraging for leaves from your campsite or on a walk from home.  Take along a basket or little bag to put the leaves in.

Once home, lay out all of your child’s leaf treasures and arrange them into colors.  I love this idea from Fox Farm Home, pictured above, to use paint chip cards to color match the leaves to.  

Looking for more simple activities to do outside?

Try these:

Creative Campsite Activities For Toddlers

Just because you’re away from home, doesn’t mean you can’t offer some creative outlet to your young child. They’re sure to come up with their own creative ideas, but here are a few if you need inspiration.

fun camping activities for toddlers

12. Nature Fairy Houses

Building Fairy houses with natural items will appeal to toddlers and preschoolers, older kids too.  My daughter loves creating her own little houses and will be lost in her own world of make-believe for hours! I know she’s not the only one. 

Fairy house building is such a unique and easy activity to keep little ones entertained at your camping spot while you’re getting with camp chores or simply relaxing.  It’s perfect to do if you’re camping near woods as you’ll find plenty of natural materials to use.  

If you want to try this activity at home indoors, you can simply scavenge for natural resources ahead of time and provide your child with a tray or bin to build their fairy house in. 

DIY Nature Paintbrush camping camping activities for 2 year olds

13. DIY Nature Paintbrushes

If you’re kids love getting creative and you’re off on a longer camping trip, why not take paints?  The idea might seem far fetched, but actually painting in the great outdoors has a lot of advantages to doing it at home. There’s certainly no possibilty of getting paint on the walls or furniture!

As long as you have running water at your campsite, and zip the tent up, what can possibly go wrong?!

No seriously, this DIY nature paintbrush activity is really worth a try and sure to keep your toddler or preschooler entertained.  It’s an engaging, layered activity as first you’ll need to take a nature walk to grab some natural materials. These will become paint brushes.

Then provide them with paint and paper so they can make their own masterpieces of nature art with their self-made brush.

Brave enough to give it a go?!

fun camping activities using rocks

14. Fun with Pet Rocks

If you’ve got your head around taking paints with you while camping, why not try creating some “pet rocks”.  You can also use paint pens for rock painting – easier to transport and pack away.  Just remember to pack some googly eyes along with the paint or paint pens.

You’ll have whole families of pet rocks before you know it, providing so much creative opportunity for your toddler or preschooler. And then plenty of dramatic play possibility as they play with siblings and other kids on the campsite. 

Find all the details at Fun A Day.

Looking for more simple creative activities?

Try these:

Quiet Time Camping Activities For Toddlers

It’s always good to have some simple camping activities and games for those inevitable wet weather days when you’re stuck at the campsite. Or simply for when you need some quiet time in the evening after a busy day out adventuring!

In addition, there are plenty of benefits to playing games from a young age They provide children the opportunity to exercise their ability to make connections, recall information, work collaboratively with others, and so much more.

Of course, any quiet time activities and games you do at home will be suitable too if the weather closes in, but here are some simple games and quieter time activities with a camping theme particularly good for little ones.

rock tic tac to camping activities for 1 year olds

15. Outdoor or Indoor DIY Tic Tac Toe

In order to facilitate outdoor DIY tic tac toe, create your own board out of scrap wood and rocks, or any natural materials at your camp spot. You could also just use pen and paper and simply play tic tac toe together while outdoors.  Here’s a free printable camping tic tac toe from Artsy Fartsy Mama.

16. Camping Journal

It’s never too early to begin working on your child’s emergent writing skills. The best thing you can do at the toddler and preschooler stage is to help strengthen their fine motor skills to help eventually develop their pencil grip.

Working on a camping journal with your child is a wonderful way to introduce them to emergent writing and journaling, as well as camping! At this age, you’ll likely find most success by notating what your child tells you, but it would be good to give them a chance to “write” in each entry as well.

i spy printable activities for kids and toddlers

17. Camping “I Spy” Printable

“I Spy” is super easy to play anywhere and with any age. Making a camping-themed “I Spy” extends the fun and learning as you introduce your child to different camping items and concepts.

Here’s a lovely camping I Spy printables that you can print off to use at home or take camping with you for some quiet time at your campsite. 

18. Camping Memory Match Game

You may think your toddler is too long to try a memory match game, but you’d be surprised! My 3 year old got the hang of it in no time and a few months on regularly beats me hands down.  I’ve always got so many to-do lists in my head my recall is terrible!  

Of course, you don’t need to play it according to standard rules. Your toddler will enjoy looking at the pictures or just matching the cards together without playing the memory aspect of the game. That will also be developmentally enriching.

outdoor activity for kids

19. Storytelling Around the Campfire

Telling stories around the campfire is a nostalgic and favorite tradition for so many. You can retell stories of your own or try this Campfire Stories book.

However, to make it more interactive for little ones, why not come up with your own stories as a family.  Begin with a prompt and going around the campfire, take it in turns to add a line to the story.

This interactive literary camping experience is so simple yet fun and enriching for a child’s development. It’s a simple and creative camping activity for toddlers

Outdoor bingo game activity for kids and toddlers


20. Camping Bingo (Free Praintable)

Bingo doesn’t have an age requirement; you don’t have to be a member of a retirement home to play! It’s so much fun for kids and makes an easy camping activity for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s a great way to help little ones understand the concept of  playing games in general.

To play the camping bingo pictured (click this link for instand download), call out each item for your child to mark on off. You can use small pebbles or simply mark them off with a pencil.

This helps their cognitive concepts as they make connections and problem-solve and is great fun too!

Related post: 30 FREE Printable Christmas Bingo Cards {5 Festive Sets}


Camping Safety Review Game for toddlers
Photo credit to im_the_simon

21. Camping Safety Review “Game”

Knowing the necessary safety measures needed for a successful camping trip is crucial, no matter a person’s age. You can teach your child these safety measures and precautions by turning it into a camping safety game!

They are much more likely to retain this information when they can interact with it in a creative and engaging way.  If you’re at home you can simply print out some images of different camping items to place on a safe/not safe chart, discussing each one in turn.  

You could also do this with several of the items when out on a trip, once you’ve set up camp.  You can mark out your safe/not safe chart on the floor using sticks or by drawing in the dirt.   

Camping themed Coloring Pages

22. Free Printable Camping Coloring Pages

Coloring is always a welcome activity for a child of any age although toddlers and preschoolers are more apt to scribbling! Some simple camping coloring pages will familiarize them with camping concepts and imagery and pique their natural curiosity.

Even the youngest toddlers can have a go, especially if more toddler-friendly coloring utensils are provided, such as triangular crayons or large crayons that they can grip better.

The free printable lined also has some themed activity sheets, perfect for older kids to enjoy.

Love free printables?

Here are our top picks:

Camping Crafts For Toddlers

Art is a wonderful outlet for childhood learning and exploration. In order to further educate your child on camping, crafts are a helpful tool. Here are some fun camping craft activities to do with your children.

DIY Flameless Lantern activity for 1 year olds

23. DIY Flameless Lantern

It’s common to use lanterns while camping, and your child will love creating their own DIY flameless lantern craft. These turn out so cute and can be used in camping dramatic play or at your campsite.

For this craft, you will need a plastic jar of some kind (an empty/cleaned out peanut butter jar works great or you can purchase empty plastic craft jars to use), a plastic or paper bowl, scissors, wide ribbon, a flameless tea light, a velcro dot, tissue paper, paint, a glue stick, and wax paper.

Barley and Birch has a wonderful tutorial to walk you through the process of creating your flameless lantern!

Leaf Suncatcher craft for toddlers

24. Flower or Leaf Suncatcher

Make a beautiful flower or leaf suncatcher together to remind you of the great outdoors you experienced during a recent camping trip. For this activity, you will need wax paper, flower petals/leaves/tissue paper, a pencil, a glue stick, a hole punch, and a piece of twine or some kind of ribbon.

Imaginative Homeschool’s suncatcher tutorial will help walk you through this process.  A fun camping-themed activity that’ll help develop your child’s fine motor skills.

Popsicle Stick Campfire Craft for kids

25. Popsicle Stick Campfire Craft

To create this adorable popsicle stick craft, you will need popsicle sticks, this free Couch Potato Camping printable, googly eyes, fire-colored construction paper, glue, scissors, and a black marker.

Your child will love getting the chance to glue everything together, and it will be a joy for you to watch their brain work as they make their own cute, friend to accompany on their adventures in this fun camping themed activity for toddlers.

S’mores Craft for Kids

26. S’mores Craft for Kids

Every campfire and every camping trips needs s’mores! Mama of Minis has an adorable and easy s’mores craft for kids. All you need is brown/white/black construction paper, a marker or crayon, and a glue stick.

Due to its simplicity, your toddler can do most of this camping craft activity, which will be very empowering for them.


Campfire Handprint Craft for preschoolers
Photo credit to kiddiecityllc

27. Campfire Handprint Craft

Not only is this campfire handprint a fun camping activity for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’ll also make a precious keepsake for years to come, a reminder of how just how small those little hands really were.

Start by creating campfire logs either with construction paper or by drawing them.  Then simply cover your child’s hand in paint using “fire colors,” and press onto the paper above the logs.

Your kiddo’s cute handprint will naturally be the shape of a fire and will look absolutely adorable on paper!

Shaker Lantern Craft activity for little kids
Photo credit to madebymecraftparties

28. Shaker Lantern Craft

Here’s a colorful shaker lantern to make, this one more activity, than craft, providing lots of sensory experience, fine motor practice and, most importantly, fun.

Your child will probably need help pouring the different noisy materials into the jar, as well as supervision to avoiding putting items in places they don’t belong!

They’ll have so much fun creating their shaker lantern and playing with it.  The beauty of the “flame” will entice them, and they can take it on your camping trip.

All you need is a plastic jar with a lid, a flameless tea light candle, some beads or other small plastic pieces, craft poms, glitter, or anything else you have to hand.  Tape the lid shut if you have any concerns with your toddler removing small pieces and putting them in their mouth.



DIY Binoculars for toddlers

29. DIY Binoculars

Toddlers are so curious about binoculars and always find ways to utilize them in their play scenarios. But you don’t need to buy any, or lend them yours. Have them make their own to use.  My little boy finds a new way to use his binocular toy just about every day, it seems!

All you need to make binoculars are a couple of toilet paper rolls or a paper towel roll cut in half, plus felt, rubber bands, twine and other craft cupboard essentials. Crafts by Amanda has an easy-to-follow tutorial walk you through the process.

Looking for more crafts?

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Camping-themed Sensory Activities For Toddlers

Sensory activities are an amazing and efficient method of learning for young children. When children can explore activities with their five senses, they can access the information in a tangible, formidable way that sticks with them in the long run.

These fun camping activities for toddlers and preschoolers below will give them an outlet to explore using their senses.

sensory camping theme activities for toddlers
Photo credit to bonding_with_b

30. Magnatile Camping Small World Sensory Bin

Magnatiles are the ultimate multi-tool of early childhood! They are so adaptable and valuable for many different activities in learning, and this is true for camping themed todderl activities too.

For this magnatile small world sensory bin activity, you will need:

  • some kind of filler for the bin, such as dry beans, uncooked rice, or oats
  • little people figurines of some kind
  • small sticks
  • scoopers
  • magnatiles (bonus if your magnatiles are fire colored!)

Then time to experiment and explore.

31. Sensory Tuff Tray Ideas

What even is a Tuff Tray? Tuff trays are large, shallow bins used often in sensory play that are ideal for messier play because they keep the contents contained but still allow the child the freedom to explore the materials.

You can use the Tuff Tray brand or a generic brand; they all work the same way.

It’s fairly simple to provide your child with a camping-themed Tuff Tray activity to explore.  These Sensory Tuff Tray Ideas from Bravery and Belonging will also help.

You could use dried oats or smashed-up cereal as the base and add real natural materials, such as leaves and sticks, and any other camping materials or toys you may have.

Campfire Clothespin Sensory Bin camping theme activities for toddlers

32. Campfire Clothespin Sensory Bin

This campfire clothespin sensory bin is Montessori-inspired and provides open-ended yet streamlined camping sensory play for your child.

For this bin, you’ll need sand, stones, craft poms, character figurines and a battery-operated tea light candle, plus other craft materials listed in this campfire clothespin sensory bin tutorial.   

First you’ll create popsicle stick tents and trees. Then add sand and stones to the bin, plus blue poms to create a body of water.

The light becomes the campfire, with clothespin logs.  Voila, it’s time to explore!

Play Dough Night Sky activity for kids
                           Photo credit to howweplayandlearn

33. Play Dough Night Sky

A special aspect of the perfect camping trip is stargazing. Whether you’re camping in the backyard, in the wilderness, or just learning about camping inside or at school, this playdough night sky activity is an adorable way to introduce the wonders of stargazing to your toddler.

Simply provide dark-colored play dough and star-shaped sequins for them to create their “constellations.” This activity is one of the simplest camping activities for toddlers, yet sure to be a hit.

Adventure Sensory Bin fun camping activities for toddlers

34. Adventure Sensory Bin

Cultivate your child’s natural sense of adventure through this camping sensory bin activity. This bin uses faux grass or turf at the bottom with plenty of natural resources and wooded pieces and scoopers.

This camping adventure bin is Montessori-inspired and will surely provide plenty of open-ended play.

S’mores Campfire Sensory Bin for preschoolers
 Photo credit to kimberlee32

35. S’mores Campfire Sensory Bin

One of my parenting pillars is: when in doubt, add a sensory bin! Sensory bins are super engaging for children; my kids can spend hours with a sensory bin if I build it according to their interests.

To make this s’mores campfire sensory bin, you’ll need uncooked rice.  It’s a plus if the uncooked rice is dyed fire colors like yellow and orange.  Then provide felt marshmallows and graham crackers.  Or simply provide the real thing and double this camping activity as snack time!

Camping Backpack themed Sensory Bin
                             Photo credit to speechroomnews

36. Camping Backpack Sensory Bin

To create this camping backpack sensory bin, you will need dried beans of any type, a backpack cutout, and cutouts of various camping-related gear and materials. 

Through this simple camping-themed activity, your toddler will be learning what’s needed for a successful camping trip. They’ll be educating themselves without even really realizing…the best kind of learning!

To simplify, make this into a game without the sensory bin filler.

Camping Cereal Sensory Bin for toddlers
               Photo credit to paytonparkeplaykits

37. Camping Cereal Sensory Bin

To create this camping cereal sensory bin, you’ll need Golden Grahams cereal or something similar. (The Golden Graham taste will be especially relevant for learning about camping because it tastes like s’mores!)  Then add marshmallows, forest animal cutouts or figurines, and camping cutouts.

You could also add blue pom poms to represent water as well as any other loose parts and materials that’ll help bring the sensory bin to life.

For more sensory activities


At Home Camping Activities For Toddlers

If your kids want to play at camping at home, try one of these fun activities.  They’ll help further their understanding of camping while keeping them busy inside and out.

backyard teepee outdoor activity for kids

38. DIY Teepee Tent

In order to get into the camping spirit inside, you need some kind of tent. Why not make this teepee tent? You’ll need three shepherd hooks, a tomato cage, twine, a shower curtain or large sheet and some kind of indoor battery-powered lantern.

Check out this tutorial from Angie Holden to learn how to assemble it.

Your kids will love acting out their own mini camping trip – dramatic play scenarios provide your toddler with a tangible way to express their imagination and process real-life experiences.

They can pack their bags, set up camp, organise their bedding, while you kick back with a cup of coffee (well, here’s hoping!) 

dramatic play camping activities for 2 3 4 year olds
Photo credit to dunnfamilyfun

39. Camping Dramatic Play

Love the previous camping activity but looking for something a little easier?  Put a pop-up tent up in less than a minute and your toddlers can get started in some fun camping dramatic play

A larger tent like this will have room for little friends too, giving them plenty of opportunity to express their newly developing understanding of camping concepts. 

40. Read Camping-Themed Books

Books are an essential tool to utilize in early childhood, as they further your child’s understanding of new topics and help develop early literacy skills as they observe you reading to them.

Providing camping-themed books for your toddler to flip through will pique their curiosity about camping, while also cultivating valuable bonding time for the two of you.

forest animal camping theme activities for toddlers
                              Photo credit to sunshineandmunchkins

41. Forest Animal Stick Puppets

Create your own forest animal stick puppets for your child to play with. They’re sure to enjoy getting involved in the process of picking the forest animal pictures and helping you make the puppets too. Though I use the word “help” loosly!

You can then allow them the freedom to create their own game with their forest animal stick puppets, or play a storytelling game. This is such an open-ended camping themed activity and wonderful for facilitating independent play at this age.

Camping Playdough Mats

42. Camping Playdough Mats

Toddlers and playdough are a match made in heaven!  You may get frustrated with the playdough crumbs left behind but, trust me, it’s worth it!

Playdough is a fantastic material to facilitate sensory play as well as cognitive development and mathematics skills, e.g. problem-solving and understanding spatial relationships.

These camping playdough mats are a great way to provide playdough time for your child while also introducing them to the characteristics of camping. Your toddler will likely create their own creations, but the camping images on the playdough mats will at least give them something themed to inspire to as they play.

For more simple activities to try at home:

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Time to Explore Some Camping Activities with your Toddler!

Intentional learning activities are essential for streamlining a child’s development. Picking specific topics to facilitate with your children will heighten their natural curiosity and engage their interest in the topics.

If you’re planning a family camping trip soon, facilitating one or two camping activities with your toddler or preschooler is a fun way to get into the camping vibe while preparing them for the fun!

Hopefully, the variety of these unique and engaging camping activities provides you with a good place to begin. After a few, you’re sure to be happy campers!

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A little about me

Mom of 4 kids, baby sleep expert plus home organisation and kids activities and crafts

Hi, I'm Sarah

Mom of four outrageously gorgeous Littles.  Yup, four!  The twins are now two and that title still brings me out in a cold sweat… Yet I’m just as determined to give them the best without losing my mind.  I reckon it’s possible!  Most days.  

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