Looking for things to do while camping with toddlers? Sleeping in a tent outdoors can be a great adventure. To make the most of your family holiday, here’s a list of fun and easy activities to keep your kids entertained.
Do a scavenger hunt
What better way to explore the outdoors than with a scavenger hunt. Give your little one a list of things to find and check them off as they go. It’s a sensory game for children of all ages that is educational and fun! There are lots of free scavenger hunts that you can download online, The Crazy Outdoor Mama has designed a selection. Or you can create your very own list, unique to the campsite you are staying at. Let your child lead the way and write down the items they find. Your toddler can collect treasures from the wilderness in a backpack and use them as inspiration for arts and crafts later.
Go on a short hike
Going on a short hike is a great way to explore the area around your campsite. Camping In The Forest recommends walking no longer than a mile. As you navigate the trails, talk about the wildlife you see along the way. Remember to point out what you see such as birds, worms, snails, and squirrels. Count how many flowers you see hidden in amongst fallen leaves. Allow them to explore. Make sure you have a baby backpack carrier in case they get tired. You can also use the backpack for nap time so that you are able to stick to their normal sleep routine.
Play in the rain
No matter where you go, there will always be a chance of rain. But you don’t need to let bad weather dampen the mood. Pegs And Pitches say there’s something quite special about walking in the rain while everyone else is indoors. Tuck your toddler’s toes into a pair of bright wellies with a big raincoat and let them splash in the puddles. A board game and cup of hot chocolate will be waiting back at camp when you return.
Read books about wildlife
Reading is a perfect activity to help your toddler to wind down after a fun-filled day. Crazy Outdoor Muma has put together a selection of outdoor books to inspire their adventure. If your toddler is afraid of the dark, I would recommend packing a head torch for them to wear at night. Get Out With The Kids says that most adult head torches can be adjusted to fit children. But there are so many fun designs available that they will love to use, including novelty designs of frogs, dogs, and dinosaurs!
Have some free playtime
Not all the time you spend on holiday needs to be structured. Allow a few hours of free play with the toys they brought with them. In fact, this activity is crucial to your child’s development in the early years. Number one playground specialist, Pentagon Play, says that it encourages creativity while developing cognitive and physical abilities. So you can have a guilt-free five minutes with a cup of tea and a book or just sit and listen to the birds. Enjoy the quiet while it lasts!
Ride a balance bike
A campsite is an ideal place for toddlers to practice using a balance bike. It’s a safe, traffic-free zone with lots of spongy grass in case they fall. The Outdoor Dad says balance bikes give them confidence on two wheels, allowing them to learn how to ride before they pedal, and should eventually mean they don’t need stabilizers.
Make a scrapbook
You don’t need to take lots of toys with you as nature is the best playground. But filling the pages of a scrapbook is a creative way to reflect on the day’s activities. It will also give you a journal to look back on for years to come. Help your child to draw a leaf you found on your hike, a pine cone you found in the forest, or a shell you found on the beach. It’s always nice to add a date to the drawing for when you revisit the happy memories.
Pack plenty of snacks
Pack plenty of healthy snacks to keep energy levels up when you’re exploring the outdoors. Yummy Toddler Food recommends carrot sticks, humous, apples, raisins, snack bars, trail mix, and fruit pouches. You may want to take a stove for hot meals and much-needed coffee in the morning. Gathering twigs and sticks for a campfire is another fun activity that your toddler can do, but make sure toddlers are kept at a safe distance when you light the fire. Toasting marshmallows and making s’ mores is strictly for adults only!
Look up at the stars
If you live in a city, there is a chance your child may not have seen the stars clear from light pollution. There are lots of resources to help you find stars for every month of the year. You can also use The Milky Way app. Point your phone up to the sky and the app will tell you which constellations you can see. Before bedtime, gaze up into the night’s sky and ask them to spot the moon. They will be amazed by how many stars they can see on a clear night. Count them if you can!
Go wild swimming
Camping is a time to reconnect with nature. If there is a lake nearby with shallow waters, or perhaps you’re staying by the beach, there is no better way to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Toddlers love to splash around in the water and play in the sea as it laps the shore. The Life Jacket Advisor has reviewed eight of the best swim aids that can not only protect your little one from the sun but also help to keep them safe in the water. With swim aids on and floats to hand, it’s always worth checking the water before going for a swim.
If you are swimming in a lake, check the shallow water for rocks and holes. Be mindful of the cleanliness of the water too, the higher the stream, the better the hygiene. When swimming in the sea, always check the tides before heading to the beach and avoid if there are strong currents. You can build sandcastles or explore rock pools instead!