Indoor Camping Ideas For Kids To Spark Learning!

Indoor camping ideas for kids for learning

Camping might not be for everyone, but there is no reason why indoor camping with the kids shouldn’t be.

Today we’ll take a look at some fun indoor camping ideas for kids that are great for a rainy day/night.

And I will also explain the learning benefits that arise out of an activity such as this one.

You can make indoor camping as simple and budget friendly as you would like, or you can turn it into an extravagant event.

If you home school or have a home based daycare, you could set up a camping area in your house and keep it there for several weeks, targeting different areas of language development and learning during that time.

Theme based learning is a great way for kids to gain new vocabulary and skills.

Indoor Camping Ideas For Kids – Learn and Play at the Same Time!

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Here are some items you will need for your indoor camping experience!

Shelter

You can either make your own fort using blankets and chairs or use a kids tent or teepee.

But be prepared for some collapsing if you are making your own fort.

The Land of Nod has some really cute Teepees as well as cloth campers that work well as an alternative to the DIY tent.

These are great because children can use them for anything they come up with, their use is not limited to only camping!

Jetaire Camper Kids Playhouse – Jetaire Camper Playhousejetaire camper land of nod great for pretend play indoor camping


Teepee to Call Your Own (Silver Metallic) – Silver Metallic A Teepee to Call Your OwnKids Teepee Land of Nod great for indoor pretend camping trip

Learning Opportunities (Shelter)

If you have chosen to build your own tent/fort, talk to your child about what supplies would be needed.

How you go about this will vary depending on the age of your child.  If you are using a pre-made tent or camper you can talk about the steps involved in setting these up.

Keep in mind that the above teepee and camper are not “pop up” style.  This means you have to assemble them and take them apart.  These are meant to become part of your child’s play area.

Once the shelter is set up, you can work on the following:

♦ Vocabulary

Tent, camper, fort, shelter, door, wheels, windows, curtains, blankets (pretty much anything to do with the shelter)

Prepositions

In, out, on, under, in front, behind, around

Opposites/Descriptive Words

Warm/cold, wet/dry, big/little

Talk about why shelter is important

This would be more for older children, but can still be done with younger ones depending on their language level.

Discuss why we need shelter when we go camping and what might happen if you just went outside and slept on the grass.  You may be surprised at the answers your children will give you.

7 DIY Kids Forts for indoor camping activities

Campfire

What camping trip is complete without a campfire?

You can make your own pretend campfire following the steps below, or you can purchase a cute ready made one such as the one in the picture.

If you want a more realistic campfire that will light up, place some LED tealights in it.  These can be purchased at most dollar stores.

Indoor Camping Ideas for kids - The smore the merrier plush set land of nod

The S’more The Merrier Campfire Set

Make Your Own Campfire:

Supplies needed:

brown and black construction paper
yellow, red, orange tissue paper
pool noodle (optional)
glue/tape
LED tea lights

Simply roll the brown construction paper into “logs”.  Tape or glue them so the don’t come apart.

If you are able to get some pool noodles (thin ones, not too thick) they would help to make the logs sturdier.

Cut the pool noodle into about 4-6 logs and then wrap the brown construction paper around them.  Secure with tape or glue.

Next fold/crumple the tissue paper to make flames.

Last scrunch up the black construction paper to form rocks.

Once you have all of the fire parts made, assemble them into a campfire (similar to the pre-made one in the picture above).

Place the LED tea lights in between the logs and flames (this can also be done in the S’more The Merrier Campfire Set).

8 pretend camping toys

Learning Opportunities (Campfire)

Talk about why you would need a fire when camping (cooking, warmth, providing light).

Discuss fire safety – if your children are over the age of 3 include “stop, drop and roll“.

Talk about the kinds of food you could make using a campfire.

♦ Vocabulary

Fire, sticks, wood, rocks, flames

♦ Opposites/descriptive words

Hot/cold, bright, light/dark

♦ Colors

Red, yellow, orange, brown, black

Fun Camping Snacks

There are so many foods that you can make while camping (indoors or outdoors).

This would become a very long article if I talked about all of them, so instead I will discuss the campfire classic – S’mores!

Here are 2 quick ways that you can make s’mores at home without needing a real campfire.

S’mores Microwave Method

Ingredients:

Graham crackers

Make Oven baked s'mores for the perfect indoor camping experience for kids. Endless play based learning activities for kids

Marshmallows (large)

Chocolate pieces (chocolate chips work well)

Directions (for one s’more):

      1. Place a graham cracker on a microwave safe plate or paper towel
      2. Put a few chocolate chips or a piece of chocolate on the graham cracker
      3. Put one marshmallow on top of the chocolate and graham cracker
      4. Microwave for 15-20 seconds (watch it carefully so the marshmallow melts but doesn’t explode)
      5. Take the plate out of the microwave and place another graham cracker on top of the one with the melted marshmallow/chocoloate
      6. Wait for it to cool down a bit before eating.  Enjoy!

S’mores Oven Method

Ingredients:

Waffle cones

Mini marshmallows

Chocolate chips

Directions

Place marshmallows and chocolate chips into the waffle cone (about 1/2 to 3/4 full).

Then wrap the cone in tinfoil.

In order to prevent the marshmallows from sticking to the tinfoil you can try placing some parchment paper on top of the cone prior to wrapping with tinfoil.

Place the wrapped cone on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 8-12 minutes (flip the cone over at the halfway mark).

Be careful, it will be very hot when you take it out!  You can place more than one cone on a cookie sheet.

Learning Opportunities (Campfire Foods)

Come up with a list of all the foods that could be taken on a camping trip (your child can write these down).

Gather up all your play food to bring along on your indoor camping adventure.

Talk about foods that would need to be kept cold and which ones don’t.

If your child is old enough have them help you make the s’mores.

You can give them the steps that they need to follow which is a natural way to work on following (and giving) directions.

Camping Extras

Some additional camping items you may want to include are:

        • sleeping bags
        • pillows
        • air mattresses (if the parents will be sleeping on the floor, kids don’t seem to mind being directly on the floor)
        • flashlights
        • pretend fishing set

When Will You Go Indoor Camping?

All of the ready made camping supplies discussed in this article can be found at The Land of Nod.

Amazon also offers a large selection of kids pretend camping items.

Or check out this article for some wonderful pretend camping toys for kids that I have hand selected!

I hope that you have enjoyed these indoor camping ideas for kids and have realized how simple it is for children to learn a great deal while they are playing!

Have you done any indoor camping with your kids?  If not, what is holding you back?


Indoor camping ideas for kids, open ended play activities that encourage learning

12 Comments

  1. Matt's Mom

    Oh, they have come a long way in indoor tents and stuff for little kids. I can remember when my son was little and we did the camping tent and forts inside. What you have on your post – they are too cute. I like the smores recipe, we will have to give it a try 🙂 We have always just did it in the microwave which actually isn’t too bad either. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Yes, there are so many more toy options available nowadays. Some are great, while for others I often wonder “what were they thinking?“. Building forts and pretending to go camping was one of my favorite activities as a child. I would have loved to have that indoor camper! But chairs and blankets also work.

      Reply
  2. Raquel

    These are absolutely cool ideas! Thank you so much! I have never really been into camping, but I have to be ready in case my daughter asks for it in the future. And since these are just such lovely ideas, it got me excited to do this with my daughter. I love the camper kids playhouse and especially the campfire!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Yes, they really are Raquel. I also love the kids camper! If my kids were a few years younger I would definitely be buying one for them. There is no reason to be bored with one of those! I hope you and your daughter have a great time doing some fun indoor camping activities.

      Reply
  3. Results

    This article reminds me of my enchanting days as a child and how my imagination use allowed me do these types of activities and how pleasurable it was following my fun imagination.

    I still have my child like sense of humor, and when I see boredom or temper form in my 1 year old, these are the kinds of activities I encourage and promote.

    This is beautiful. Thank you for the little ideas I can now create for my toddler too.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      It is wonderful that so many of us have fond childhood memories of camping indoors. Children’s imaginations and creativity really come out through the most simplistic activities!

      Reply
  4. Bimmerguy

    What an awesome website! I remember making structures indoors like this when I was a child but this just takes it to a whole other level. I never realized that so many products existed for this specific purpose. Those tents and that campfire look so realistic. Kids gotta have a blast camping indoors with these things. Thanks for the great tips. I will probably get some of this stuff for my nephew. Thanks again!!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      I too have fond memories of indoor camping when I was a child! But all we had were chairs covered with blankets. I would have loved the camper and firepit! My sister and I would have spent hours camping in the house!

      Reply
  5. Sharon May

    Hi I enjoyed your article because it was most unusual. I remember fixing up camping things in the house for my children when they were young. We used to like making dens etc and it was so much fun. Though when they were bigger we did go camping outdoors and they didn’t think it was as fun as in the bedroom, lol I don’t think they liked the cold at night.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Sharon,

      I love having these memories as well. My sister and I had so much fun building forts and now our kids love this activity just as much. We take our children camping (we have a small camper) and the kids love it. If they didn’t enjoy it so much I would probably stick with the indoor camping more.

      Reply
  6. Boyo

    Growing up we always used to build ‘indoor dens’. It would typically be in the back room of the house where we would push the sofa out away from the wall. We would then simply drape a blanket over the top and take it from there. Sometimes this would stay there for a few days or if people were coming around it would disappear sharpish!
    It’s great to see that my kids now are also building their own indoor dens. We’ve certainly had the artificial candles in the den but we haven’t had a pretend fire. That’s a great idea (and totally safe!) and it’ll make it all the more exciting for them!
    Thanks for these ideas!
    Cheers
    Dylan

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Dylan, I too remember setting up forts in my basement as a child. And now it’s great getting to see my kids enjoying the same activities. We actually got them a fort/tent building kit called Crazy Forts (affiliate link). So they will switch between a “den” with sheets and furniture, building a crazy fort or using their pop up tent.

      Definitely try the pretend fire. I’m sure the kids will love it. You can also put marshmallows on a stick and pretend that you are roasting them. My kids actually prefer unroasted marshmallows. And they aren’t too messy that way.

      Reply

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