Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Camping

Something I had on our summer bucket list was to camp out inside. Then we had so much fun at Keystone State Park on my birthday that we started talking about going camping at Keystone State Park since the weather was supposed to be cooler that following weekend. The weather looked great for camping up until the Wednesday before when they began to forecast thunderstorms. We debated back and forth on whether or not we should still go. Ultimately we decided not to go since it would be the kids' first camping trip. We didn't want it to be a bad experience due to storms and rain overnight. Thank goodness we made that decision because a tornado went through our area that night which would have made for a bad camping experience! I had already planned a camping theme the week leading up to our planned camping trip so I went ahead with the theme which was a lot of fun! We will camp a different time!

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors.  (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
  7. Count with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last)
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • Play make believe/Imitate the behaviors of others (adults and children).
  • Know the names of and be able to point out body parts.
  • Groups things together by size or color/matches like objects, understands hard and soft.
  • Names common objects and is able to point them out.
  • Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously. Can draw a line. Differentiates between a circle and square.
  • Follows simple instructions (focusing on words such as in, on, beside, under).
  • Others: counts to two, refers to self by name. These I want to start to expose her to, but she isn't quite ready to master then yet.
  • I wrote the word camping on a sentence strip and we did our typical practice while looking at the word. We talked about the letters and letter sounds in the word. Then we counted the number of letters in the word.
  • For practice with their names I had the kids make their names with tissue paper to look like a campfire. Carter spelled out his name with a pencil and then traced the glue over it. I wrote Elise's name with glue for her. Then I put a basket with squares of red, yellow, and orange tissue paper on the table for them to crumple and push down onto the glue to make their names. I figured Carter would do his and Elise might do a couple letters of her name. I was surprised when Elise did her entire name and then moved over to finishing Carter's name when he lost interest. She loved playing with the tissue paper as well as using glue! I probably should have just made a large E for Elise because her whole name on the paper made it hard to read with all the tissue paper so close to each other. I figured it might be hard to read when we were done but I was afraid if I had Carter do each letter on a different piece of paper, he'd lose interest so I went ahead with all the letters on one page.
  • I made materials for pretend s'mores so the kids could play with them in a little sensory bin. I used cardboard for graham crackers, construction paper for chocolate, and cotton balls for marshmallows. I added some tweezers for the kids to pick up the marshmallows and pretend to roast the marshmallows. I also added toy plates for them to put their s'mores on and a magnifying glass so they could get a better look at the materials.
  • We made a fake fire by gluing red, orange, and yellow tissue paper to a clear plastic cup. Elise was so excited to help me and really enjoyed putting the glue on the cup. Then I put a special flashlight inside the cup to make it look more like a fire. The kids had fun pretending to roast marshmallows on the fire. I hot glued some cotton balls to sticks to use as the marshmallows for roasting.
  • We went on a rock hunt to find some great rocks for painting. Then I painted letters on the rocks to practice with some letters Carter didn't identify on his evaluation at the end of school. I also painted the letters of each of the kids' names on rocks and gave them to them. I put Elise's name in order and pointed out the order of the letters and how her name was spelled. I had Carter put the rocks in order to spell out his name. When I practiced the letters with Carter, Elise sat right next to him and repeated the letter name after he said it. It was so cute to hear her say the letter names and parrot Carter.
  • I pulled out an assortment of items, some things we take camping and other things that would be ridiculous to take camping with you. I had Carter sort the items based on whether you'd take them camping or not. Once he had them sorted I had him count to see how many we had of each. Then I had him figure out how many items we had out total by counting up from the 5 we knew were in one pile while counting the items in the other pile.
  • I had Carter write about what we do at a campsite based on what he had seen in books. I made three different sections on a piece of paper for times of day and asked him to draw what he'd do in the morning, at noon, and at night at a campsite. While he worked on his illustrations, Elise spent her time drawing.
  • A blog friend posted pictures of her sons playing in hammocks she made under their table using bed sheets. When I saw that I knew I had to do it as well because it looked like so much fun! I figured a learning theme on camping was the perfect time to do it. Carter absolutely loved it. He sat in his hammock and quietly read for a really long time. Eventually I had to ask him to get out so we could go on our playdate, otherwise he would have stayed in even longer. Elise had no interest in getting in hers so I ended up just taking it down.
  • I was so proud one morning as we were drawing when I looked over to see Carter had drawn a tent. While he was adding to his picture I helped Elise make a tent out of popsicle sticks. As she glued the sticks down I told her we were making a triangle and we counted to see how many sides our triangle had.
  • Carter is big on process art. He loves for me to give him random materials or allow him to choose random materials out of our craft bin to make art with. One day he pulled brown paper bags out of our craft bin and impressed me by cutting one apart and gluing the top together to make it into a tent. I made a small campfire out of popsicle sticks I colored brown topped with tissue paper fire and we played with some of their toy people in the campsite.
  • I gave Carter and Elise each 3 popsicle sticks and had them paint them white. The popsicle sticks were marshmallows for a s'more craft we made. I cut out the paper we used as the chocolate and graham crackers. The kids glued the pieces down and then I showed Carter how we could draw a face on the s'mores and he drew a face on the other s'more. I ended up writing "I want s'more of you," on the paper because I thought it was cute.
  • Each of the kids picked a special rock or two to paint. After they'd dried we added eyes to make them into pet rocks and then played with them. I thought Carter would love it but it didn't go over as well as I had expected. He mostly just chased Elise around with his rock, pretending it was a monster. And Elise just ripped one of her googly eyes off after gluing it on so she had a cyclops rock.
  • I saw different ideas for making a campfire using handprints on pinterest. I hadn't planned to make one but then as the kids were painting their rocks I decided to do it. I made mine a little differently using Elise's foot as a log and then using Carter's handprints to make orange flames while placing Elise's red handprints on top to make the smaller flames.
Special Snack:
  • We had planned to cook hot dogs over a campfire when we went camping but since our camping trip got tornadoed out, we cooked them over a fire in our firepit. Carter still really enjoyed it. He loves roasting anything over fire and cracks me up with things he says as he's doing it.
  •  After eating our hot dogs for dinner we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores for dessert. S'mores are a favorite of mine but both the kids would rather just eat marshmallows and forego the graham crackers and chocolate.
Make Believe:
  • The kids enjoyed going outside to gather sticks for our pretend campfire. I hot glued cotton balls to the end of the sticks and they played with them using the fake fire to pretend to roast the marshmallows. Carter's favorite was holding his really close to the fire and then pretending it caught on fire and blowing it out once he pulled it away.
  • I pulled out the play tent my parents got for Carter as a present after Elise was born. One of the poles was broken so I went into the garage and found random pipes and dowl rods Ty had and used them to hold the tent up. The kids could get in the tent but I couldn't. Elise got pretty wild in it, rolling around and bumping the sides which ended up knocking the tent over. We still pretended to camp even after the tent fell over. Their favorite thing to do is play in their sleeping bags. Carter loves for me to squeeze into his sleeping bag with him which is the best!
  • I searched and searched and searched during our learning them to find my old girl scout song book because we just had to sing those songs around our pretend fire. I was so excited when I finally remembered where I put it and could use it to sing some of my favorite girl scout songs with the kids. I gave them each flashlights to point at the book and then we sat around our pretend campfire while I sang. Carter's favorite was my favorite as a Daisy scout, The Cat Came Back. My dad has fond memories of me standing in my chair during Dad/Daughter date night while belting it out.
  • I found a camping song station on Youtube that we listened to throughout the week. It included some of the same songs we sang from my Girl Scout song book.
  • I found a Cat in the Hat Camp Game here. In the game Carter got to pitch a tent, search for logs for a fire, roast marshmallows, and catch lightning bugs. It was a neat game but wasn't the easiest to do with a touch screen which was a bummer.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • Since our camping trip got cancelled, we set up the tent in the living room. The kids enjoyed playing in it throughout the day, especially using their flashlights. I asked them if they wanted to sleep in the tent that night but Carter said he'd rather sleep in his bed so that's what they did. We left the tent up for a couple days for the kids to play in and then we took it down.
  • Flashlight by Lizi Boyd 
  • Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes
  • Curious George Goes Camping by Margaret and H.A. Rey
  • Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer
  • Maisy Goes Camping by Lucy Cousins
  • A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
  • Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt
  • Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George
  • Olivia Goes Camping by Alex Harvey
  • Peppa Pig and the Camping Trip by 
  • Biscuit Goes Camping by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • The Camping Trip by Cathy Hapka
  • Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish
  • Tiny Goes Camping by Cari Meister
  • I Can Go Camping by Edana Eckart
  • Turtle and Snake Go Camping by Kate Spohn
  • The Graves Family Goes Camping by Patricia Polacco
  • When We Go Campingby Margriet Ruurs
  • Stella and Roy Go Camping by Ashley Wolff
  • Splat the Cat: Good Night, Sleep Tight by Rob Scotton
  • Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi
  • Ladybug Girl and Bingo by Jacky Davis
  • Kids Camp! by Laurie M. Carlson
  • Camp Out! by Lynn Brunelle
  • Daniel Tiger: What's Special at Night by Daphne Pendergrass


  1. Looks like fun. I'm glad Elise is doing more and enjoying it. Lots of fun ideas.

    1. I'm loving that I can adapt ideas for Elise. I also love that she is more interested in reading and crafting!

  2. This is all adorable, and you are brave to consider an actual camping trip (glad you didn't go with that weather)! I am not a fan of camping; it's so much work to sleep outdoors, haha! Jon and Albani slept outside in our tent once this summer, but I got out of it because I was working the next day.

    1. I agree, it is a lot of work for little sleep! But we are wanting to visit more state parks and the most feasible way for us is to camp so we only spend $14 a night rather than booking a hotel! Cheapness is a big motivating factor for us! I figured it was best to try it out about 20 minutes from home so if it was a bust we could just go home for the night, haha!

    2. I am always in support of cheapness, haha! My family ends up spending more camping (due to buying supplies) than we would on hotels.com, so there is my other excuse. :-)