Camping Essentials and Science Activities for Kids
Camping with your kids is a wonderful opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Not only can they explore nature but they can spend time doing fun activities with the family. Camping is a way for different generations to connect and have an enormous amount of fun.
In this article, I’ll be sharing some of the essentials you’ll need for your trip. I’ll also share some ideas for a variety of science activities that will keep the kids entertained with some camping products.
Camping Essentials for Kids You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without
As every experienced camping parent will tell you, camping with your children requires a little preparation before the time. The last thing you want is fussing, cold or sick children on your hands because you forget some of the essentials.
Read on for a list of items you should always include in your children’s camping bags:
- Jackets: Even if the weather report predicts warm and sunny temperatures, it’s important to take jackets. Remember, temperatures could drop in the evenings, and you never know when a bout of rain will suddenly make an appearance!
- Toiletries: It’s important to pack toiletries such as toilet paper, a small bottle of liquid soap, a small towel and a face cloth. Smaller bottles will be lighter to carry.
- Flashlight: Ideally, each person on the camping trip should have their own torch (or smartphone). That way everyone has light with them at night. It’ll also make your kids feel safer at night if they have their own light.
- Hand sanitizer: Your campsite might not be near clean water. Hand sanitizer is a perfect way to keep hands clean.
- Camping snacks: A variety of nonperishable snacks is crucial. Kids need something to snack on while they wait for dinner or lunch to be prepared. Ensure you have food as well as bottled water and a couple of juices.
- Sunscreen: Never leave home without sunscreen for all the children, irrespective of their ages.
- Hat: Everyone should have a hat to protect delicate little skins from sunburn.
- Baby wipes: Baby wipes or some safe pacifier wipes go hand in hand with the hand sanitizer and can be used to keep everything from hands to eating utensils clean.
- Insect repellant: Camping is guaranteed to put your kids in direct contact with some creepy crawlies. This can leave you with fussy little ones when they start itching from mosquito bites.
- Antihistamine: Always keep some antihistamine in your own bag. You never know when a plant or insect will cause an allergic reaction.
I’ve found it useful to give older children their own backpacks with their essentials in. That way they always have what they need right with them. Getting them involved in packing and checking their own bags adds to the excitement of the trip. Always double-check their bags before leaving on your journey.
Fun Science Activities for Kids During Your Camping Trip
When you decide to take your kids on a camping trip, planning involves the most picturesque and resourceful campsite as well as stocking up on essential supplies.
But, there’s one event that many first-time camping parents fail to plan for. The dreaded “bored children.” You might have a challenge on your hands if your kids are screen junkies because chances are, there is no WI-FI or battery charging points where you’re going!
I recommend planning a few fun camping activities for the kids to do both during the day as well as the evening. It's important to research activities that will be fun and age-appropriate for all the kids on your trip. Plan extra activities to make sure your kids will have something to do the entire time you’re outdoors.
Aside from the usual swimming, ball games and ghost stories you can also consider a few fun science activities. Let’s look at a few interesting and fun science ideas.
Mixing Your Own Marshmallows
When you’re camping with kids, nothing says fun quite like marshmallows. Whether you’re roasting them or making s’mores marshmallows can provide hours of fun and tasty entertainment.
Roasting marshmallows over an open fire can be a whole lot of fun for older children. For smaller children, you might consider making your own marshmallow mix as entertainment. This is a great way to include smaller toddlers in the activities to create teamwork. The little ones can help with putting the easy and light ingredients into the mixing bowl so they feel valued.
You can use mixing marshmallows as a fun way to teach the kids about the chemistry of mixing gelatin, sugar, and corn syrup. Allowing the older kids to cook the marshmallows over the fire will teach them about temperatures that transform the ingredients into tasty marshmallow squares.
Toddlers can help by adding some chocolate blocks or sprinkles to the mix. Always make sure they don’t touch the hot container. You can also let the kids make some marshmallows for the road home.
Alternatively, you and the kids can make some marshmallows before the trip as well. That way they can compare making it on the stove to a much simpler way of making them on an open fire.
What you’ll need: Pot with handle, cloth to hold the handle, ingredients, skewer sticks, paper plates.
Determining Which Type of Wood Burns Slower
Part of the allure of camping with kids is sitting around the campfire. You can tell stories, roast a couple of hot dogs and just enjoy the night air. A fun science activity to keep the kids entertained is to determine which wood burns slower.
Here’s what you can do to make this fun for the kids.
- Research the required materials or conditions needed to sustain a good campfire.
- The kids then need to gather different types of wood of equal size from around the campsite.
- Using the knowledge they have, the young campers will have to determine which wood burns slower.
- Create a bed of charcoal briquets to place the wood samples on to allow for an even burn.
- You can encourage them to weigh the samples and use a timer to determine the burn time of each type of wood.
What you’ll need: small scale to weigh wood, notepad to make notes, pencil
Stargazing with a Telescope
Stargazing is commonly known as one of the greatest perks of an exciting camping trip. Camping usually takes place considerably far away from the city, which means you’re exposed to clear pollution-free skies.
That makes for the perfect setting for exploring the heavens and teaching your kids all about the galaxy. With a bit of luck, you’ll even see a meteor shower. A tip here would be to invest in an informative book on the subject so that the kids can look up any unusual anomalies as they happen.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking your telescope to a camping site, the kids can still view the stars by lying on a blanket and counting stars, looking at different light strengths and watching for meteor showers. You may also try to use binoculars.
If the kids are going to count stars, encourage them to count the stars the night before they leave home. And then compare it to the number of stars in the sky on the first night out camping. That will show them the difference that city pollution makes to the stars you can see!
What you’ll need: Small telescope, book on stars, notebook for notes
Looking at Rock Formations
Teaching children about the different rock formations can be a fun and interactive way to pass the time during the day. You can focus on different types, sizes and cycles of rocks. Once again, a book will come in handy.
Encourage the kids to collect different rocks and then make miniature formations similar to the ones that are in the book or around the campsite. Show them how to identify each type of rock according to the information in the book.
This is an activity that the toddlers can be involved in as well. They can assist in collecting little rocks around the site. Older children can search the book for similarities and identifications. Everyone can assist in creating the rock formations.
Another aspect of this game involves getting the kids to draw the rock formations they’ve created. Keep these drawings and create a scrapbook for the rock formations they see around different campsites.
What you’ll need: Rock identification book, sketch pad, pencils
How to Use Solar Energy to Cook and Heat Water
Another fun activity to do when you take your kids camping is to teach them some fire-starting skills. In addition to this, you can teach them how to make solar energy using garbage bags during the hottest part of the day.
- Place a garbage bag over a container of water.
- Place this in an area where the sun shines brightly. So, not under a tree or in the shade.
- Let the kids check on the container throughout the day to see how the water is heating up.
What you’ll need: A few garbage bags, a pot for water
Why You Need the Best Baby Monitor on Camping Trips
Here are a few ideas why packing baby monitors in your camping bag is a good idea:
- Quality baby or video monitors allow you to check on your children without opening their tent and risk waking them.
- If your child needs something they can simply ask you using the monitor. This will prevent them from going out of their tent and risk being lost or hurt in the dark.
- You’ll be able to hear your little one the minute they start crying or fussing without them waking everyone else in the group.
- Using a baby monitor with a light is useful because the light can serve as a night light for children who are not comfortable sleeping in the dark.
Camping with children can be an unforgettable experience. If you do it right, it might become an activity that you and your kids could do regularly. Not only is it healthy to spend some time outdoors, but it’s a wonderful break from screens, devices, and homework.
It’s important to choose the right site, pack the essentials and plan a few fun science activities to keep the kids entertained. Encourage team activities that include everyone. Divide the chores and teach children the fundamentals of camping and remember to have fun!