While there are plenty of activities for children and adults on a camping trip, sometimes you need a little quiet time for the adults or something to do inside while a storm passes by. The following picnic crafts will keep your kids busy while helping them learn more about their natural surroundings.
Natural Art Crafts
If you arrive at your campsite and realize you forgot to bring your craft materials, there is no need to worry. You can find plenty of items in nature to use as craft supplies, and you may be pleasantly surprised by how creative your children can be with the supplies you find. Here are some ideas for natural crafts for camping.
Bird Feeders From Recyclables
Birds are easy to attract with these feeders. Take a plastic water bottle, put two sets of holes into it, 180° apart, at “waist” and “knee” height. Insert a plastic or wooden spoon through the holes so one side provides a perch for visiting birds, and the “spoon” side becomes a receptacle for birdseed. Fill the bottle with birdseed and seal; suspend from a tree.
Alternatively, use a toilet paper tube and some twigs about the size of pencils. Perforate one end of the toilet paper tube with two sets of holes about a 1/2″ apart, to create perpendicular perches. Smear the tube with peanut butter, roll it in a tray full of birdseed, carefully insert the twigs through the tube and you’re all set to attract small birds.
Leaf Art and Flora Creatures
We always carry Post-Its to cut out circles and draw in eyeballs, an easy way for toddlers to turn creations into creatures. Gather leaves of various sizes and colors, and sort similar ones into piles. Using just your imagination, can you create a two-dimensional landscape? What about a farmyard? Oval-shaped elm and birch leaves make good torsos for seated cats, birds and dogs. Look for pinecones, acorns and the fairy-wing-like seeds of birch trees and maples, and have sand or soil handy to stand up a 3D pinecone tribe.
Rock, Paper Scissors and Paint
Start with newsprint or old maps as canvas; add evergreen bough paintbrushes and a pasta box palette. Let kids choose three watercolors and experiment with thick and thin paint applications. When’s it dry, leave art out in the rain, pour water over it, or dip it into a river and see how it changes.
Paint five smooth river stones with “X” and five with “O” to create pieces for tic-tac-toe. Use a cereal box or a baking dish for the board.
Let a Garden Grow and Take Home a Tree
You’ll need an old tin can or leftover eggshells as a pot. Have kids fill them near the top with soil. At the base of a tree, look for moss or little clover seedlings to become a grass field, or a sprouted acorn that will grow into a mighty oak, as reminders of your trip.
DIY Nature Mandala
Your kids will have a blast as they look for different items to use to make their nature mandala. Have them find flowers, leaves and other natural decorations to make their masterpiece. Creating these mandalas will allow you to get outside with your children and help promote conversation as you ask them to talk about the objects they find and what they do in the environment.
Have your children collect leaves throughout your camping trip to make colorful flowers. This simple art project encourages your children to look at the landscape around them and use critical thinking as they make their one-of-a-kind creations.
Pack some paint and prepare to let your kid’s creativity run wild. Have your children paint your camping activities on stones you find around your campground or let them paint whatever sparks their interest. Each stone your child paints will tell a story and give your child a way to remember their camping trip long after you return home.
Nature Color Wheel
The nature color wheel is an excellent craft and learning opportunity for children of any age. During your camping trip, encourage your children to find items that correlate to every color on the color wheel. As they find elements to place on their wheel, ask your child where they found them and why they chose them to encourage greater conversation and appreciation for the natural landscape.
Pressed Flower Greeting Cards
Pressed flower greeting cards are an easy activity that allows your children to make a craft they can share with others. Bring a set of blank cards and have your children collect flowers they find around the campground.
Leave the flowers out to dry in the sun and once they are dry, paste them to the front of the greeting cards. Your children can bring their cards home or send them to friends to tell them about all the fun they are having on their camping trip.
One of the great things about a fairy house is that you can make it with any available materials. Send your children on a scavenger hunt to find sticks, leaves and other materials. After your children collect their materials, let their imagination run wild as they start to build. Place small items in the house for your children to find to bring a sense of enchantment to your camping trip.
Stick Leaf Butterflies
Create beautiful butterflies with materials your children find around the campground. Your children can use sticks, leaves and paint to create their butterflies. Have them place their creation around your campsite.
While eating s’mores is a camping essential, you can make this treat even sweeter by having your kids use the leftover marshmallows for crafts. Kids can use these puffs for building, molding and games. Some marshmallow kids’ crafts for camping include:
- Marshmallow Stamping: Skewer marshmallows on wooden sticks and dip into shallow bowls of craft paint. Use the paint-dipped marshmallows to stamp designs on paper.
- Marshmallow Tower: Divide kids into teams and give each team a bag of mini marshmallows and a pack of spaghetti noodles. Connect the spaghetti noodles with marshmallows “joints” to build structures. See who can build the tallest tower!
- Marshmallow Constellations: Use mini marshmallows connected together with toothpicks to create the shapes of constellations — Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt, etc.
- Candy Necklaces: Use a straw to punch a whole through a marshmallow and then string it on a length of thin licorice (licorice whips or laces). Use frosting to decorate the marshmallow with colorful sprinkles.
- Edible Art: Skewer marshmallows on wooden sticks and let kids decorate them with edible magic markers (available at craft stores). Draw animals, flowers, clowns, monsters, or let them go wild with freeform scribbles. Then let them eat their creations!
Plan a Trip for the Entire Family at KOA Today
As you plan your family vacation, it can be hard to find a campground that offers amenities for kids and adults so that everyone on your trip can have a great time. Luckily, at Kampgrounds of America, you will find activities for adults and children to make your next camping trip one of a kind. Find a KOA near you to book a campsite today!
About the Author: Kampgrounds of America
Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.