Camp Out Classroom Transformation

Monday, April 22, 2019

Each year on Take Your Child to Work Day, I try to have a classroom transformation for the students who come to school. Camp Cahill is all set for their arrival. I set up a tent with a campfire, a pond for fishing, some sleeping bags and activities related to camping for the entire day. My flexible seating also comes in handy for this special transformation.

Since I am a "Cub Scout mom" I have a lot of camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, skewers, etc. so it's easy for me to dig it all out for this transformation. You can purchase these items on but if you wait until winter, they tend to go on sale. You can also ask your friends and family to borrow these items. Here are some of the pricier items I've invested in for this transformation and reuse every year; the backdrop, the light up fire pit, the turf carpet, the inflatable pool and the magnetic fishing poles. All can be found on, but if you shop around you can find them discounted at other places.

I like to start off the day sitting around the campfire discussing the essentials we might need for camping. I jot down what tends to be, a lengthy list on chart paper and then the students can only choose eight items from our list to take with them. They need to write them on their recording sheet and give me a good reason why they chose that specific item.

Next, the children use a store circular to create a shopping list of food they will need for two days of camping. The children have a budget of $20.00 per day and they MUST have at least three meals per day and three snacks. It is always fun to see what they come up with since they do not typically do the grocery shopping.

For writing, I have the children complete a "how to" make S'mores craft. Before they begin, we talk about different ways to make these tasty snacks. The students decide which way they like best, fill out their graphic organizer and finalize their craftivity. I get these jumbo wooden skewers from Christmas Tree Shoppe. They are usually $1.99 for a dozen.

Since my class and I talk a lot about keeping the Earth clean, I like to do a fishing activity in the "pond." I have my students go fishing in the inflatable pool for animals and trash. First, they pull out a fish or trash with a magnetic fishing pole. On the back is a card telling a positive or a negative about what they took out of the pond. The class keeps tallies on their tally chart of how many negatives vs. positives they found as a group. After each child gets a turn to fish, they count their tallies and graph.

For STEM, I begin with a partner share about boats. The children discuss all they know about boats, what they are used for, how they work, what makes them special, etc. Then each child gets a 5" x 5" piece of foil to build a boat that can hold as many pennies as possible when placed onto a tray of water. The children fill out part of their recording sheet before they test their boat. After the boats are tested with the pennies, they fill out the rest, reflecting on what worked well and what they can improve for next time.

When I teach, I like to be sure there are some sort of brain breaks during the day. I love adding crafts as a relaxing brain break. For this camping transformation my colleague had a great idea to make firefly lanterns. I knew it would be PERFECT for this transformation. My Camp Out Classroom Transformation resource in my TPT store gives directions on all the materials and how to build these cute little glow lanterns. 

By the time I have my classroom camp out, my students have written a few personal narratives or fictional writing pieces, so I like to give them a chance to share. Since we rarely have time for each child to share to the whole class, I break my students up into small groups and let them share within their group. Then if I have time, I will rotate some children so the groups get a good shake up. To give the kids a bit of a camping ambiance, I turn off the lights and let them use flashlights to read to their friends as if we were telling stories by the campfire.

My final activity for the day is to set the mood by playing sounds of the nighttime forest and have the children relax while reading a book with a flashlight. It's such a simple activity, but they LOVE it! If you get the chance to have a camp out classroom transformation, please tag me in your posts or email me. I'd love to see how it turns out. If you'd like to grab my Camp Out Classroom Transformation resource it will give you step by step directions on what I do in my room. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Camping!

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