At the center of every great education is the love of learning. For early elementary students, this journey begins with the ability to read. How can you inspire a lifelong passion for reading? The answer is finding ways of making reading fun! One creative strategy is to transform reading into an adventure, and what better adventure is there, than going camping?
Let's talk about this fun, themed day at school, the Classroom Reading Campout Day! As a room mom, I couldn't wait to help plan this unique and exciting event that combines reading with the joy of camping.
Reading Campout Day is a celebration that mixes the joy of reading with a sense of adventure that only camping can provide! It is a unique opportunity for the kids to indulge in their favorite books while relaxing in a cozy campsite.
Setting the stage (Decorations)
After the students had gone home, the day before the reading campout, their teacher transformed her classroom into a magical campsite. She transformed the space with some fake trees (a few made of paper and a few Christmas trees without any Christmas lights), lanterns, sleeping bags, and a 6 person tent set up in the reading corner. The room felt like a cozy little campground and perfectly set the tone for the day.
Our teacher had let all the parents know in advance that each student could bring a favorite book from home, a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a flashlight. My daughter is rarely interested in her stuffed animals at home, but still gets so excited about the idea of taking one to school!
On Reading Campout Day, the kids' faces lit up with amazement as they entered the classroom. They knew instantly it would be an extra fun day, and their eyes were sparkling with excitement.
Reading Campout Stations
The morning started with a group chat about the joy of reading and how books can take you on an exciting adventure. The class discussed one of their favorite book series, the Magic Tree House Books, and how reading them always feels like they are transported to another time and place. Next, the class read, Curious George Goes Camping to get everyone in the camping spirit!
The kids split into small groups and rotated through each reading campout station. The four stations the kids could visit throughout the day were: Camping Bingo, Campfire Craft, Book Swap, and the Reading Tent.
Our teacher had requested I help plan a snack, a craft, and a game for the Reading Campout. For the game, I selected Bingo. I found these free printable Camping Bingo Cards from MommaLew.com. There was only a single card, which would have made traditional bingo (where you call out items and everyone marks off that item on their card) impossible.
The bingo cards were designed for you to do the things listed and mark them off as you go to get a Bingo. Since we needed the kids to remain in their stations, I realized these wouldn't work, but thought I would share them here if your students don't have to remain in their seats during a game of Bingo!
I started looking for Bingo cards, where every game card was different, and realized I could purchase this set of Camping Bingo cards on Amazon for less than the cost of ink and paper to print them myself! The set included some campfire markers, but you could also use marshmallows to mark off spaces on the Bingo Cards.
I found these adorable Scratch and Sniff Bookmarks and each child could select one after getting a BINGO on their card.
What is a camping trip, without a campfire? Obviously, for safety reasons, we couldn't have an actual fire in the school! Instead, we decided each child could make their own using craft supplies.
Red/Orange/Yellow Tissue Paper
Clear plastic 9 oz disposable cups
Sticks (found in my yard)
Brown Card Stock
Optional: Gallon-sized Ziplock bags
To help prep everything for Reading Campout Day and simplify things for our teacher, I created individual kits for each student. I put all the supplies inside a gallon-sized bag to make a single campfire craft (aside from glue and scissors, which we placed in the middle of the station for the kids to share).
Inside each bag was: 1/4 of a sheet of red tissue paper, 1/4 of a sheet of yellow tissue paper, 1/4 of a sheet of orange tissue paper, 1/3 of a sheet of brown card stock, 1 plastic cup, 1 flameless tea light, 1 stick, and 1 cotton ball.
To make their campfires, each student was instructed to cut or tear their tissue paper into small pieces and glue the tissue paper pieces all over the outside of the plastic cup.
Next, they should cut a couple of log shapes out of the brown cardstock. Finally, they would glue a cotton ball to the end of the stick.
To set up and play with their campfire, they would stack their paper logs on the bottom, turn on the tea light and place it on top of the logs, and cover the tea light with an upside-down cup (that was already covered in tissue paper). The cotton ball on the stick allowed the kids to pretend to roast marshmallows. Don't worry they would get actual marshmallows as part of their snack!
Another station was the "Book Swap." Each small group would gather on the rug and share the book they brought from home with their friends. If a child didn't bring a favorite book from home, they could select their favorite book they had read from the classroom library. They exchanged books, read them to themselves, and then chatted quietly, but excitedly about the ones they loved the most.
The reading tent was a haven for book lovers. The kids cuddled up with their chosen books (either from home or the class library), blankets, and flashlights. The 6 person tent was filled with pillows and sleeping bags so each child could get comfortable and read! Using a flashlight while flipping through a good book, just made it even more fun!
After all the students had visited each station, the class got together on the classroom rug. Each child had a chance to share their favorite moments and talk about their favorite book they read that day. The kids were all allowed to play with their campfire crafts and enjoy their special themed snack! I had made everyone a "Let's Read S'more" snack bag! You can find my free tutorial and links to free printable bag toppers in my Read S'more blog post.
As the day came to an end, the kids left with huge smiles on their faces, their bookmarks, and campfire crafts. This event wasn't just about reading; it was about igniting a spark for books and learning. It was a magical day that will hopefully stay with the kids for a long time to come! I can't wait to see what adventure awaits them on their reading journey next!
*I personally purchased every product that was used to make this costume and nothing was provided to me.
**I have included affiliate links to the products I used and can receive a small commission if a purchase is made after you click on a link in this tutorial.
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