7 Tips to Make Your Own Camping Dramatic Play
Pre-k Let’s Play has created a camping dramatic play theme for preschoolers. This Dramatic play theme is a great place for your students to use their imagination.
Kids love to play outdoors. So bring that environment and imagination into the classroom. You can do this by transforming your dramatic play center into a pretend campsite. Watch your students use their imagination to explore nature. They will enjoy pretending to be campers.
This download offers tons of resources and activities for your students to practice. Keep reading as I share with you 7 tips that you need to create a camping dramatic play site in your classroom.
1. Materials and props
Props are definitely needed for your dramatic play center. They allow your students to use their imagination. Props can also make your dramatic play area feel like the great outdoors.
For this Dramatic play theme, feel free to put stuffed animals all around your pretend play area. Your students can use these stuffed animals can as pretend woodland animals. Try to use as many stuffed woodland animals as possible. As a result, your dramatic play campsite will feel way more realistic. Some examples of stuffed animals include bears, squirrels, raccoons, turtles, and many more.
I was also able to find and use real-life materials that people like to use when camping. Many students were familiar with some of these items and their uses. However, there were also other camping items that they weren’t used to seeing. For instance a compass, Binoculars, magnifying glasses, and flashlights. These are a few examples of props that you can add to your camping dramatic play theme.
You can also make your own props. For this theme, I created pretend bug spray from empty shaving cream cans. I also created cameras from blocks. Your students will love ideas like these for pretend play.
You can find many props like these for your pretend camping site. This download offers a list of props and materials for you to find and create at your local dollar tree store.
Lastly, place medical props in your dramatic play. That is a great way to get your students to practice and talk about safety while camping or hiking. Try mixing pretend medical props with real medical materials. For example, band-aids, cotton balls, and gauze pads are great for pretend play. Your students will love using these props on themselves. To heal their boo-boos. To stop mosquito bites. Even check their temperature. Overall, props are so much fun to play with.
2. Camping Dramatic Play Decor
Classroom decor plays a key role in your dramatic play area. The goal is to make your area look like the woods and feel like camping. Doing this helps your students become interested in playing the role of campers.
Looking for some great ideas for pretend play decor? Try placing items like props, books, drawings, and pictures of woodland animals everywhere. All around your dramatic play. Of course!
To get that woodland look, I decided to add a fake Christmas tree in the dramatic play area. Bringing a tree into the classroom will definitely catch your students’ attention. They will be so curious and excited to enter this dramatic play area once they see the tree.
Another way to make your pretend play area look like the woods is to use your classroom furniture as a decor prop. For example, the picture below shows how I decided to cover up an entire back shelf with white poster paper. Then I provided markers. After that, I encouraged my students to draw a detailed map of the woods on the large poster paper. They loved the idea. In fact, every student had something to add to the map. Some ideas include trees, trails, animals, water, etc.
Here’s another view of this map.
Another useful idea is to include a campfire section. This helps make your dramatic play area look and feel like camping. For sure. In this area, you can add a few tree logs and some rocks. My students and I were able to find some outside. Also included in the download is a flame picture for you to cut out and place in the middle of your campfire. I taped my flame onto a cone marker.
Another way to add decor is by using a bulletin board. The purpose of the bulletin board is to highlight the dramatic play theme. You can use this board to display camping related crafts. In my classroom, we displayed a map hand-drawn by my students of the woodlands. I also created and included letters that represented a woodland environment. You can find these letters in this camping dramatic play resource theme too. This display board lets students know that this area is a place for outdoor camping.
3. Dramatic play camping signs
Signs are great to have and show in your camping dramatic play area. Placing camping signs can make your students feel like they are in a camping environment.
Signs also help kids understand the value of print. It will help them understand that signs/words have meaning. Once they learn this, then this will lead your students to follow the instructions of these signs.
I always like to set up signs like open and close in this pretend play center. This helps students learn when it’s time to play in this area. That is the perfect way to help start developing discipline and routine while young. It will also help them get used to seeing and reading these kinds of sight words.
Also, place common signs that you would see in real life camping sites. Signs like “don’t feed the bears”, directions to trails, and “no littering”, are great for dramatic play. Below is a picture of one of the signs that I used in my dramatic play area. You can find this sign as well as many others in this camping dramatic play theme too.
4. Camping Dramatic Play Labels
Labels are great to use in your classroom. Placing labels throughout your dramatic play can help bring out your camping area. Labels have many purposes for your classroom. Because of this, they are helpful for your children in so many ways.
Labels help students learn new words. Each label in this resource comes with the word along with its picture. This is a great way for your students to make the connection as well as recognize the letters and words. This also helps them understand the purpose and importance of reading words. So feel free to place labels under many camping items.
Additionally, labels help students understand what things are. They give students the chance to ask and learn what these camping items and props are. These questions lead to conversations. For that reason, these conversations help them understand the use of these items or props.
Labels also help remind students where to place items. After they finish using the pretend prop, students use the labels as a guide. To help them find or remember where the item was last placed.
This is great because these labels help kids keep your Dramatic play clean. It also helps them build a cleaning routine. As a result, you don’t need to be there too much to remind them to keep the area organized. That job is for the labels. As a teacher, this saves you time to focus on other things.
5. Role play
Acting is always seen in dramatic play. Kids enjoy it. This is because acting gives them a chance to pretend to be anything they want. So including role-play into your camping dramatic play area is a great idea.
For this theme, your students can imagine being characters. They can be campers, hikers, park ranger, or even woodland animals. Included in this download are role-play cards. Generally, these cards work as necklaces. Your students will enjoy wearing these necklaces. It will help them get more into character and pretend to be camping in the woods.
Here is an example of one of my students playing the role of campers. He is pretending to hike into a bear cave.
Another benefit of role play is for students to play together. Playing together encourages your students to communicate with each other. This results in your students practicing their language and building communication skills. This builds friendships and develops their social skills as well.
6. Camping Dramatic Play Printouts
Printouts are great resources to have and use in your pretend play camping area too. They encourage your students to write and be creative. For this dramatic play theme, I created camping lists. Your students can use these printable forms to write down specific camping items. As a matter of fact, they can also use that list as a reference to place those same items into their camping bags. These forms come in a tracing edition too.
These printables are also great to use while they role-play as campers. Your students will love to show their list writings to their friends. Especially as they explain what they need for their next camping adventure.
I also created printouts for your students to do a pretend scavenger hunt. They can use the printables and binoculars to find certain stuffed animals. Such as the ones that they would notice in the woodlands. Once they find anything that looks the same on the list, then they can color or check the animal off their list.
In addition, these printouts give students a chance to practice writing. This is a fun way to help improve their fine motor skills. Feel free to put writing materials and printouts throughout your dramatic play. Your students will have so much fun writing and using their imagination.
7. Download this TpT product
You now know how to turn your dramatic play into a camping area. You have the 7 key tips. Sometimes these tips can take a long time to make on your own. I want to make this process easier for you. So I made a camping dramatic play themed resource. All you have to do is download this resource at my teachers pay teachers store.
This resource has 155 pages of printables, labels, signs, images to refer to, and a lot more to choose from. Ready and made for you. Download, print, and prep. That’s it. It’s that simple! Your students will love this theme and have so much fun learning through play.
So there you have it! 7 tips to create your own pretend play camping area. Enjoy and don’t forget to download this dramatic play themed resource. You can find it from my teachers pay teachers store. Have fun!!!