There’s plenty to do on a camping trip, from sing-along songs and campfire cooking to walking through woods and jumping in a lake. Sometimes you need a little quiet time for adults, though, back at the campsite, or something to do indoors should a storm roll through. These camping crafts not only keep little ones busy, but they also encourage discovery about the great outdoors. Even better, they can be used to turn a backyard camp-out into a fun adventure!
1. Pine Cone Bird Feeder
Usually, there’s a leave no trace behind philosophy with camping, but not so with this craft. The National Wildlife Federation offers this DIY idea to make a natural bird feeder for feathered friends. Using a pine cone found in nature, coat the pine cone with peanut butter, cornmeal, birdseed and other bird-friendly nutritious supplements. Leave it in a tree for a tasty treat for wildlife.
2. Toilet Paper Tube Mock Campfire
Get the kids excited about an upcoming camping trip by building a mock campfire out of toilet paper tubes and orange and red tissue paper. Use this tutorial from DLTK’s Crafts for Kids that shows how to make toilet paper tube logs and fake flames with tissue paper on a paper plate base. This is a fabulous indoors activity, too, should rain dampen your plans for a fire while camping out.
3. Nature Bracelet
There’s so much beauty in nature. Let kids roam the outdoors and choose items that they enjoy while crafting this unique bracelet. It just takes a piece of masking tape. Wrap the tape loosely around a wrist, with the sticky side facing out. Then collect bits of leaves, bark, grass, seeds, and other natural elements and attach to the tape. Be sure not remind children not to uproot or damage any living plants.
4. Paper Bag Kite
Go fly a kite with this brown paper bag kite crafting idea. Instead of recycling a paper bag, bring it along, attach streamers and let the kids run free while trying to keep their kite airborne.
5. TP Tube Binoculars
Toilet paper tubes can be crafted into birding binoculars with just a few pieces of tape or string. Attach the rolls side by side, and children can start searching for wildlife in the woods.
6. Leaf Impressions
Bring along light-sensitive paper (found in craft stores or ordered online) and use solar power to make leaf impressions worthy of framing when you come back home. It’s a great teaching opportunity about the heat and energy of the sun, too. Alternatively, bring plaster of Paris and some discarded pie tins to make imprints of natural items like leaves, shells, bark, and pine cones.
7. Tree-Branch Tapestry
A branch found in nature, combined with a skein of yarn, can become a tapestry with this DIY tutorial from Parents magazine.
8. Beaded Sticks
Collect fallen twigs and decorate the branches with beads, yarn, found feathers, and leaves. Fairy wand, wizard wand, or work of art? Your child gets to choose!
Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that can inspire hours of play. Twigs found at the campsite can be transformed into characters from a child’s imagination with brightly colored paints, bits of yarn and ribbon, wiggly eyes, and markers. Children can use pebbles to mark out a doll-sized labyrinth, or collect fallen leaves to create a mobile. Once given a few suggestions, your kids may come up with their own ideas — just be sure they understand the importance of respecting nature, not harming habitats, and not killing or removing any living thing.
Now campers, get out there and enjoy Mother Nature.
Feature image courtesy of Kat Stan
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on May 28, 2015.