Summer Learning – Camping

I used to love to camp, but admittedly it isn’t something we’ve done since having children. I am more than a bit overwhelmed at the thought of camping with littles. Overcoming that fear is for another day! Today we are talking about bringing the camping to us. My oldest has been begging to go camping for years and since we haven’t we like to set up our tent either in the backyard or even in our living room. Since it is a bit hot here in AZ at the moment we decided to have our campout inside!

Pretend Play:

I wish I had gotten some pictures of this but it was a busy morning! I put up our small pop up tent in the living room which was a huge hit with all the kids (ranging from 18 months to 5 years old). For the older kids they had some fun pretending to roast marshmallows. I made a campfire out of paper towel rolls and red, orange and yellow tissue paper. I had M go find 3 sticks and added cotton balls to the end with hot glue so they could roast marshmallows.


We had three books to read but attention spans weren’t there today so we read two of the three: Maisy Goes Camping and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I love to see what kiddos think of books and am ever impressed with the observations they have. Reading to children is the most important thing we could ever do for their education (in my opinion).

Maisy Goes Camping

















Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping








































Fine Motor and Learning:


IMG_5860 IMG_5860 IMG_5860 IMG_5860 IMG_5860 IMG_5881 IMG_5876 IMG_5852 IMG_5852 IMG_5858















I found some adorable free camping printables (source listed below). I only used a couple of them but there are a variety of options for whatever you may want to focus on. For our kiddos we focused on the following:

  • fine motor skills with some cutting practice
  • beginning letter sounds for camping vocabulary
  • spotting the differences in a line of animals.

Printable Source




After reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt we were pumped to make a Bear Hunt Map! I had a different craft planned but couldn’t help but switch at the last minute.  These are so darn cute. I asked M what her favorite part of the playdate was and she emphatically told me it was the Bear Hunt. Once they made their maps we quickly added some stickers to “binoculars”. At that point we headed out for our Bear Hunt! It was so fun going through each area slowly and then running back quickly. The best part was how much energy they burned while on their Bear Hunt.

Camping Treats:
















We really couldn’t have this playdate without including some appropriate treats for the occasion. I started with an interactive campfire treat that they built out of raisins (the rocks around the fire), pretzel sticks (for the wood) and buttered popcorn (the fire!). I had seen a bunch of these types of snacks on Pinterest but most of them were super sugary treats. Since I knew I also wanted to include a s’mores treat I opted to find some healthier options. Then at the end we enjoyed s’mores pudding cups that I made ahead of time.

I hope that if you can’t get out to go camping in nature that you can enjoy a camping setup right at home! These ideas can be whipped up in no time and make for a lot of fun pretend play.



Summer Learning – The Gruffalo

This Gruffalo playdate was so much fun! My dear friend who planned this did a phenomenal job. She is all about sensory play and didn’t disappoint. I have loved having a few structured activities this summer for my little ones. It’s amazing how much changes when we don’t have the structure of school. When we have planned activities these little people respond with better behavior. We love summer (except for the hot AZ heat) but a tiny bit of structure is imperative!


We started off by reading The Gruffalo since not all of the kiddos had heard it.


Gruffalo Sensory:

She created this really fun sensory box that had all of the elements of “The Gruffalo” that was a huge hit with the younger kids but even the older children enjoyed it for a bit.



Idea Source

The older kids also really enjoyed playing with the kits that were made to be the Owl Ice Cream, Scrambled Snake and Roasted Fox. The Owl Ice Cream was really fun because it was white playdough and she used feathers and googly eyes for them to add to it in order to make the “Owl Ice Cream”. Because it is open-ended this got a lot of play time.


IMG_5614Idea Source

Fine Motor:

She found a really cute idea on Pinterest to clip the purple spikes on the Gruffalo for fine motor practice. She didn’t see anywhere that offered it as a download so she used a picture of a Gruffalo, cut the spikes off and made her own purple spikes out of cardstock and paper clips. This is a great fine motor skill disguised as just another playtime activity! I love it when they have so much fun that they don’t even realize they are doing something good for them.




 Imaginative Play:

The kids didn’t have a chance to play with this but she also found really cute Gruffalo Story telling mats. This is the kind of thing that is great for a quiet time activity if anyone needs it! We love using story telling mats because it gives those little minds an opportunity to get creative. It is also great because they learn about putting things in the right order (beginning, middle and end).


Printables used

Get Active:

We like to get them up and around once their little attention spans are stalled. This was a great activity to do in between to get them active both mentally and physically. They each had sheets where she had put printed pictures of the characters from the book, then they had to find the same matching pictures taped to the wall. This might have been the favorite activity of the day because they had a goal to find their matching pictures. Of course they got a little competitive but they even had fun helping their friends find their matches as well.

































Idea and Printable Source


To represent The Gruffalo Crumble talked about in the book she made muddy buddies! It’s always great to end with a treat in my humble opionion. The kids didn’t mind either 😉 While we ate the delicious Gruffalo Crumble we watched the movie of The Gruffalo. Everyone was so wound up with excitement that this was a great way to end the playdate and calm down a little before we left. If you haven’t watched it yet you should. It’s great because it is a retelling of the story but slowly and with great animation. It kept everyones attention the entire time.



She sent us home with some really cute finger puppets that I forgot to photograph but listed the source below.

Idea Source

Feel free to use these ideas to put together a fun playdate with your friends or just your little ones!  This would be great to do on any school break really. You could do it on Fall break and add some fun dress up too! Think how cute it would be to dress up as a Gruffalo. Or even the mouse, snake, owl or fox! There’s really a lot that can be done with this theme.



Summer Learning – Ocean Playdate

Our second learning playdate this summer was hosted by a good friend. Her son has been very into the ocean so she decided to go all out with the ocean playdate theme this time around. There’s something about a good theme that really gets me excited! She did a phenomenal job putting it all together and the kiddos had a blast. We had so much fun at this ocean playdate! We enjoyed sensory play, lots of arts and crafts, a little math and topped it off with some yummy ocean snacks!


As people started arriving we had ocean slime to play with. The kiddos enjoyed squishing, stamping and stretching the slime. There were even little gummy ocean animals to play with along side the slime.











































There were two math activities, one was a graphing sheet and the other was ocean animal tangrams! These littles are just started to become interested in math so it’s fun to see them light up when we connect the dots.






















 Graph Printable Source



There were THREE craft projects that we did as well. Crafts are always a winner with these kiddos. The first craft we started out with a piece of aluminum foil for each kids’ canvas. They placed ocean themed stickers down and then painted blue over it for the ocean. The second was a neat dancing jelly fish where they got to do a lot of gluing and then enjoyed making their jelly fish dance in the ocean! The third craft was creating sea creatures from a neat set of stickers. This might have been the favorite.











































Sea Life Sticker Source


Peanut Butter and Jellyfish By: Jarrett J Krosoczka























Fish Eyes: A book you can count on By: Lois Ehlert

Fish Eyes















An ocean playdate wouldn’t be complete without a few snacks! We enjoyed little bags of goldfish as well as ocean jello! Look how cute it turned out!

Ocean Jello
























I hope that you get a chance to have an ocean playdate as well, it was so much fun! Hopefully the next playdate will better represented with pics from my new camera!


Summer Learning – Ice Cream Playdate

We really enjoyed this ice cream playdate which included the following ice cream goodness:

  • ice cream play dough
  • an ice cream craft
  • ice cream rhyming
  • ice cream reading
  • homemade ice cream!

I believe in learning through play and figured an ice cream playdate would make a great start to our summer! Myself and a few of my friends decided that we wanted to have some fun with our Pre-school and Kindergarten age children this summer. We settled on a lot of  just for fun activities on our summer bucket list but we also wanted to include some learning. At this age I believe in learning that is mostly fun and learning through play.

A lot of the reason I chose this theme is because my eldest has been obsessed with ice cream. Ice cream clothes, pajamas and earrings to name a few! We recently switched an old piece of furniture from a puppet theatre into an Ice Cream Parlor. I found some cute cones at Lakeshore Learning, used ball pit balls for ice cream and added a few DIY’s to round things out.  We also snagged a cute sign from the Target dollar spot and added our own “flavors”. This was great pretend play in between activities while I was setting up for the next. Once I finish up a couple of details I will share the Ice Cream Parlor in all of it’s pretend play glory.

For our playdate I focused on a few fun activities to get our summer started off right!

Ice Cream Play dough:























You really can’t beat a good sensory activity. This play dough is really neat because it actually feels (minus the cold) and looks like ice cream! It is definitely  “edible” but unless you want your child hyped up on frosting and powdered sugar tell them not to eat it ;-).












































Rhyming Activity:

This was a really fun activity that we were able to work on scissor skills as well as rhyming words! I found it on Teachers Pay Teachers, which if you haven’t heard of is stellar! This was an ice cream playdate win for sure.

Rhyming activity






































For my daughter this was probably one of her favorite parts because she loves anything to do with arts and crafts. This was a super simple option that still allowed for some creativity with the “toppings”. To keep things quick I cut out the cones and let each kid glue that to the page and then I had a bowl of “ice cream” (a mixture of glue and shaving cream) ready for them to scoop on top and then they added sprinkles.













































We read “Should I Share My Ice Cream” By: Mo Willems which they thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards we talked about what it means to be a good friend and how sharing is integral to that.

Should I Share my Ice Cream?



















Last but not least we couldn’t have an ice cream playdate without making homemade ice cream! We found a simple vanilla ice cream recipe in our ice cream maker.
























We went through the activities pretty easily and I even took a bunch of pictures with my new DSLR! Unfortunately… I’m still learning what the heck I’m doing because I used a memory card that wasn’t appropriately formatted and I lost all of those adorable pics. Super sad panda. Great example of how I TRY to DIY… and it doesn’t always work out. I hope this helps you organize a fun Ice Cream Playdate with all of the fun ideas compiled!