Normal life with a 3-year-old can be challenging, let alone taking one camping. Since you’re outside of your normal routine and the comfort the kids get at home at the campsites, you will need to engage your toddler in some games or activities.
Knowing the best way to entertain your 3-year-old on your camping trip might be tricky, but fortunately, we will give you some good ideas to keep in your back pocket.
There are many ways to entertain a 3-year while camping, including rock hunting and painting, bubble chasing, and dancing in the rain, among other simple but fun activities. You can also change mundane tasks into fun games. All these activities will keep your toddler involved and entertained.
Have you missed some camping adventure and fun because you have a toddler in tow?
We have a list of unique activities to ensure your 3-year-old stays entertained as you enjoy your camping trip. The best part of these activities is that the kid can do most of them on their own.
1. Blow bubbles
Playing with bubbles is a great favorite for most toddlers. You can choose the old-fashioned type of bubbles, or buy a machine that makes them.
If you buy a machine, the little one won’t have to blow the bubbles (and neither will you), and they will have tons of fun chasing them around the camping site. This will give you an excellent time to enjoy yourself.
2. Decorate Leaves
Most camping sites are surrounded by foliage, and you can use tree leaves to keep your 3-year-old entertained for hours. Collect all types, shapes, colors, and sizes of leaves and allow the toddler to draw designs on them.
To add creativity to the decorated leaves, allow them to sprinkle some glitters on them and attach their artwork using tape onto a cardboard sheet. You can place it inside the tent as a centerpiece.
Additionally, they can gently place a white paper on different types of leaves and rub a crayon over them.
Or another fun creative activity to try with leaves is to have your toddler create pictures on the ground using leaves, sticks, rocks, etc. Take pictures of the designs from above and show them the artwork they’ve created!
Get involved and make your own artwork and see how delighted they are to bond over your shared activity.
3. Rock Painting
Toddlers love to paint almost as much as they love bubbles. This is another incredible activity that will keep your kid occupied while you are camping.
Camping sites generally have plenty of rocks around, and therefore you should encourage the young ones to collect the uniquely shaped or pretty rocks.
Once they gather enough rocks, let them be creative by painting them with acrylic paint.
The best part of doing a rock painting project like this while camping is that you don’t have to worry so much about the clean-up or keeping the paint from spilling. Your toddler will enjoy that freedom as well!
Once they are done, display their art outside, where you enjoy the campfire.
4. Nature Center
Many camping sites feature a nature center with a particular spot for kids. Most of these centers have people who can educate your kids about nature and help them interact with animals according to their age.
The nature center attendants can also teach them to create crafts using natural materials.
If this is a feature of your campground, make sure to take advantage of the fun to be had for your little one there.
5. Bucket Water Splashing
Most kids love playing with water, although you have to be cautious when water play is involved as a parent. As you pack for camping, carry a water bucket, and once you get to the site, fill it with water and allow the young one to scoop water from it and spill it around.
For their safety, you can put some rocks under the bucket so that they don’t tip over it while playing. Also, make sure to monitor closely so that they don’t submerge their head in the bucket.
6. Make Rock Sculptures
You might have seen a rock sculpture somewhere along the road or beside a water body. You can show your three-year-old how to make their rock sculpture at the camping site.
Allow them to collect many beach rocks or river stones of different sizes in a bucket. Then identify a clearing where they can arrange the rocks and balance them by placing the largest ones at the bottom.
To prevent the rocks from falling on their toes, ensure they have shoes on during this activity.
7. Bean Bag Tossing
Bean bag tossing is another excellent way of keeping your toddler entertained and busy. Using old clothes, you can make a DIY bean bag and fill them up with beans.
After that, take some white paper and paint numbers 1-10 on them. Lay the papers in numerical order on the ground and have your kid toss the bag on the numbers.
They will have lots of fun and give you time to enjoy the breeze beside the beach.
The added bonus here is practice for your preschooler in number identification and hand-eye coordination.
8. Scavenger Hunt
This is another incredible camping game that will leave your 3-year-old happy that you came with them for camping. The game is not limited to anyone, and therefore you can also be part of it and have fun together.
Scavenger hunting is about searching for objects in the natural environment. Start by printing a list of the objects the kids will be searching for and have them glued on a cardboard sheet.
Some of the things you can encourage them to search for include small and large leaves, a flying bird, ants, twigs, and birds’ feathers.
Even though the toddler can do the hunting alone, it is wise to watch over them, so they don’t wander off while hunting.
9. Alone Time Play
When camping, you don’t have to plan activities all the time. You can create some time and allow the toddler to have his or her alone time.
Kids don’t always like being instructed, and since you are far from home set up where they are monitored every minute, it’s fair to let them sit and play on their own with the toys they brought along.
This will not only be fun but will help them become more independent.
10. Make Tree Bark Rubbings
Rubbing on tree bark is a fun activity that will leave your 3-year-old anticipating the next camping trip. Since the trees are available at the campsite, all you need in your backpack is some crayons, tape, and a large piece of writing paper.
Tape the paper to the tree, and guide your kid on how to color it using different colors. As they color, the patterns on the tree barks will appear on the paper, and you can remove and keep the papers for your kid’s camping memories.
11. Singing Around The Campfire
Camping can never be complete without a campfire, and singing in the flickering light is always magical. And since there is nothing much you can do at night, the idea of singing around the fire won’t be a bad one.
Little kids love singing, and they will like it more when doing it at a place far from home. Ensure you sing your kid’s favorite songs and end the day memorably.
12. Dancing In The Rain
You can’t predict the weather when camping since it can change anytime. If it rains, enjoy it by entertaining your toddler by allowing them to dance in the rain.
You can also pack some plastic fish and boats and let the young ones roll them in the rainwater.
Another activity they will love if rainwater flows down the campsite is making dams using twigs and rocks. Seeing the water piling up to form a pool will take all the attention of your kids.
They can also do some puddle jumping or walk around the site in rain boots and take home some lasting memories.
13. Board Games
Bring along one or two board games to play with your kids at night. Choose board games that are sturdy enough to stand up to the outdoor conditions and little toddler fingers.
Also, choose games that will keep them busy until it’s time to sleep.
14. Chalk Creativity
You can never go wrong with chalk while camping with kids since it’s always a winner for them. They can use chalk to draw pictures or practice letter writing, mainly on the rocks.
However, remember to wipe the drawings using some water before leaving the camping site. A colored rock might appear rude to the next visitor in the camp.
15. Riding Toys
Being on a camping site doesn’t mean you can’t bring along the comfort of your home. Do this for your 3-year-old by bringing along some of their favorite riding toys.
They are perfect for keeping your toddler busy when engaging in some outdoor activities.
Sometimes toddlers have a problem sleeping in a different place from home. One of the best tricks to help them sleep is allowing them to take part in sports activities that will get them to run and be as active as possible.
You can try frisbees or balls and watch them have the best moments during the camping period.
17. Balloon Games
Most kids have a soft spot for balloons and carrying them while camping is another great idea. Blow up the balloons, let the kid sit on them, and see how long it takes them to burst.
You can also allow them to hit the balloons against each other and see how far they can fly.
Or try water balloons. These are fun for throwing and catching and a great way to cool off if it’s hot.
Whatever activities you do with the balloons, just make sure to pick up any fragments from the ground. You can even make this a treasure hunt for your toddler, to find every last piece of balloon.
18. Name Puzzle
A 3-year-old can identify the letters that make their name. Start by writing the baby’s name in capital letters on paper. Then write the letters on another piece of paper to cut out each letter using scissors and let the child match the letters with the ones on the paper.
You can also make puzzles for different words and see them match them.
19. Take A Walk
A walk is another way of entertaining your child and getting them some exercise. Allow them to look for sticks to use for lighting the campfire.
Another idea would be to list birds that you spot as you walk. You can also make another sheet with a list of animals and check the ones you find as you walk.
Children love colors, and they can spend hours coloring books. Print out some coloring books of their favorite cartoon characters and books, or buy some new coloring books and crayons just for the camping trip.