Indoor camping ideas for preschoolers

Do you need ideas for age-appropriate indoor camping activities for preschoolers? Get some indoor camping ideas in this guide to enjoy with your preschool child. You can also use this opportunity to teach the child about real camping. And also do a rehearsal of how real camping would look like as well. If you also have to organize indoor camping for other age groups, check indoor camping ideas for toddlers and indoor camping ideas for adults.

Make a tent

You can use a real camping tent if you have one. You can use this opportunity as well to test how the child would act during real camping. Inside of the tent, put mattresses, blankets and pillows and anything you would use during the real thing. 

You can also make your own DIY fake tent for indoor camping. Preschool children will enjoy making their own one. Here are some ideas on how to make a DIY tent from stuff you have at home.

Make camping meals

There are quite a lot of meals that you can make with your preschool children. Then, you can spread a blanket across the room floor and have a picnic similar to the one outdoors.

Next, you can decide on the food to make. This is a list of easy camping meals which your children can help you prepare:

  • Sandwiches. All kids can make sandwiches. Use sliced bread, ham and cheese from the store for convenience, and sauce like mayonnaise or ketchup. Add veggies like sliced tomato or salad leaves for a healthier version.
  • Dip strawberry and marshmallow into chocolate. Just get a pack of marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate for dip. Read about the full recipe here.
  • Cookies. Cookies are a great food for preschool children to prepare, even though they aren’t a typical camping food. The child can add ingredients into the mixing bowl to make a cookie dough. Later, they can shape the dough into various shapes like leaves, trees or use various molds. An idea for a recipe is this super easy 3-ingredient chocolate cookies recipe.
  • Make S’mores in the oven. There is no camping without s’mores. This is a really simple s’more recipe with minimal preparation and can be baked in the oven.

Create a special ambiance for the camping

Create a special ambiance for indoor camping by putting some effort into the setting. Put a cloth on the room floor and have a picnic. You can also add some folding chairs. This way you can eat a meal similar to real camping.

Dim the lights to create an illumination similar to camping around a campfire. Put Christmas lights or lamps to decorate a bit. Soft warm white/yellow glow is the most similar to campfire light, but any kind of illumination is great.

Play the sounds of nature in the background. Those can be the sounds of the forest, sounds of raindrops, cracking in the campfire, birds singing. Just go to Youtube and search for the type of the sounds (e.g.”rainfall sound”) you want to listen to. You can find videos that will play sounds for an hour and more.

If you have a fireplace, you can organize a campsite around it. But if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. You can also make a DIY campfire from cardboard and other stuff at home.

You can also check out this guide on choosing the best lights for indoor camping. This guide will help you pick the best lights that create ambiance for camping, but are also safe for children.

Do camping activities around campfire

The typical campfire activity is for everybody to gather around the campfire. You can use the real fire in the fireplace, or just gather around an arts-and-crafts fire made from cardboard. Or just gather around nothing.

You can also read and make up stories about animals in the woods while the only illumination are turned on flashlights. You can also make shadow animals on the wall using flashlights. Or read fairy tales since all children like fairy tales.

Use indoor camping as an educational opportunity

Use this opportunity to learn more about wildlife during camping. You can show your preschooler photos of animals in the encyclopedia. You can also put stuffed animals around the indoor campsite. Then, tell the child that there are real animals during outdoor camping too.

You could also teach your child about the dangers of fire. They should understand that the fire burns and that they should stay away from it. And that it’s important not to play around with matches and lighters, as they can cause fire.

Indoor camping activities for preschoolers

Here is an additional list of activities for preschoolers to incorporate into your indoor camping experience:

  1. Play card games like UNO.
  2. Play board games.
  3. Play dominoes.
  4. Go outdoors and play this nature drawing scavenger hunt. Children have to find and draw any object outdoors that matches clues like “something purple” or “something smooth”.
  5. Do some stargazing through the window or outside. Use a stargazing app like Google Sky to identify planets and constellations.
  6. Have an indoor scavenger hunt that is helpful for learning to read. This is a great game if the child knows some letters. Stick post-it notes with item names on the said item in the house, e.g. write “fridge” on post-it and stick it to the fridge. Then, make a list of items to find for the scavenger hunt. For each item, write only the first letter and make underlines for the rest of the letters. E.g, “fridge” should be “f _ _ _ _ _”. In the game, the child should use the list to find post-its and fill out the whole word on the list.
  7. Play other scavenger hunts. You can find printable lists for scavenger hunt on Etsy and Pinterest.
  8. Read stories under the light of flashlights. This is a thing people like to do when camping. Point batteries towards the wall and make characters using shadows from your hands or children toys.
  9. Play with balloons. You and your children can make balloon animals and shapes.
  10. You can go outside and go geocaching. This is a global treasure hunt game, popular for kids and adults.
  11. Go outside and play games with a ball or frisbee.
  12. Play charades. Write or draw objects on pieces of paper and put them in a pile. A person then draws the paper and has to act out the objects without speaking, and the rest have to guess the object.