What's better than camping as a kid? The smell of the fire, eating totally different food, s'mores, sleeping bags, and walking a quarter of a mile to use the bathroom--it's the BEST! (Please note: As an adult, I hate camping and always will).
Last week, I channeled everything I loved about camping as a child and did a program called Campfire Stories!
I had the lights out as the kids came in the room, and I told them all to sit around the fire with me. They were totally intrigued by this! Why was this thing there? What was it made out of? What is hot? Once they were totally sure it wasn't real fire, they couldn't stop touching it--just because they could!
While seated nicely around the fire, I conducted a camping-themed storytime. First I read Curious George Goes Camping by Margret and H.A. Rey, which may have been a little too long. For this very reason, it was my first time doing a Curious George book in storytime, but I think it at least partially worked. Also, who even cared what I was reading with that AWESOME FIRE in the middle of the circle?
After Curious George, I introduced my childhood favorite camp song: Down By the Bay. I just loved this one in pre-school. I made a simple Down By the Bay felt board (using photo copies from this Raffi book) many years ago and I used the pieces from it as we sang. Have you ever seen a whale with a polka dot tale?
Last, I read Scare a Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin, which again, I think just couldn't compete with the fire! What can ya do?
Then it was (finally) s'mores time:
I used marshmallow fluff instead of marshmallows so the s'more would stay together without having to deal with any kind of cooking. It worked well and the kids were definitely not shy about taking seconds and thirds. And there were a lot of marshmallow fluffy faces by the end of the program.
Last, we did our craft. I'm always very self-conscious when I do just an Oriental Trading craft. I'm afraid it makes me look lazy but this one was really cute and actually fun to do:
It can be found here, from Oriental Trading. It's actually a little complicated! First you have to spread a glue/water mixture (not included) over the clear, fire-shaped "belly" of the thing. Then you place squares of tissue paper wherever you want over the mixture. If the squares come up the edges, you have to cut them neatly(ish) once they're kind of dry enough. Then you glue on the ribbon for hanging and the included foam outline. And last, you add the other foam pieces, the logs and rocks, on top. It's an effort! Here are a couple of samples:
What worked least: I searched really hard for good, camping-themed books and even still, I wasn't wild about my selection. And it seems the kids weren't either. The books were ok, but I could see that as I read, all the kids wanted to do was play with the fire. And some did.
What worked best: The fire! Hands down! Apparently, the secret to a successful program is a fake fire.