On the last full week of school, I transform my classroom into a camping scene called Camp Learned A Lot. This is truly the BEST week of First Grade! We spend the week reviewing curriculum, spending time with friends, making crafts, singing songs, and just plain having fun!
On Thursday, the week before Camp Learned A Lot, I secretly email my parents to give them a heads-up about Camp Learned A Lot. Depending on my plans for Camp Learned A Lot, I may ask for materials I will need throughout the week. The most important details of the email are to keep it a secret from their kiddo and to send in mail for their child. I ask that parents write a letter to their child pretending that they are away at camp, tell them what is going on at home, and to praise them for their hard work during the school year. Parents may send in one letter or one for every day of camp.
Like I mentioned, the students have NO idea this is happening! After school on Friday, I transform the classroom into a camp scene. I decorate outside our classroom, put up a tent, add a campfire, tablecloths, lanterns, and more. Here is a look at what students see when they arrive at the classroom door on Monday:
To help set the scene inside the classroom, I turn out the lights, turn on the lanterns, and play campfire sounds throughout the room. The students are always curious when they see the sign outside but once they step inside the room, they get so excited. They still have no idea what is going on and are excited to find out!
The scene inside the classroom:
Tablecloths – purchased on Amazon
Lanterns – purchased at Dollar Tree
Tea Lights – purchased on Amazon
Campfire base is cardboard. The campfire rocks are made from black construction paper or butcher paper. Fire is made from tissue paper hot-glued to the cardboard base.
I use these lanterns as a behavior management tool. They start out on a student’s desk. When I catch someone working hard, following directions, and making good choices, I move the lantern to their desk. At the end of the day, whoever has the lantern on their desk earns a clip-up or reward. You can tie it into any classroom management system.
When students enter on Day 1, I have a campfire scene and sounds playing on my Promethean Board. I also play the scenes and sounds throughout the week while students are working on independent activities.
Some of my favorite campfire scenes/sounds on YouTube:
Students come into class, unpack, and follow their morning work routine. For camping week, I find fun camping worksheets to put out each morning such as word searches, ABC Order, sentence writing, etc. The kids love the camping tie-in.
We begin each day with a morning meeting. At morning meeting, I introduce Camp Learned A Lot, tell students what it is, a brief overview of our week (most of it is kept a secret until the day of), and go over behavior expectations/rewards for the lanterns and tents. For Camp Learned A Lot, I use morning meeting to discuss our year. Each day, students share a memory of First Grade.
We then begin our first camping activity: a class graph! On the Promethean Board, we make a class graph answering the question: Have you ever been camping before? Students answer yes or no. Then, we look at and answer questions about the data.
Next up, I read Arthur Goes to Camp
. We compare how Arthur feels at the beginning of the story to how he feels at the end of the story.
Then, students return to their cabins. That’s what I call tables during Camp Learned A Lot. In their cabins, they must come up with a cabin name and then create a flag for their cabin. We discuss tying the name into a nature theme and animals you might see while camping.
Here is the example I show students:
Some flags created by students:
When finished, I tape these to the tables. From this point on, I refer to the table groups throughout the week by their cabin name.
After this, I introduce the camp motto to the class. This is just a fun chant we recite each day at the beginning and end of camp.
The motto I use:
Everywhere we go
People want to know
Who We Are
So We Tell Them
We are Camp Learned A Lot
The Mighty, Mighty First Graders!
Each day I teach a poem/song. Today’s poem/song is A Camping We Will Go
. I always have the poem/song of the day on a paper for students to place in their poetry/fluency folders.
Throughout camp, students keep a journal. Here is the journal I use:
I got this journal from my team. I’m not sure where it came from or who the creator is, so I am only posting a picture of the cover. If you happen to know where it came from, please let me know so I can provide a link.
On Day 1, students write about their cabin, cabin mates, cabin and camp flags. They also write a recap of Day 1 and draw a picture, too. Finally, they make a list of supplies they would need to go camping.
Oh, remember the tent? Well, I use it as a behavior reward. Students who have been following directions might receive tent time. They get to go inside the tent to complete their journal for the day. I try to make it so that every student has a chance to earn tent time at some point throughout the week.
That concludes Day 1 of Camp Learned A Lot! Come back tomorrow to hear about Day 2!
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