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An Early Intervention Camping Unit for Extended School Year

Camping Fun to Support Young Students with Disabilities


An Early Intervention Camping Unit for Extended School Year

Fun in a Tent


Full day early intervention programs have most of the same components whether during the regular school year or the Extended School Year. Your ESY program will be a lot more fun if you focus on themes that will generate enthusiasm and energy. Older brothers and sisters or cousins may go to camp, so this unit is designed to build on favorite summer activities.

Model Schedule

  • Opening meeting (20 minutes)
  • Academic block (45 minutes)
  • Craft or Art Activity (30 minutes)
  • Group time/story time (20 minutes)
  • Lunch/recess (60 to 75 minutes)
  • Group time/music time (20 minutes).
  • Center time (60 minutes, or 10 to 15 minutes in each center.)
  • Closing time (15-25 minutes.)

Activities for Group Time

Books for Reading: Here are some titles for reading aloud.

  • Eastman, P. (2005) Fred and Ted Go Camping (Random House "Beginner Books": New York) A fun "I Can Read It" with dogs Fred and Ted and their camping misadventures.
  • Olivia Goes Camping (Simon Spotlight: New York) Olivia and her family take Francine on a camping trip. Easy to read, still a good way to introduce the idea of camping.
  • Lakin, P. and Nash, S. (2009) Camping Day (Dial Books for Young Readers, New York) The Crocodiles go camping in a fun, easy to read book. If y ou have any emerging readers, they might be able to handle this easy text. Still, a good, rhyming read aloud.
  • Mader, J. (2007) Let's Go Camping. (Capstone Press: Mankato, Minnesota .) A non-fiction early reader book with lots of bright photos, to learn more about camping.
  • Manushkin, F. and Lyon, T. (2010)Katie Goes Camping (Capstone Press: Mankator, MN.) Katie Woo goes camping with her friends, Jo Jo and Pedro, and thinks she sees a ghost.
  • Meyer, S and Huntington, A. (2008) Matthew and Tall Rabbit Go Camping.(Down East Publishing: Camden, Maine.) The main character, Matthew is a pre-schooler who is afraid to sleep without his nightlight. It introduces tents, sleeping bags, camp fires and other ideas your students may not know.
  • Rey, H.A. (1999.) Curious George Goes Camping (Houghton Mifflin: New York.) Curious George goes camping with the man in the yellow hat, and George, of course, finds trouble. But he also saves the day, preventing a forest fire.

Music: If you've ever been a camper, you probably know lots of great camp songs. Some favorites:

  • Bingo
  • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
  • Bringing Home My Baby Bumble Bee.
  • All God's Critters

Phonemic Awareness Activities: Preschool children, even those with disabilities, need to start getting familiar with word sounds, especially initial consonants. Show the picture of something related to camping, and give each child the initial consonant on a card. Have the children hold up their card when they hear the same word. Some ideas:

  1. T as in tent, also tree, track, trap, top, etc.
  2. C as in camping, also canoe, camera, cactus, and corn, etc.
  3. B as in boating, also bear, bedroll, blaze, etc.T as in tent, also tree, tick, toes, trampoline, etc.
  4. F as in fishing, also fire, friends, fox, etc.

Videos to Teach Vocabulary

You certainly don't want your program to become "babysitting," but a video may be an attractive way to introduce concepts, vocabulary and keep the attention of children with disabilities.

  • Sid's Backyard Campout, from Sid the Science Kid, a PBS Kids program. Sid and his Dad invite a friend for a campout in the backyard, with songs and plenty of information about the importance of preserving the environment.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey's Great Outdoors, from Disney. Mickey and his friends go camping, and share lots of concepts along the way.

Activities for Academic Time

  • Counting activities: How about counting animal counters? Use muffin tins and place circles with numbers in them, and have the children count them. How about Gummy worms as counters?
  • Camping Dot to dots for Skip Counting. These dot to dots provide practice skip counting by 2's and 5's. For students just learning skip counting, include a hundred chart.
  • Cutting/Alphabet activities for phonemic awareness: T, hard C, F and S.
  • Cutting Activities for Camping.

Art Activities

  • Friendship bracelets: Beads and some leather laces become friendship bracelets with a couple knots which you, as a teacher, tie. Add lettered beads, and it becomes an exercise in letter recognition.
  • Tie Dye: Tie dye shirts have come and gone, but it's still a fun and exciting activity. Even if you students fold, and you put the rubber bands on, or you roll, and your students wind their shirt with kite string, this is a fun activity that everyone should be able to do.
  • Rubbings Take old crayons and construction paper and have students identify textures they find in nature on a nature walk. Cut them out and make a patchwork, or have students use different water colors as a wash.


  • A Reading Tent. Pitch a pop-up tent with flexible rods: use a two man if you have one, or you might purchase a small one at a big box store inexpensively.
  • Fishing: put a magnet on the end of a string and make a fishing pole from a ¼ in. dowel. Cut out some fish and put a paper clip over the nose. Your fish can be marked with letters or numbers, and can be traded for prizes of used to spell words.
  • Sand Play. Bury acorns or plastic insects (used as counters) in the sand and have your students dig for them.

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