Outdoor Games for Kids' Literacy
5 Outdoor Games that Build Kids’ Literacy
Taking your literacy lessons outside is a great opportunity to mix things up and encourage more movement, exercise, and time spent outdoors.
It’s also a great way to motivate children who sometimes feel reluctant to sit down for long periods of time.
Here are five fun outdoor games and activities that build essential reading, writing and literacy skills for young kids.
1. Organize a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a hugely popular game for children and adults alike — which makes it a perfect outdoor activity for the whole family.
The game is simple. Choose a safe location such as a local park or the backyard. Then create a list of items for participants to find and collect (or photograph). It can be anything — a red leaf, a feather, a heart-shaped rock, or a cloud that looks like an animal.
Divide your teams into groups of at least two people, and give each team a list of items and a time limit. Participants should have enough time to read the items and locate them. You can even be extra creative and write cryptic clues for older children to decipher!
2. Go on a nature walk and record what you see
Nature walks and hikes not only provide rich opportunities for learning, they’re also a great way to encourage your child’s appreciation for the natural world.
Choose a walking trail in a nature park, reserve or the beach (make sure it’s safe and relatively easy for little legs) and talk about things you see, hear, touch and smell.
A good idea is to record things in a notebook or sketchpad. You can also bring a camera to take photos of different birdlife, interesting plants and trees, rock formations and bodies of water.
When you get home gather your photos, notes or drawings and stick them onto a large sheet of construction paper. Label each item and write a few descriptive sentences. Older children might also like to describe their nature walk by writing a poem.
3. Go on a supermarket hunt
This everyday chore can be easily turned into a fun game that helps children see the real-world value of learning to read.
Ask your child to help you write down items you need to buy at the supermarket. Once you’re there, help them track down each item by reading down the list.
Read words on the aisle signs and help your child narrow down their search by using categories. For example, locate the ‘Vegetables’ section to find carrots, the ‘Cleaning’ section to find a sponge, or the ‘Pets’ section to find a dog collar.
4. Role-play a favorite poem or song
Role-playing is a fun and creative way to build early skills in phonemic awareness — one of the five essential components of learning to read.
When your child role-plays their favorite poem or song, they pay close attention to rhyme and rhythm — a key method of building phonemic awareness. It also encourages them to practice using new vocabulary.
Read a poem or the lyrics of a song with your child and role-play a particular section they like — or even the whole piece — in the backyard, at the park, or under the night sky. Turn it into a performance for family and friends! Taking things outdoors and into a new environment is a wonderful way to inspire creativity and imagination.
5. Play ‘chef’ and make your favorite recipe (indoors or outdoors)
There’s nothing more exciting than whipping up a delicious cake or batch of cookies in the kitchen!
Help your child write the ingredients and steps of their favorite dish, or follow a pre-written recipe together. Cooking is not only a lot of fun for young kids, but also allows them to see you follow written instructions and use them to produce something valuable.
For younger children, sit down with a recipe and reword it in a way that is easy for them to understand. While you cook, ask them to read out which step comes next.
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