7 outdoor literacy activities for kids

Making play dough at the park.

Making play dough at the park.

This summer, Holyoke Public Schools is engaging parents and kids with a series of literacy activities at different community parks, showing that we can learn while we enjoy the nice weather. As a Family Access and Engagement Coordinator for a Holyoke elementary school, I’ve had a lot of fun leading these literacy activities outdoors. They are perfect to use as part of a summer program or at home with your own children.

Try some of my favorite literacy activities the next time you’re outside:

  1. Beach ball game – First, write different sight words on each section of a beach ball. Then have kids toss the ball to each other. When they catch the ball, encourage the children to spell and read the words they are touching.
  2. Hopscotch– Grab some chalk and write sight words on each square. When a child throws the rock onto a square, encourage them to spell and read the sight word inside it.  
  3. Sight words BINGO game– Instead of using numbers,  try this game using sight words on each child’s BINGO card. When you call out each word, read it and spell it out loud.
  4. Fishing for words- Take a new spin on the traditional fishing game. Underneath each fish, add letters or a sight word. If you are using letters, encourage the child to find something around them that begins with that letter.
  5. No-cook play dough – Try making play dough outside. There are lots of easy no-cook recipes online. Encourage kids to read the recipe and add the ingredients. Talk about texture, color, measurements and quantity. Use alphabet letter cutters and encourage children to write names or words with their play dough.
  6. I Spy game – Here’s a quick game that you can play anytime. Play I Spy describing the first letter, color or name of an object around you. Each player can have three chances to guess, and the person who guesses correctly earns one point.
  7. Read! – Of course, one of the best activities to improve literacy skills is to read. Try reading books in a small group setting outside. Ask your local librarian to help you find books about nature, the weather, parks and the summer season. Then have conversations to connect the environment with the reading.