Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

By Chrysta Naron

If your little ones are anything like those I teach as an early child educator, they probably get very bored very quickly sitting still, especially when workbooks are involved. Alphabet Hopscotch provides important alphabet knowledge and letter sound practice—all while reinforcing gross motor skills and getting kids some much-needed exercise and fresh air. 

But most of all, this easy alphabet game is a fun way to bolster literacy while on the move with wriggly kids. This game can come to life in just a few minutes with just a single piece of chalk for supplies. Talk about easy. (Or, if you can’t get outside, you can easily modify the activity for indoor play.) So let’s get hopping!

Materials Needed:

  • Chalk (or masking tape for indoors)

Optional Materials (for indoors game variations):

  • Paper 
  • Marker 
  • Tape 

Cost: If you have a piece of chalk on hand, this activity will cost you nothing!

Step 1: Using the chalk, draw a hopscotch court on your driveway or sidewalk. (If you don’t have access to pavement, no worries! You can replicate this activity with masking tape on the floor.)

Step 2: In each square, write a different letter. I recommend using lowercase letters, because that’s what kids encounter most when they start reading—even though activities for youngsters typically feature uppercase letters, leading most kids to master those first. But you can use uppercase, lowercase, or a mix of the two; the main thing is to adapt to your child.

Similarly, choose letters that will reinforce and expand your child’s knowledge. For new alphabet-learners, start with their own first initial plus easier to learn letters such as O, A, B, C, and X. Research suggests that kids tend to pick up these letters first because of the frequency of exposure to them (ABC), and because of the distinctiveness of their shapes (O and X). 

Step 3: Invite your child to stand at the bottom of the court. Call out one of the letters on the hopscotch and ask them to jump to that letter. They can jump on one leg or two (again, adapt the challenge to the child).

Step 4: Repeat until all the letters have been called out. Feel free to go again if everyone is having fun!

Step 5: Now it’s time for round 2!  This time, call out the sound of the letter. Use short vowel sounds (e.g., the way “a” sounds in “cat”) and, for consonants that can be pronounced more than one way, use their “hard” sounds (the way “g” sounds in “get” and “c” sounds in “car”). This time, have your child jump to the letter that matches the sound.

You can easily modify this game for children with limited mobility. For example, ask them to direct you to where to jump, or invite them to drop a ball or toy onto the correct letter. You could also draw a miniature hopscotch on a piece of paper and have them move a pawn or figurine to the letter, or color the box with the letter in it. It’s all about finding ways to make literacy learning interactive.

What’s more, you can adapt Alphabet Hopscotch to whatever skills you want to work on. As your child’s reading skills evolve, the game can evolve too. Add letter blends, soft consonant sounds, sight words—even numbers or beginning math facts. The key is to keep kids moving and mastering those new skills, as you help them build a healthy body and mind!