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Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

By Laila Weir

To set kids up for long-term success and get them kindergarten-ready, it’s important to introduce them to letters early and often. Repetition is key to really fixing these all-important squiggles into their memories, as is exposing them to letters in a variety of contexts. 

But as any parent knows, small children have a whole lot of energy to let out of their systems. Getting our little ones outside keeps them healthy and happy—and offers a welcome shot at tiring them out enough for an early bedtime. So sitting at a table to tackle endless alphabet worksheets (or even more creative literacy activities) doesn’t always feel like an option. 

That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our most popular posts about how to reinforce letter learning while getting kids out and active at the same time. All of these activities are super simple and affordable, requiring only basic materials. (You’ll also find a free printable at the end.) 

So follow the links below for inspiration to blend some crucial early literacy practice into outdoor time with your kids. Then enjoy the fresh air as you get a little exercise alongside them!

LETTER LEARNING: AWESOME ALPHABET HOPSCOTCH

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 from early childhood educator Chrysta Naron 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. All you need is a single piece of chalk.

In this post, Chrysta shares how to use hopscotch to teach both letter names and letter sounds—two key and very distinct steps towards reading and writing. She also describes how to play indoors, so you can still enjoy some active learning play if conditions keep you inside.

THE ULTIMATE OUTDOOR SCAVENGER HUNT FOR KIDS FROM A TO Z

Try this letter scavenger hunt to engage kids and have family fun outdoors. Getting outside, moving around, and boosting letter engagement is a win-win-win. What’s more, this simple and completely free activity builds mindfulness and strengthens your bond with your child. Strolling together at a leisurely pace provides a welcome break from technology and a chance to notice your surroundings.

This article from contributor Karen Williams gives tips and ideas for taking your child on a literacy scavenger hunt around the neighborhood, plus suggests three scavenger hunt books for kids in different age groups. Karen recommends a variety of ways to customize your hunt, including adaptations for older kids.

ALPHA-BINGO GETS KIDS MOVING AND LEARNING

Early childhood educator and literacy specialist Chysta Naron offers a twist on the literacy scavenger hunt: alphabet bingo. In this simple literacy game, you and your child will make real-world connections to the letters they’re practicing, all while exploring your neighborhood together.

Chrysta offers up educator-tested tips for maximizing your child’s letter learning, suggestions on which letters to focus on first, and directions for playing with multiple children. You’ll also find a printable alpha-bingo card to get you started. (No printer? Not a problem. You can always make your own, of course. Bonus: Making your own card offers a chance to help your kiddo write the letters.)

Outdoor Literacy Games pin