5 Outdoor Activities that Improve Literacy Skills

outdoor kids reading

Outdoor activities are a great opportunity for children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and enjoy a change of scenery.

Many children can be reluctant to sit down and read a book every day. But there are many outdoor activities you can do together to improve important reading and writing skills while having fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Nature walk

Nature walks are a wonderful way to encourage your child’s appreciation for the natural environment. Talk about the things you see, hear, feel and smell. Bring a camera along and take photos of birds, plants, trees, rocks and bodies of water.

When you get home, gather your images and attach them to a large sheet of construction paper. Ask your child to label each photo and write a few sentences to describe them. Reflect on the things you talked about during your nature walk, like the sound of different birds, the texture of certain leaves and the colours of interesting flowers. Older children can try to describe each photo by writing a poem.

2. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a widely successful game for young children, and even adults! This is an activity that the whole family can do together. Choose a place to have the hunt, such as the park or in the backyard, and decide what kind of prizes to have at the end. Create a list of things for your children to find. It can be anything, such as a pencil, ball of string, a skipping rope, a book, a toy – the possibilities are endless!

Divide each team into groups of at least two people. Give each group a list of items and a time limit. Your children should have enough time to read the items on the list and find them. You can even be extra creative and write cryptic clues for older children to decipher!

3. Go shopping

Ask your child to help you write down what you need to buy at the supermarket. You can write down all of the items together, or you can even tell your child the items and ask them to try and spell them on their own. This activity is also a helpful way to introduce your child to writing numerals if you’re buying specific quantities of items. You can then go shopping and pick out each item on the list, demonstrating to your child what these words represent in real life.

4. Act out a poem or song

When children act out a beloved poem or song, they learn to appreciate rhyme, rhythm, and the images it paints with a few carefully chosen words. Children grow as readers by connecting feelings with the written word, which sets them on the path towards a lifelong love of reading.

Read a poem or the lyrics of a song with your child. Suggest acting out one particular section or the whole piece. Encourage your child to make facial expressions that convey the character’s feelings, and don’t worry too much about making mistakes – be enthusiastic and keep things fun.

5. Cook together (indoors or outdoors)

Does your child enjoy learning how to whip up their favourite cakes or desserts? Get your child in the kitchen to create their favourite dish, or ask them to help you prepare dinner. Cooking together is not only a lot of fun, but also allows your child to see you following recipes from cookbooks and reading instructions on packages. Before you start, you can sit down with the recipe and reword it in a way that is easy for your child to understand. While you cook, ask them to read out which step comes next.

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