Summer vacation is upon us! It’s so nice to finally get to enjoy the sunshine and spend more time outside. Kids who have been actively learning in pre-and elementary schools are ready to put the pencils away and enjoy outside play. Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate learning and literacy into active, outside play time. Here is a list of some of my favorite ideas:

  1. Sidewalk Chalk: Holding a writing instrument, scribbling and drawing are all important pre-literacy skills. Offer chalk in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and allow children to “chalk” to their heart’s content. Older children will enjoy writing their names, drawing stories and even creating games.
  2. Hop Scotch: A perfect game for preschool or older children, this incorporates coordination and movement with number recognition and problem solving. Try varying the length or using larger numbers to keep things interesting.
  3. Water “Painting”: A driveway or sidewalk becomes a blank canvas when a child is given a paintbrush and a cup of water. Depending on the temperature and humidity, the “paint” will dry and disappear. A variation that works well is to also allow children to “paint” over their chalk creations. Vary the size and shape of the paintbrush to practice fine motor and gross motor skills.  GIANT Memory Game
  4. GIANT Memory Game: This idea takes a little preparation, but is worth the effort. Grab a stack of 8 to 24 any size paper plates (depending on the age of children playing). Draw the same shape/design/picture/letter on each pair of plates. When all are done, and all have a matching “mate,” place them picture-down in the yard. Have children take turns guessing and flipping two plates until they find a matching pair. When that happens, pull the match and continue.
  5. Alphabet Game: While you are walking (to the park, to the library, etc.) or exploring someplace new, have children look for letters of the alphabet… in order! See how far they can get as a group. Utilize a “pause game” rule for safety in crossing streets or heavier traffic areas
  6. Read Outside: Never underestimate the fun of “breaking the rules” and doing something outside that is typically an inside activity. Try reading The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola with your kids, and then laying on your backs and finding shapes in the clouds in the sky.

With a little creativity (and a lot of sunscreen!), we can make sure our kids continue to learn and explore literacy during the summer months. What are some of your favorite ideas?