Outdoor Play for Pre-Reading Skills

Did you know that you can practice the six pre-reading skills outdoors? Literacy learning can happen in any location. With the warmer weather approaching, get outside and practice some fun early literacy skills today!

What are the 6 Pre-Reading Literacy Skills?

The Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) program is a research-based early literacy outreach education program for parents and caregivers. In its first iteration, it identified six skills children must know before they can learn to read.

  1. Print Motivation – taking an interest in and enjoying books
  2. Print Awareness – learning that writing follows certain rules
  3. Letter Knowledge – recognize and name letters
  4. Vocabulary – knowing the names of things
  5. Phonological Awareness – understanding of hearing and manipulating sounds in words
  6. Narrative Skills – understand and tell a story and describe things

Ways to Learn Outside

These skills can all be taught and practiced by choosing deliberate outdoor play activities that incorporate the skills. Here are some ideas to practice these skills in an outdoor environment:

  • Print motivation – read a story outside. Perhaps choose a story that takes place in the same environment, like the seaside or a city park.
  • Print awareness – read everything that you see! Writing is everywhere in human environments, whether that be signage, labels or instructions.
  • Letter knowledge – find items in the wild that are a similar shape as letters. For example, find a triangle and talk about how that looks like the capital letter “A”.
  • Vocabulary – talk about all the specific things you see in the environment, what’s going on around you in nature, and how that makes you feel.
  • Phonological awareness – playing “I spy” is a great way to practice phonemic awareness (part of phonological awareness).
  • Narrative skills – use the natural setting around you to tell a story with the child featuring plants, animals, rocks, or landscape formations as the characters.

For more ideas check out the video and resources below.


Enter to win!

Borrow material from the Decoda Literacy Library in May and you’ll be automatically entered to win a $25 gift card for Chapters Indigo!

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