If you thought strengthening your child’s phonic knowledge had to mean sitting down with them at the kitchen table, think again. Home educating mum of 2 and Mama Brown & Co contributor Saskia Crawley shares how she gets her boys engaged with active literacy at the playground:
Active I Spy...
Let’s start with a classic given a fun new twist. I spy is great for even the littlest learner to start picking up on phonics sounds, and at the playground (or in the garden) adding in an active element boosts engagement and burns off energy. It’s super simple, play I spy but instead of saying the answer, run and touch or point to the object you think it is! Who can get there first?
Flash card hunt
We often take props and toys to our local playground. Blankets, books, flashcards - and a favourite - MAGNATILES! A much-loved activity is when I pin up flashcards around the play equipment using magnetic tiles and then shout out a word that my eldest has to read and collect. I love that he’s getting to mix keeping active with practising to read (not his favourite activity) and you’ve got to love it when they say things like ‘This is so fun. We’ve got to do it again and again!’.
Post-it note match
Other accessories we often take to the playground are clipboards, pens/paper and post-it notes. In a similar vein to the flash card hunt, I sometimes hide post-it notes with letters and sounds on and then ask my 5-year-old will find them and copy them onto his clipboard before running on to find the next one. Clipboards are great for another version of I Spy too, where the ‘spier’ draws the item or detail they see around the playground and the others must point it out.
Swing and shout
One for the swing when you’re still persuaded to push them even though they’re clearly old enough to do it themselves... (just me?) Pick a phonics sound (say ‘a’) and then take it in turns to shout out a word that starts with that sound with each swing back and forth (eg, ant, apple, alligator, angry...).
Answer and slide
This is another fun game that gets them running about as you build up a rhythm of ‘answer and slide’. You stand near the bottom of the slide and give your child a phonics sound or digraph to decode (for example, O-W) and they have to say the sound ‘ow!’ before sliding down. They then run around, climb up and get ready for the next one - seeing how fast you go from one to the next.
Would you ever take learning to the playground or will you try any of these ideas in the back garden? Let us know what you think over on Instagram or head to the shop to check out our tools to encourage fun with phonics and help your minis practice what they've learnt.