7 Outdoor Activities that Encourage Reading

The weather is warming up, the kids are out of school, and camp hasn't started yet--so how do you fill all those free hours during the day? Simple, grab the water balloons, some sidewalk chalk, and prepare for a few slightly messy, super fun, brain-building summer days.  

A PJ Family having a "reading picnic"

Each of these activities are easy to set up, low cost, keep kids active (so they'll nap or go to bed on time), and promote literacy and learning!

Sight Word Water Balloon Toss

Grab some sidewalk chalk and water balloons from your local dollar store for this fantastic cool off activity. Write your sight words out in big letters on a sidewalk or driveway. Call out a word and your reader should find it and launch their water balloon right at it, erasing the word. This is also fun to do with sidewalk chalk doodles. Don't forget to clean up the balloon pieces when you're done.

Word Dash

Children running, fast!

Using the sidewalk chalk from the last activity, gather some friends and write some words out in HUGE letters on a paved surface. Make sure the words are spread far out. Each child will start by standing on a different word. When you call a word out, everyone should run to that word as quickly as possible. You can also do this with numbers to help younger children who are learning to count. You can also mix things up by dribbling basketballs to words, trying to balance something while dashing to them, or by dancing to each word. Change the game up often to keep it fresh.

Reading Picnic

Tweens reading PJ Our Way books together

Grab a blanket, a few friends, some tasty portable snacks, and a favorite stack of books. Find a nice place to sit and nosh on your treats while listening to stories or taking turns reading aloud together. Don't forget your sunscreen and bug spray! Looking for a good book to take along? Check out this book list: Books for Kids Who Love Being Outside

Photo Hunt

Little boy taking photos with a very fancy camera

Equip the kids with a disposable camera or an old digital camera and take a long walk together, photographing new and familiar words on the way. You'll have a reason to explore the neighborhood, or a new place, while stretching your creative muscles too. You can also do this activity with younger children by searching for and photographing letters of the alphabet.

Alphabet Pounce

Jumping through the alphabet
image via The Imagination Tree

Who doesn't want to jump on a trampoline? Seriously. In this energy expending activity from The Imagination Tree, players will bounce to words on a trampoline. Of course not everyone has unlimited access to a trampoline or bounce house, you can amend this activity to work with jumping, hopping, or playing hopscotch.

Make "Story Stones" 

Stones painted like ladybugs

Collect some stones either from your backyard, a nature walk, or a trip to the beach. Decorate each individual stone by painting it, adding stickers, or drawing on it with markers. Once the stones decorated, mix them up in a bag or a box and then use the randomly drawn stones to inspire stories. Players can each draw one stone and build on a story together, or a solo player can draw several random stones and improvise a story based on the images that they see. Find story stone games and ideas here.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope at camp

Do you remember jumping rope at camp or during recess and singing fun rhyming songs as you jumped? Playing with rhymes and chanting them rhythmically is a great way to help kids develop a sense of rhythm, work on memorization skills, and develop their coordination. Your children will also be getting an awesome workout while they play. Looking for some jump rope basics? Try these.


Share your summer fun with us on Facebook and Instagram with #pjlibrary