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Outdoor reading activities

Outdoor activities for children aged 5-12 to help them improve reading, writing and listening skills.


Taking reading outdoors can be a great, simple way to add some fun and interest to your children’s book enjoyment and literacy development.

Outdoor reading activity ideas

Go on a ‘Booknic’

If you like, you could make the snacks or games part of the reading experience, e.g. eat or play the same things as the characters in the story.

Read a book or story about the outdoors

Afterwards, have a chat and explore your outside space based on what you’ve read.

Include things you find outdoors into your reading

Using sticks, small rocks or stones, or other such small objects, as ‘instruments’ to help create an ‘outdoor orchestra’ can help to engage your young readers.

Act out the story

Make use of objects you find in your outdoors space to do this, or bring along a favourite toy.

Build a reading den

Fill the den with cushions and blankets to help create a reading environment that feels special and comfortable.

Go on a story treasure hunt

Perhaps you could read a story together and then go and look for related things together afterwards.

Go on an A to Z journey through your outdoors space.

You can do this on a trip to the park, in a garden, or even on a walk to the shops. Go through the alphabet, spying something in your outside space for each letter.

Draw a map of the outside space.

Whilst your children draw their map, encourage them to write labels for the key sites. They could add a fairies’ grotto, pirates’ buried treasure, or an alien landing zone – absolutely anything they like!

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Outdoor activities to try with your 5 to 8-year-olds

Develop alphabet and sentence skills with letter or story stones.

For children working on developing their letter recognition, use letter stones as a find-and-discover game, or as tools to build short words. For children ready to do so, use word stones to build a selection of silly sentences.

Create bouncy sentences with ‘word puddles’.

Write some words on pieces of paper and scatter them around your outside space. Challenge your children to bounce between these word puddles and build as many different sentences as they can.

Work on reading and listening skills with ‘find and rhyme’.

Take a selection of rhyming pairs of words written on little pieces of paper; keep one word from each pair with your children and secretly hide the other ones around your outside space. Set your children off to find the matching words and pair them up.

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Outdoor reading activities for 9 to 12-year-olds

Engage with outdoor life by keeping a nature journal.

Maybe they could imagine they’re taking these notes from the point of view of a favourite book character – what would they think about the nature around them.

Use the outdoors as inspiration for a random story generator game.

Take it in turns to come up with sentences to build your own story based on your surroundings. For each sentence, take inspiration from either an object or something you can see in your outside space.

Explore the outdoors and develop creativity with a scavenger hunt.

This activity can work as part of a trip to the park or on a walk, and can be done either in one stint or over a few days. The clues can be as simple as ‘find something beginning with the letter t’, or you can go for something more outside of the box, such as ‘find the strangest thing you could use as a pen’.

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