Outdoor Sight Word Hunt with LEGO DUPLO

sight word game for kindergartenSome children are eager to show you what they know as soon as they learn it and some either lack the confidence or simply dislike any spotlight or obvious praise. As parents and teachers, it can be a challenge to assess what these children know and what to teach them next. This is what I love about play even when you are working on specific targets like sight words or math facts. Turning it into a game takes the pressure off and you can use this sight word hunt and match for assessment, practice or just for fun like we did.

Gather your materials. You will need some LEGO DUPLO, a DUPLO base piece, a permanent marker, and a yard with lots of places to hide the words.sight word activity gross motor

Write out pairs of words. There are all different places to find sight word or high-frequency word lists by grade level. Find lists here and here. When I choose the words I use for my daughter’s activities I use many I know she will recognize immediately and a few she might need help with. This activity is great because of the matching element, even words that aren’t immediately recognizable can be matched up. Do not worry about using Sharpie on your DUPLO it won’t wreck it. Watch this video and see how to do it. duplo sight word game for kids

Stick one copy of the word pairs on the DUPLO base piece.sight word actovoty for kids

Hide the others. I kept the words in one small area because the point wasn’t to have her run everywhere but to do a little gross motor as part of a literacy activity. summer reading game for kids

Read through the base pieces together. There were only a few she didn’t immediately recognize but later when she found their match she did. Awesome! sight word scavenger hunt for kids outside literacy activity

She found the first few right away and matched them up.

sight word actvity for preK

The last few were tricky, but she eventually used her super finder skills and grabbed them. Awesome reading game with sight words outside!

Making learning fun is important not just because it helps make a deeper connection but because we expect a lot of our children and increasingly young ages. Some parents like will simply opt out, but I choose to help my children meet the expectations they can through playful learning. sight word actvity

 

Exercise Eggs – Find & Move Scavenger Hunt

gross motor activities for kids I have been going through my photo archives and finding activities I have photos of but never posted. This scavenger hunt must have just gotten missed because it’s a great game and we’ve played it many times since, I don’t know why I have never posted it. The goal of the game is to get kids moving when it’s too cold or wet to run outside but it uses the novelty of finding and opening these sport themed Easter eggs ( which are already in the stores) to make it just a little more fun.

Please excuse the blurry photos – this was before I had a great camera or kids who’d freeze when I asked!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs ( any theme will work), some paper, a pen, and scissors.easter egg gross motor activity

Start by cutting your paper into strips small enough to stuff into the eggs. Write different actions on the paper. If you really want to tire your kids out go big!gross motor eggs

Here are some ideas for you :

10 jumping jacks.
Sing the alphabet while skipping around the room.
March in place for 25 seconds.
Do a crab walk around the couch.
Stomp 5 times.
Touch your toes.
Jump as high as you can 5 times.
Sing Head and Shoulders.
5 burpees.
5 sit ups.
Dance like a maniac!

Pop those in and hide the eggs. Can you see any in the room? My little ones ( oh look how little they were…) were eager to find them all.sport egg

Search for the eggs. easter egg gross motor sports eggsAs you find them open them up, read it exercise eggs and do what it says. We all did the actions as a group but you can decide if the finder does it or everyone joins in. easter egg gross motor jumping

You can make this activity a quick brain break or a long full body workout. It’s all up to you. Either way it’s fast and fun to put together. So go grab some plastic eggs and get moving!

 

Backyard Safari and Map Activity

map activity for preschoolThis map activity was a huge hit because it included pretend play. Preschoolers love jumping into a fun pretend play scenario and adding a big dose of imagination to a regular old activity. My daughter loves going on safari when she plays dress up so I used that love to turn a simple hunt into a map activity. Reading maps is an important skill not just for the future but it teaches directions ( as we played we practiced left and right)  and uses spatial thinking skills . This took less than 5 minutes to set up and even if you don’t have a yard you can pop the toys in a backpack and try this at the park, beach, or even inside your home.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some toy animals, toy binoculars ( or make some like these binoculars), safari dress up, a clip board, markers and paper for making the map.backyard safari supplies

I started by mapping out our yard. It took me two tries before I got a somewhat accurate map. You could probably google earth your house and get a great shot of your yard but I don’t plan that far ahead so I free handed it.map activity for kids backyard safari

Then I added and X for each animal. Some spots have two Xs because there are two animals together.safari map for kids

Invite your little explorer to get ready for the safari!backyard safari dress up

Show them the map and go over it with them by asking them if they know what it is. What each part represents etc… don’t explain it all to them, let them explain it to you and you can fill in any big blanks if they arise.safari map activity for kids

Get ready to find some animals. I only helped once when she was really getting frustrated. The little alligator was tiny and well hidden. backyard scavenger hunt for kidsEvery time she found an animal she kissed it and put it back. gross motor safari game for preschoolI explained that when you go on Safari you observe the animals but you don’t take them with you.map activity for preschool  As we went along she found them even faster as well as got into the character , she was running so fast from one to the next.gross motor map gameMake sure you take a few moments to talk about what kind of animals they are and a little bit about them. We talked about herbivores and carnivores and how they are different.  She was very proud of herself for being able to read a map. For older kids have them create their own maps of the yard and add the Xs on after.back yard safari scavenger hunt

Story Books Featuring Safari Animals

all our book lists include affiliate links.

books about being different

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad he starts to dance!  This has been a favorite in our house for years!

Elmer
Elmer by David McKee is another book with a great message. Elmer is different, he isn’t gray like all the other elephants, and he’s a little bit of a goof too! He’s not so sure he likes that though. Like all of us it takes some time for Elmer to accept who he is but in the end he sees that patchwork is just who he is!

Hilda Must Be Dancing

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is bog and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything, it’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies, but knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart, Hilda needs to move and groove!  I loves that a solution is found that makes everyone happy, that Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion, but that she isn’t so selfish as to simply say ” too bad” to her friends either.

Outdoor Alphabet Hunt

alphabet hunt outside learning It is so easy to turn a simple game into a educational one with a few additions. This alphabet hunt took me 5 minutes to plan and put together, including the maker test you will see below. I decided to use Duplo because even though it was sunny our yard has countless things that might get blocks wet or dirty. The Duplo are easy to clean and the connect together to create a full alphabet. This wasn’t the main purpose even though she naturally wanted to make the alphabet. Alphabetical order is not a huge concern at this age although using it as a tool to work on letter recognition can be useful. We used it as one way to see if we had all the letters. For children not eager to look for 26 letters try the letters in their name instead for older kids try sight words. For more alphabet ideas check out our Alphabet For Starters series.

Gather your materials. You will need some Duplo or other plastic interlocking blocks, a sharpie or two, a yard and you’ll want a dry erase marker to take the letters off when you are done using these blocks as letter blocks.duplo alphabet letter hunt outside

Start by doing a test on one block to make sure that the permanent markers you have will come off the blocks. I tested it out on a orange block. I wrote test on the block and waited 5 minutes. It was totally dry and then using dry erase marker I covered the whole word. Then wiped. It came off. I repeated this days later after doing the activity and the letters came off no problem. Test out your own on a small spot on the inside to make sure your marker comes off. duplo letter hunt

Write the letters on the blocks. alphabet hunt outdoors with duplo

Hide the blocks outside. We have a pretty big front yard so I spread them out!outdoor alphabet block hunt for kids

Time to search!alphabet hunt outside for preschoolers She found the first one right away. alphabet scavenger hunt for kidsNow depending on how many children are participating and what your specific learning goals are for your child you can add in some learning as they find the blocks too. I didn’t ask for every letter but every few blocks I would ask her what sound the letter made. Remember the sound is much more important than the name. I would also ask her to name something that started with the letter.alphabet hunt for kids outside

She started putting some letters together right away.alphabet hunt enjoying the sun

She took a break to soak in some sun.alphabet hunt outside for little kids

After we had many we put them into alphabetical order using the alphabet song as a guide. We also counted them and discovered we were missing some. We found all but one pretty easily. The v block was missing for a few hours. We went inside and took a break, then returned outside after a rest and snack and found it.

alphabet game outside

Have fun with letters.

Alphabet Books

Here are some great alphabet books to go with your activity. All book lists include affiliate links.

Alphabetter

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el and Graham Ross is another great alphabet book for you to check out. Each letter is represented by a child who has something that starts with the same letter as their name but doesn’t have what they want which starts with the following letter. It’s such a cute gimmick and so effective while reading that it’s not a gimmick at all! At the end of the book all the children pass the items back down the alphabet and everyone gets what they want. Awesome book for toddlers on up !

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say to my kids every night  “Go to sleep!”

Alphabet soup

Alphabet Soup by Scott Gustafson is a treat! I read a lot of alphabet books and this one stands out for so many reasons. Otter is hosting a potluck and his animal friends are all bringing something to share. Each page is devoted to an animal with a coordinating food item and more. This book is reminiscent of Graham Base’s Animalia but much more toddler friendly. Where Animalia is great for older children because it’s so full of detail, this book brings it down a notch but still enchants you with stunning illustrations and fantastic coordinating text.

 

St.Patrick’s Day Rhyming Game

st.patrick's day rhyming treasure huntRhyming is an important piece of the literacy puzzle and kids love to rhyme so it’s an easy skill to work on while having fun. This rhyming game is simple but throw in a St.Patrick’s Day theme and a treasure hunt and it goes from simple to awesome. The best part of this activity wasn’t watching my daughter work on her rhyming it was watching my son help her. My children are not immune to sibling scuffles, and from time to time when I feel like those scuffles are escalating I give them a task to work on together.

Gather your materials. You will need some shamrocks and a marker. rhyming activity for st. patrick's day

Next write pairs of rhyming words on the shamrocks. I tried to stick with a St.Patrick’s day theme but I don’t think my kids even noticed. I would try to match this with your child’s ability. rhyming treasure hunt for st.patrick's day

Hide the shamrocks. Don’t mind the Easter decor, we are a little early with it this year. shamrock rhyming game

Gather your troops and explain that they will be searching for shamrocks and then working together to match them up in rhyming pairs. shamrock rhyming word treasure hunt

Search! shamrock rhyming word search game

Match up the rhymes.st.patrick's day treasure hunt I asked my son not to match them up until all were found so that his sister could be part of this step as well. With a three and a half year age gap, the ability gap is big right now and my daughter is very sensitive to her brother doing everything for her. By forcing him to slow down and take her feelings into account I am hoping to teach him to be more sensitive to others and to send her the message that she isn’t just running behind playing catch up. Adjust this step to your players.  rhyming game for st.patrick's dayIf kids are having a hard time matching rhymes one of my favorite strategies is to offer two different pairs one rhyming and one not to choose from. Often  hearing two options will help them distinguish between a rhyming pair and two words that do not rhyme.rhyming activity gross motor st. patrick's day Some children get stuck on words with similar beginning sounds thinking that it’s the initial sound they are trying to match. If this is the case with your child make sure you are taking the time to really over emphasize the sounds in the words and saying for example “g-old, s-old they rhyme!  G-et and g- old have the same first sound but do not rhyme. Rhyming is the same last sound. G-old and s-old rhyme.”  A less overt way to continue working on this is to read , lots and lots of books that rhyme.  Check them out here.

25 picture books that rhyme