Literacy Outdoors

A comprehensive collection of 50+ outdoor literacy ideas, activities and suggestions. They are open-ended and many work well with a range of ages and abilities. Most just rely on a few free and found resources. Check them out!

Outside children are often observed talking more, cooperating, socialising, mark making and doing many literacy activities often through their own choice. Please enjoy trying the activities and suggestions in the posts below and let me know how you get on.

Outdoor Literacy Books, Packs and Downloads

This is a useful blog post if you are looking for further resources

Writing Outside

Let’s Get Writing Outside!

Practical tips for organising writing outside all year round

Full Stops Outside

Punctuation inspiration from outside

A Blog Wordle

Using wordles to support outdoor learning activities

Making Sense of Metaphors

An approach that begins with what children do best – playing in a natural setting

Circle Poems in Action

Using tyres for poetry work

What about the Royal Wedding?

Using simple sayings for scavenger hunts and discussions. Creating diamante poems

Snow Stencils and Blood

Using syringes for writing in the snow

Literacy Trails in Outdoor Spaces

The benefits of children creating trails

Nature Detectives

How to keep your secret messages secret outside!

Wooden Spoons at The Coombes School

An interdisciplinary art, design and writing project

Learning on your Doorstep

Ideas about developing characters, settings and sequencing stories outside

Wishing Rods and Speed Breakers

Beech folklore and public art used to inspire writing outdoors

Fairy Gardens and Literacy

A super context for fantasy small-world play outside. It’s been an ongoing project in Westpark nursery.

Letter awareness

Forming Letters Outdoors

Practical suggestions to support children as they move into this process

Eye Painting

Learning to read and write letters through a photo-based app for children

Sticky Letters

Creating letters using double sided sticky tape and natural materials

Letters from Sticks

Using sticks to create capital letters

Introducing Letters

Making letters from natural materials

Reading Outside

10 Outdoor Ways to Celebrate Books

Time to get outside, get active and enjoy reading or finding out more about books. 10 suggestions to get you started.

Reading Books Outdoors

Some basic advice to get this going.

Story Lines Outside

How to use a washing line to create and tell stories

Back to School

Ten things you need to find out. A practical reading activity outside for the start of a new term

A Poetry Walk at The Coombes School

A simple reading activity outside

A Harry Potter Hunt

Using maps, clues and old-fashioned deduction skills to solve a puzzle


Linking stones to their potential for literacy and maths activities

Story Stones and Thinking Skills

The power of abstract designs on story telling

The Story of Fred the Ted

Using landmarks and literacy with young children

The Comedy Carpet

Outdoor literacy at its best

Alphabet mirror letters

For seeing letters and outdoor spaces in a different way

Reading Outdoors with Fred the Ted

A World Book Day activity

Recycling Books for use Outdoors

How to lengthen the life of a book by taking it outside

The Snowdrop Story

Why snowdrops show that spring is coming

Reading into the outdoors

Holiday reading and school grounds provision

Beware – Extreme Signage

Environmental print that is not so welcoming

I’m in Charge of Celebrations

An Earth Day activity using this book as a springboard

A Fish Trail Not a Fishy Tale

Using wordplay and sculptures to explore a local area

A Flock of Words

Bird jokes, poems, quotes and ideas for linking literacy with our feathered friends

The Stone Jetty Ramblings

More birds, word games and sculptures that help people interpret and enjoy the local area and the bird life.

Is there a nature app for that?

The identification apps which are simple enough for children and adults who know little about nature to use. Great for reading for meaning and purpose!

Back to school – 10 things you need to find out

Following simple instructions activity to help children get to know each other outside.

Celebrate the Wonder of Nature with a Byrd Baylor Book

Using books as a springboard into learning outside.

Repurpose School Books into Seed Packets

Start collecting seeds in these DIY packets. Create a seed exchange with local schools. Oh and the children can’t help reading the text on their packets!

Origami Seed Packets

A simple way of making packets to collect and store seeds. Brilliant! Again, children talk about and read the text on the paper they use.

A Red Rose Hunt for Valentine’s Day

Fuse Rabbie Burn’s poem with Valentine’s Day – learn poetry and mapping skills

10 useful fiction books for nature play and transitions

A budget approach to books bags or story sacks. Just add nature play ideas – no need to worry about missing jigsaw pieces anymore.

Talking and Listening Outside

Listening Activities Outside

Using your sense of hearing

Literacy in the Woods at the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery

A free play approach to literacy acquisition outside – lots of talking and listening and lots more beside!

Snip Snap Snout! My Story’s Out

A clear structure and approach to developing oral story telling skills outside by Catherine Heppenstall


The story of the holly, the pine and the robin. A little Christmas tale to warm your heart.

Exploring Collective Nouns Through FreezePaint

A photographic scavenger hunt to develop vocabulary and understanding of collective nouns.

Using Puppets Outdoors 10 Tips and More

Ideas and suggestions for using puppets outside. Check out the link to the video clip. It’s inspirational!

10+ Ideas for Using Story Stones

Story stones are one of the most versatile creative literacy resources. Time to create some and get those stories flowing! Great for writing as well as talking and listening.

Juliet runs outdoor literacy courses for pre-school and primary teachers and practitioners

Here’s some of her past workshops which include elements of talking, listening, reading and writing:

Orientate Yourself to Outdoor Learning

Outdoor literacy workshop based on circles

Leaf Loving Literacy Activities

The outdoor literacy activities covered at the Growing Greener Futures Conference which had a focus on leaves

Outdoor Literacy Activities at Mackie Academy

Three poetry structures well worth using outside

Love Outdoors

Using hearts and Tanka poems at Valentine’s Day literacy workshop

Outdoor Journeys in Language

Linking literacy with journeys

10 Reasons Why I Teach Literacy Outside

Time to step outside and love learning literacy through real world opportunities

Finally, Anne Sutherland kindly sent me this link to her dissertation about the impact of language work outside. It’s called L is for Language – you need to scroll down and click on the link. I’m interested to know about any other curriculum-specific research out there at any level.

The most recent Literacy Outdoors blog posts are below

Outdoor literacy: Letters from Sticks!

25 November 2011
Letters from Sticks

Fred the Ted and sticks help with outdoor literacy learning.

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Outdoor Literacy Activity: Sticky Letters

19 November 2011
Literacy Activity

The children are enjoying and responding to literacy outdoors.

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The Comedy Carpet – Outdoor Literacy at its Best!

6 November 2011
Comedy Carpet

Doing literacy activities outside is no joke…

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The Story of Fred the Ted

11 October 2011
Fred the Ted

Fred the Ted provides an avenue into literacy.

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Story Stones and Thinking Skills

29 September 2011
Story Stones

A little stone can give a lot of empowerment in a funny sort of way.

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Outdoor Literacy: Introducing letters

30 August 2011
Outdoor Letters

There are many multisensory activities which can help children recognise letters.

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Recycling books for use outdoors

7 June 2011
Reading Books Outdoors

A clever way to extend the life of a worn out book.

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Circle Poems in Action

13 May 2011
Circle Poems

Children’s words can be used to create forms and patterns.

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What about the Royal Wedding?

27 April 2011
What about the Royal Wedding?

Kate and William are getting married.

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Literacy – A Circles Theme

20 April 2011
Literacy Circles

Outdoor literacy activities on the theme of circles.

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Orientate Yourself to Outdoor Learning: Outdoor Literacy Activities

29 March 2011
Circle Band

These are the ideas and suggestions covered in the Outdoor Literacy workshop.

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Where would you rather be?

25 March 2011
Outdoor CPD

Imagine you have been given the opportunity to attend a training event for free.

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A Harry Potter Hunt

23 March 2011
Harry Potter Hunt

A useful comprehension exercise with a bit of deduction thrown in for good measure.

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Full Stops Outside

11 February 2011
Full Stops Outdoors

Taking punctuation lessons outdoors.

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Snow stencils…and blood!

21 December 2010
Snow Stencils

Here’s what happened during my lunch break…

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Outdoor Literacy Workshops at Mackie Academy

17 November 2010
Lichen Literacy

Outdoor poetry activities for teaching literacy outdoors.

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Nature Detectives

1 November 2010
Nature Detectives

Immediately the MI5 agent within me woke up and sprung into action.

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Leaf loving literacy activities

22 October 2010
Literacy Leaf

Ideas for using leaves for outdoor literacy activities.

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Reading Books Outdoors

26 September 2010
Reading Books Outdoors

Children will happily explore books outside.

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A Poetry Walk at The Coombes School

21 July 2010
Poetry Walk

A simple idea for literacy outdoors with children.

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Word Cloud Possibilities Outside

5 July 2010
Blog Wordle

Which words would your wordle have?

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11 June 2010

Stones are a great outdoor learning resource.

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Outdoor Journeys into Language

14 May 2010
Literacy outdoors

Journeys, micro-journeys and literacy activities for outdoors.

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The Fibonacci Sequence and Nature

6 May 2010
The Star

Introducing Fibonacci to young children.

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Trolls, treasure and outdoor learning

6 February 2010
The Star

Trolls don’t see very well.

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Death, decay and new life

1 November 2009
Rosebay Willow Herb

Autumn – the dying season – is beautiful.

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Ambulatory Activities to Go

13 September 2009
Ambulatory Activities

Some ideas for activities while walking.

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Reading into the Outdoors

12 July 2009
The Star

Reading outside is common on holidays.

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Snow of wonder, snow of joy!

4 December 2008
The Star

Snow provides fantastic learning opportunities.

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