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Active Reading
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2
By: Elizabeth Thompson

An outdoor activity to reinforce the alphabet using several small activities.


To reinforce students' knowledge of the alphabet.


Plaster of Paris, cold water, jumprope(s), sandwich size ziplock baggies, 3 oz. paper cups, playground equipment (slides, swings, tunnels, etc.), rubber ball (approx. softball size)


This is designed so that you can use any activities that you want, whether it is just one or all of them.

Activity 1 - Sidewalk Chalk
Pre class prep - Put 2 3oz cups full of the plaster of paris into each ziplock baggie (make enough for every student to have their own. Each student will need 2 of the paper cups to finish the activity. Also plan for each student to be able to get 3oz of cold water. You will want to have scissors also. (but you should be the only one with a pair) Plan on the students mixing everything outside (much less cleanup).

Step 1 - Hand out the baggies with the plaster mix inside. Then have each student carefully add the water into the baggie. (Food coloring can be added if you wish, but it could stain clothing if spilled.) Mix everything is slightly runny.

Step 2 - Snip off a lower corner of the baggie and squeeze the contents into the paper cups. Once the cups are filled, throw away the baggies and let the cups sit out of the sun for about 3 hours.

Step 3 - Have your class write their alphabet on the sidewalk or on blacktop away from traffic.

Activity 2 - Nature Walk
Pre class prep - Make sure that you have the appropriate permission forms to take your students away from the school. Otherwise, do this on the playground. Don’t plan a very long walk, as students may tend to become distracted or overly tired.

Step 1 - As you walk, have students point out things they see that start with the letter A... apple, ants B... baseball, bees C... car, cat etc.

Step 2 - Have students help you make a list of things that they saw.

Activity 3 - Jump Rope to the Alphabet
Pre class prep - Acquire jump ropes. (You can either have each student have one, or you can have them in groups of three - 2 twirlers and a jumper.) Before you go out and buy a large number of jump ropes, see if you can borrow some from the phys. ed class or from the recess supplies.

Step 1 - Pass out the jump ropes and tell the students (if in groups) who is in their group.

Step 2 - Use the favorite version of the alphabet song as a jump rope rhyme and see how far the kids can jump before messing up.

Activity 4 - Catch the Alphabet
Pre class prep - Find a soft ball of this size and make sure that there is sufficient area for the ball to be thrown without breaking anything.

Step 1 - Make sure that the student is paying attention and throw the ball to him/her and have them say A.

Step 2 - As the student catches the ball, they must say the next letter of the alphabet. Continue this pattern until the entire alphabet has been gone through. If the wrong letter is said then they must start the alphabet again. If they make it through the alphabet quickly, add the rule that if the ball is dropped then they must also start over.

Activity 5 - Musical Playground
Pre class prep - Mark certain areas of the playground equipment as vowels, the rest is consonants. Make certain that the students know the difference between vowels and consonants. Also label any playground equipment that might be dangerous if a student tried to move away too quickly.

Rules of the game - Teacher is in control of the music. When the music stops, the students should move quickly to the vowel or consonant area - if the song is stopped on a vowel, then they should go to a vowel area, if it stops on a consonant then they should go to a consonant.

Step 1 - Explain all of the rules to the students. Tell them any areas that are off limits and where the letter boundaries are.

Step 2 - Play the game until the students tire or the day is over.


I hope that you and your students enjoy these activities. I'm a freshman education major who is doing volunteer work at a nearby elementary school.


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