7 Ways to Grow a Reader on a Neighborhood Walk

I thought we were getting a little fresh air and burning off some preschool boy energy.  As long as there isn’t a windchill below zero or it is not pelting a pounding rain, we try to get outside every day.

What I didn’t realize is that with a few small tweaks we could kick our walks up a literacy notch.

Over the course of several neighborhood walks, we came up with 7 ideas to develop phonological awareness through playful conversations.  Let’s head outside and grow our readers!

Great, fun and easy phonological awareness ideas to do on a neighborhood walk with the kids.


7 Ideas to Grow a Reader

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1. Listening Walk

Ask your child to be very quiet and listen for sounds on your walk. When she hears a sound, have her name it.  This is a great way for your child to focus on listening and sounds.

You could even take a visual checklist of pictures that your child could listen for on the walk.  Teach Preschool has a free listening walk checklist that you can download.  Attach it to a clipboardwith a crayon and you are set. An alternative would be to have your child sit down and draw a picture of all the things that she hears.

2. Stick Clapping Syllables

tree sticks

Stick clapping is a fun hands-on way to determine parts (syllables) of a word. Have your child find two sticks.  Say a word and have your child clap the sticks together to identify the number of parts in the word.

For example, the word window has two parts ( win and dow).  Beginning with names of people in your family is a good place to start for this activity.  You could also use things that you see on your walk.

3. Beginning Sound Labeling

As you identify people, places and things on your walk, ask your child what sound he hears at the beginning of each word.  If you see a garage, your child would say /g/.

4. I Spy

sight beginning sounds on a neighborhood walk

Say, “I spy something that begins with /m/.” Let your child look around and guess the object. For /m/ it might be mailbox or mud. Take turns being the “caller” and the “finder.”

5. Animal Twisters

Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in a sentence. It is also known as a tongue twister. Identify an animal on your walk. Then, create a tongue twister with that same sound as the beginning sound of the animal. Let each person on the walk try to say the tongue twister. Who can say it the fastest?

Dusty dogs dig down deep.

6. Stretch it Like a Slinky

For this activity, you will say a short word such as a dog, bug, or cat. Have your child use their hands to stretch the word out like a slinky and say each sound he hears in the word.  Dog would be /d/, /o/, /g/.

7. Rhyme Time

Identify an object on your walk.  Then, brainstorm real or nonsense words that rhyme with your starter word.  So, if you see a car on your walk, you might say,”tar, far, bar, or jar.”

So kick those neighborhood walks up a notch.  Which one of these ideas to grow a reader will you try on your next walk around the neighborhood?

Now, it’s time to see more great ideas that relate to the neighborhood theme from my Early Childhood Educators team.  But, before you leave, do you get all the great literacy tips I send out each week?  Our newsletter is FREE.  Sign up HERE.

7 Ways to Grow a Reader on a Neighborhood Walk from Growing Book by Book

Community Helpers Bingo Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life

Word Family Houses from Rainy Day Mum

The Big Orange Splot Art Activity by Capri +3

Community Helpers Theme for Preschool: Bubbly Fires Science Activity! from The Preschool Toolbox

My Neighbourhood Preschool Math Color Sorting by Learning 2 Walk

Shapes in Our Neighborhood Book from Munchkins and Moms

Fireman Playdough Printable by Life Over C’s

Kid Made Neighborhood Blocks from Still Playing School

My Neighborhood Community Helpers Guess Who by Tiny Tots Adventures

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


  1. Such fun ideas – this is something that we’ve always done – I’m a none stop talker with my kids so we would combine literacy and numeracy activities on our walks around town and the neighbourhood.

  2. We love to play I Spy! Rhyming is a great idea!

  3. Our kids LOVE finding sticks. I love the idea of using them for syllables. We will have to try that.

  4. These are great ideas! We will definitely try these out on our walks!

  5. This is a great way to make a walk an educational adventure!

  6. I love all these whole life literacy ideas. The stick clapping syllables sounds like fun!
    I’m glad I found this on Good Tips Tuesday – pinned it!


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