Five Ways to Practice Early Literacy: Neighborhood Walks

Posted about 2 weeks ago by Madison Eversoll
Posted in Book Reviews

With the weather warming up in Richmond, there are more opportunities to go outside and play. Taking a stroll through the neighborhood with your toddler is not only a great way to enjoy the spring weather, but also an excellent opportunity to incorporate early literacy activities into your daily routine! From letter hunts to storytelling, there are countless ways to turn a simple walk into a fun and educational adventure for your little one. There are so many fun and simple ways to practice early literacy skills while enjoying a walk and bonding with your toddler.

Letter Hunts

Turn your neighborhood walk into a scavenger hunt for letters! Encourage your toddler to search for letters of the alphabet in signs, storefronts, license plates, trash cans, and street signs. Point out letters as you spot them and help your child identify the letter names and sounds. You can make it even more exciting by keeping track of how many letters you find with stickers on a calendar!

Story Stones

Gather some small, smooth stones from your neighborhood or nearby park and use them to create story stones. Before your walk, draw simple pictures or symbols representing different characters, objects, or actions on the stones using markers or paint. During your walk, take turns picking out a stone and incorporating the image into a story. Encourage your toddler to use their imagination and creativity to tell stories inspired by the pictures on the stones. Can’t find any stones? That is okay, use toys instead!


Encourage your toddler to talk about their observations during the walk. Ask them about things they see, hear, smell, and touch; such as trees, flowers, birds, insects, and more. Encourage them to use descriptive language to describe their surroundings and ask open-ended questions to spark conversations about the natural world. This activity not only fosters early literacy skills but also promotes curiosity and appreciation for nature.

Rhyming Riddles

Challenge your toddler’s rhyming skills by creating simple rhyming riddles related to objects or landmarks you encounter during the walk. For example, “I’m something you wear on your head, and I rhyme with ‘cat.’ What am I?” Encourage your child to guess the answer and then brainstorm other words that rhyme with the correct answer. This activity not only reinforces phonemic awareness but also encourages critical thinking and vocabulary development.

Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Engage your toddler’s senses during the walk by organizing a sensory scavenger hunt. Create a list of items to find based on different textures, colors, shapes, and sounds. For example, “Find something rough,” “Spot something yellow,” “Point to something round,” or “Listen for a bird chirping.” Encourage your child to use descriptive words to describe each item they find and discuss how it feels, looks, or sounds.

Incorporating early literacy activities into your neighborhood walks is a fantastic way to make learning fun and interactive for your toddler. Whether you’re searching for letters, telling stories with story stones, or exploring nature through a sensory scavenger hunt, there are endless opportunities to engage your child’s curiosity and creativity while building essential literacy skills. So, the next time you head out for a stroll, don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure and playful spirit!

Madison Eversoll

Hi I'm Mx. Madison (they/them)! As a Youth Services Librarian, I am passionate about fostering a love of learning with children and teens. I especially enjoy finding new and easy ways to incorporate play into learning. Outside of story time, you can usually find me practicing arm balances around Richmond. I also enjoy taking pictures of flora and fauna at the river, creating with my Cricut, or making friends with the outdoor cats in Church Hill. My favorite books to read outside picture books are books that are fast moving and have campy horror/ final girls' themes.

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