“When the child pronounces the sounds of the consonants he experiences an obvious pleasure. This series of sounds so varied and so well known, which come to life in the presence of an enigmatic symbol like a letter of the alphabet, are a novelty for him. There is a mystery about it that arouses in him an intense interest.” ~ Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Outdoor play time is an important part of each day. Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, the weather in April typically means we can spend more of our day outside playing and learning. Lucky for us, there is no better classroom for children than what nature has to offer!

Playground Learning and Fun

We have several wonderful and well shaded playgrounds within walking distance of our home. Each offers something unique, e.g., a train structure, spring riders, butterfly gardens, soccer nets, etc. Others offer climbing and exploring structures for kids of all ages. With so many choices, there’s always an opportunity for playground learning and fun with our visiting friends and family.

Offering the Child a Choice

After hearing of these playground options, the “Frog Playground”  was requested by one young friend because of its frog spring-base riders. After a quick glance, he ran straight to the wooden play structure. Running ahead, he looked back and asked me to follow him to the slide, climbing rope, and tire swing. As I played along with him, I realized there was an opportunity to add a language twist to our fun.

Hide and Find Game

Before our playground adventure, we had played “Hide and Find” at home. This game had recently become a favorite activity using a set of ‘Go Fish’ alphabet playing cards.

To play, we had to “hide” them all around the room—and in very obvious places. 😉 Next, we had to “find” the cards and return them to a floor mat. We then made sure every card was paired. Finally, we identified the letter name and sound on each card.

Following the same pattern, we hid our ‘Go-together’ cards followed by the fifty states form our USA puzzle map, naming each as well. Clearly in a heightened sensitive period for language, I knew I could interest him in a game that involved letter sounds in the great outdoors!

Letter Learning Outside

I began by saying “I spy with my little eye something that begins with s … “, while making an exaggerated hissing sound*… He looked around and wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this game. Next I made the sound, ’S, s, s… slide!!” He then smiled and repeated “Slide!!” I continued with “I spy … a ‘f, f, fuh…Frog!!” and so on until we had named everything within our view.

When it was time to leave, he began to say “I spy with my little eye…”  We continued ‘spying’ all the way home. In between each object and letter, he would shout “Let’s do it again!!”. And that’s exactly what we did … all the way “huh, h, h, home”.

*Always introduce each beginning letter’s phonetic sound, not its name.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.