Grab a squirt bottle and some chalk and take learning outside with this fun outdoor alphabet game for preschoolers.
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The weather is warming up, and that means we’re taking our learning outside! Hooray for sunshine!
Last week I set up a little outdoor alphabet game for my preschooler to practice identifying letters and making letter sounds. It’s super simple, and we had a great time playing and learning together on a Friday afternoon.
Best of all, to do this activity you don’t have to set up anything in advance. Just grab a spray bottle with water and some sidewalk chalk, and head outside for some fun learning time!
The basic idea of this outdoor alphabet game is that you write letters on the ground in a random order. (For more advanced kids, you can write the whole alphabet. If you’re playing with beginners, just write 6-8 letters at a time.) When I played with my three year old, I wrote letters A-G for our first set. He was having so much fun that we decided to keep going, and I ended up creating three groups of letters total to get through the whole alphabet.
Once the letters were on the ground, I handed him a spray bottle and asked him, “Can you squirt the letter A to make it disappear?” He hunted around, found it, and got to work squirting away. We used a large (clean) spray bottle that just had water in it (similar here). For younger toddlers, I would recommend a smaller spray bottle, like this one (you can often find them in stores next to the travel toiletries). You could also use a squirt gun…or whatever else you have lying around that can squirt water.
I had planned to just call out random letters for him to find, but my preschooler insisted that we needed to go in alphabetical order. It didn’t really matter, so I followed his lead. We sang the ABC song as we went to figure out which letter should be next.
As he squirted the letters, we talked about the sounds that letter can make and brainstormed words that start with those sounds.
This activity took no prep beforehand, and it became a sweet moment of connection and play with my little guy that day. It was the perfect way to spend a half hour on a sunny afternoon.
Want to play, too? Here are the full instructions for this simple, fun alphabet game.
Squirt the Letter
Outdoor Alphabet Game
What we’re learning
- Letter identification
- Letter sounds
- Fine motor skills (pulling that trigger is hard work…and great for developing writing muscles)
- Sidewalk chalk
- Spray bottle or squirt gun with water
- An outdoor space with a hard surface (like a patio or driveway)
How to play
- Set up the game by writing alphabet letters on the ground in any random order.
- Give your child the spray bottle and invite them to “erase” the letters one at a time. Keep squirting letters until all the letters have been obliterated. Depending on your child’s skill level and interest, you can do this in a variety of ways:
- Start with “A” and squirt each letter in standard alphabetical order, searching among the letters to find the next right one.
- Call out a random letter (like “B”), encourage your child to find and squirt it. Then call out another random letter (like “E”).
- Bring some alphabet flashcards outside with you and make a deck to draw letters from.
- Rather than writing the whole alphabet at once, try starting with just 6-8 letters. If your child is still interested after squirting those, add more! (My 3-year-old insisted on doing the whole alphabet, but we did it in 3 chunks.) If your child is proficient in identifying the alphabet, go ahead and challenge them by including the whole alphabet!
- As your child squirts, talk together about what sounds the letter makes. We also had fun thinking of words that started with that letter. For example, “Yes, that’s J. J as in JUMP…or…JELLYFISH…or…What can you think of?”
- Have more advanced kiddos? Try doing a similar activity using sight words instead of letters.
- Instead of writing letters on the ground, try writing them on a fence or with window markers on a sliding glass door. (Just be sure that your chalk/marker won’t stain the material.)
Want more outdoor learning ideas? Try these!
- Fun sidewalk chalk games to play outside
- Preschool Scavenger Hunts: 5 Ways to Play
- How to make a human sundial + more fun shadow activities
- Rocket ship rescue: a preschool alphabet game