15 Literacy Activities To Create Reading Rockstars

My kids are reading rockstars.  I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but it’s true, and I love it.  Jax falls asleep every night under a mountain of books that he just had to read before bed, and this past year Em’s reading has really flourished.  I think it has something to do with being the big sister in her bedroom and wanting to read Little H bedtime stories.  She always wants to read the Piggy parts in our beloved Mo Willems “Piggy and Gerald” books, and tries so hard to decode even the toughest word.  She is going to be so confident when she walks into kindergarten next year, knowing that the world of letters and words are her allies, not daunting strangers.  And how did my kids become so passionate about reading?  Well, our house is very conducive to encouraging Reading Rockstars, but mostly we all just love to read and have a lot of fun doing it!

So since this is a passion of mine, I cannot keep all these awesome literacy ideas to myself. I figured I’d put some of my favorites in one place where you can access them easily and see that there are so many ways to engage kids in reading and letters.  If you make it fun, they will join in eagerly!

So here are 15 of my favorite ways to create Rockstar Readers.  Enjoy, and  don’t forget to pin away!

1.  Have a reading picnic!  Grab a blanket, some snacks, a big box of books and a spot in the shade or in front of the fireplace.  A great way to promote literacy for the entire family!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

2.  Organize an ABC Scavenger Hunt.  Draw up a map of your home and hide the letters to your child’s name.  By numbering the locations on the map you can help kids who don’t know how to spell their name yet put their letters in the correct order, or just star the locations and let them assemble the word themselves!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

3.  Paint Chip Reading Fun.  Kids can help develop their rhyming skills and identify words families with this colorful way to decode words!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Paint Chip Reading Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

4.  Draw letters in salt or flour.  Awesome for fine motor skills and letter recognition!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Tracing letters and words in salt or flour!

5.  Build letters and words with toothpicks and marshmallows!  And when you’re done, they’re good enough to eat!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Building With Marshmallows @ Rub Some Dirt On It

6.  Give them a journal and help them write stories or do science experiments together.  The act of putting words in some kind of book will help give their ideas significance.  And they will love to go back and reread them over and over!

  15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Oh so many amazing things to do with a journal!

7.  Create a butcher paper map.  We have made maps of our town, maps of zoos, maps of castles and a kingdom, maps for military exercises (G.I. Joe came up with that one).  You name it, we’ve drawn it, and with all the labeling that comes with maps, your kids are going to be able to read words like “school,” “street,” and “bridge” faster than you can write them!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! butcher paper maps have so many possibilities!

8.  Spelling Puzzles!  Flip over a puzzle and build some simple words.  The trick is being able to reassemble it using the letters on the back!  Highlight the words to decrease difficulty.

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Spelling Puzzles @ Rub Some Dirt On It

9.  Make a game of it with Sight Words Mix-Up Cups.  It’s one part learning, one part game!  Who can resist those odds?

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Sight Words Mix-Up Cups to turn reading into a game!

10.  Match upper and lower letters (or build compound words) with plastic Easter eggs!  One set of eggs, two great ideas!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Match upper and lower case letters using plastic Easter Eggs!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Build compound words using plastic Easter Eggs!

11.  Get those winter wiggles out with a rousing game of Word Slam!  Tape words to a wall and when you call one out, the kids get to SLAM them with a ball!  Jax loved this!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Slam with Rub Some Dirt On It

12.  Write the alphabet on clothespins and kids will spend hours matching them to their appropriate letters on flashcards.  Make it more difficult by writing in upper case on one set, and lower case on another!  Lots of different ways to use them on this link!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

13.  Go on a Spelling Treasure Hunt!  Help your kid spell a word, then they have to go on a hunt through the house to find an example!  Keep them moving and interested!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Go on a spelling scavenger hunt!

14.  Follow the link to learn all about the Word Family Driving Game, where vehicles and reading collide!  You could do the same thing with just letters if your child is too young for reading but is crazy about all things that go!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Family Driving Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It for all kids who love things that go!

On the same post you can learn how to reuse those hearts and create a game to get kids hopping, skipping and jumping while they read!  They’ll never know they’re learning–they’ll be so busy having fun!  Two great ideas for the price of one post!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Learn Spelling and Sounds with Movement!

15.  ABC’s: Animal Style!  It’s simple!  Match the animals to the first letter of their name!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Match animals to their letters!

Phew!  So many great ideas, so little time!  You’re on your way to helping your kids love to read, and to enjoy learning, too!  Be sure to pin all these ideas for later so you don’t forget any!  I can’t wait to revisit some of them myself later today!

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As a mom of three young kids, most of the time, quiet can be a bad thing.  My mommy senses go into overdrive and I wonder, What are they up to that they don’t want to bring to my attention?  I sneak around the corner, peek into their room, prepared to see every Lego and their carefully organized bins strewn across the floor (which is often the case), but on lucky days, I am greeted with quiet sweetness in the form of my kids reading quietly, totally absorbed in their own little world.


Every literacy book I have read praises the importance of having a print-rich environment at home, and that definitely describes us!  For a family of five in a pretty small house, we certainly have books stacked up in every nook and cranny.  It guess it’s easier to get motivated to read when you can’t take two steps without stumbling across Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, or Mo Willems!


Reading in bed is a big part of our day, too.  Even JDubbs and I like to unwind this way.

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It sure makes my heart happy to see my kids loving to read as much as I do!  I guess that old saying is true–“Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.”  Probably the greatest gift we ever gave them, and one I plan to share with them for the rest of our lives.

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Light Reading

Because it’s never too early for the classics.

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Hey, there’s a reason Em’s middle name is Jane and I lobbied hard for Little H to be Eliza!  Such is life when your mom is an English teacher on hiatus!  There’s no doubt she’s my girl!

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Coin Sorting Fun

One of my fondest memories as a child on Easter was the chaotic egg hunts we used to have in my Nana’s backyard.  There were usually at least ten cousins on hand, and it was a cross between good-natured fun and survival of the fittest.  Picture the Cornucopia scene in the Hunger Games with Easter bonnets and you get the idea.  Why was it such a competition?  Because those eggs were not full of chocolate–they were full of money: spare change, really, but there was one egg with at least a five dollar bill, if not more.  So while we understood Easter was about Jesus rising from the dead, we also knew that we better scuff up those brand new white mary janes so that we wouldn’t have a disadvantage against our cousins on Easter morning for a chance to have the most cash for penny candy.

As dysfunctional as all that sounds, it was FUN and thus I pass along this quirky tradition to my kids every year.  There is nothing that they love more than sorting coins and putting them in their piggy bank.  My dad and Jax have a game they like to play where they check out the dates of coins and sort them by year, giving certain ones “birthday parties.”  Jax eats it up and it’s one of his favorite parts about visiting Grammy and Grampy’s.  Sometimes he brings the change home with him, and on those occasions, we have to pull out everyone’s piggy banks to add to them, but really they just want to pull all their change out and sort them by size and color.  Is that weird?

So I knew when I saw this great coin sorting idea here that I had to give it a try with their Easter money.  And you know what?  They absolutely LOVED it.  In fact, I was forbidden from throwing the sorting paper away!

Coin Sorting Math Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So all you need to do is, using a big piece of paper, draw big circles where kids can put their dimes, quarters, pennies, and nickels separately.  I wrote the symbol and word above each circle so that could get used to recognizing both.

Coin Sorting @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I started them off by putting one of each different coins in the circles so they could compare the colors and sizes as they went along, but really, they were content to do this on their own quietly and for a really long time, figuring out what belonged where and helping each other out.

IMG_0121 Coin Sorting Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It IMG_0139

Little H woke up and joined the fun, and before my mom has a heart attack about the baby swallowing pennies, I promise she was only allowed to stay as long as she had her binkie in her mouth!


She loves the sound of the change clanging inside the piggy bank as much as the others!

The kids noticed some cool things while doing this–like how some quarters have eagles and some have states.  They found a bunch of random “special” coins (money from other countries, pennies that have been flattened in those tourist machines) and they decided those needed a circle of their own.


And finally we talked about what would be the fastest way to count all the money.  I gave a quick explanation of multiplication, and although they definitely didn’t get it, they were at least impressed with how quickly I could figure out the sums!


I don’t know how much they learned, but they were sorting, counting, comparing, and having a blast all the while!  This is the perfect rainy day activity for all ages, and I promise you, other than interesting questions, your kids will be so engrossed with this activity you may even have time to put your feet up and enjoy some of that leftover Easter chocolate you have lying around!

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Plastic Eggs For Literacy (Repost)

 Yes, I am reposting this from last year, not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m pretty damn proud of these great literacy and math ideas!  Not to mention color recognition, fine motor skills…you get the point.  Read on and be glad you did, preschool parents.

(2013) The other day Em and I were putting away groceries when she discovered a bag of plastic Easter eggs that I had saved with some preschoolish activities in mind and forgotten.  So I pulled them out and repeated an activity I did with Jax a couple years back that was such a hit, I knew she’d enjoy it.

Easter Egg Literacy Games @ Rub Some Dirt On It

First I created a matching game by writing upper case and lower case letters on either side of an egg, then breaking them apart.  Her job was to scan all the eggs and find a match.


Some potential mishaps to be aware of: lower case y and h look a lot alike when turned upside down.  Probably should have made them different colors to help her notice they are not the same.


 Also, lower case b, p, q, and g are easily confused–make sure you choose different color eggs for each.  Same for w and m.


In the end you will have a rainbow of literacy that will be as much a reward for you as for them!  It’s quite an achievement!

Now when big brother came home, I had put a few eggs aside as a challenge for him (with a little fine motor skills work thrown in as a bonus).  We have made compound word eggs in the past, but this time I had a couple different ideas–number literacy and rhyming.

For Jax, I put numbers on either side of an egg, so that when I called out a number he could spin it to find the correct number.  Really helps for the confusion of “Is thirty-one 1-3 or 3-1?”


And another fun thing to do–similar to the Word Family Driving Game we played this winter–is to put the ending of common words (like -op, -ar, -it, -at) on one side of the egg and a list of letters that form a word on the other side.  These words are all in the same word family and rhyme, which is a fun and important skill to play with.


Rhyming Eggs @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All this upcycled fun with eggs you would have thrown away anyhow, or can pick up for a quarter the week after Easter!  Enjoy some time with your little ones, learning as you go!

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Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

Pulled out an old favorite last week–looking for rainbows inside before it was warm enough to go looking for them ourselves outside!

Hunting Rainbows @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Here’s how you do it.  You write the names of all colors across a sheet of paper, and then give the kids a time limit to find as many colorful objects that they can.  You know I love a touch of literacy as an added bonus.


Anything with a timer makes even the simplest game more fun!


Little H happened to have a lot of rainbow-colored blocks and toys handy so it wasn’t exactly challenging, but they liked it all the same.




Colors, shapes, counting (which pile has most? which pile has least? why do we have so many purple and red things?) and reading all rolled into one activity.  With three kids at home while Jax has vacation this week, we may have to try this again very soon!

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Paint Chip Reading Fun

I saw a post about using paint chips for literacy over on Babble and I have been waiting to grab some at Home Depot for a while.  Luckily, we’re doing a bedroom makeover so I’ve found myself in various home improvement stores more often than usual lately!

Paint Chip Reading Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All I needed was some paint chips that have several shades of colors on one sheet and some long solid color ones.


You add the ending sound to the solid paint chip, then put a bunch of beginning sounds on the long one (one sound per color).  The kids put them together to form words.

Paint Chip Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Your reader slides the vertical paint chip through the window you cut in the solid color one, sounding out each new word as she goes.  Em loved the colors; it definitely helped motivate her to participate.  She really liked the sliding aspect of it as well.


Unfortunately I didn’t count on something she loves much more than reading–snipping!  As I’ve said before, Em love to cut, so those beautiful white lines were just calling her name, and it wasn’t long before she had cut all my paint chips to pieces.  Oh, well, just another way to play with her fine motor skills!  At least we could talk about what sounds the letters make as she went along!

Remember to get several long solid paint chips for all your different endings!  We did -at, -an, it-, and -og.  The beginning sounds worked for all the different endings, and sometimes they made silly nonsense words.  That’s half the fun!

Keep reading fun this spring!

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