Thursday, 25 May 2017

Forest phonics fun in Bushy Park

Jane pointing to animals on a sign

I can't really believe Jane will be starting school in September. But there is no doubt she is ready for it. Perhaps having two older brothers has encouraged her but there is no doubt she is a girl that enjoys learning.  In a way she is always being taught to.  Her brother, David, is autistic and pre-verbal so we spend time shaping sounds and now looking at letters.  When Jane and I were walking around Bushy Park this week, she found a 'stick letter'.  And then had fun looking for letters and sounds as an impromtu activity that you can try too.

We are already the kind of family that hangs out on street corners while David draws over all the letters on the sign posts.  So we have a good idea of different letters and their sounds or phonics. Whilst scooting along the easy forest path between the snack stop at the main car park and sand pit playground, Jane stopped to pick up what she called an 'rrrrrrr stick' that looked like a small letter 'r'.

As we were standing near one of the information signs, we went over to have a look and spotted some things on the sign that started with an 'rrrr' sound, including a 'reindeer' (technically I think it would have be a fallow deer but still a star for getting the right sound) and a rabbit (also possibly a hare!).  We talked about the other kind of things that there could be in the park that started with 'rrrr' and this included a 'river', 'robin' and 'frrrrrog' because didn't I know there was an 'rrrrrr' in it?

Jane spelled using sticks on the grass

Once we'd finished our rather piratey sounding conversation we went to look for other stick and forest letters too. We thought of letters to find and this meant thinking about the shape of them.  For example an 'a' is round with a tail, and a 'j' has a dot on top.  Bushy Park is a bit smaller than Richmond Park and sits on the boarder of Richmond and Surrey and we go there all the time.  We've had fun with this activity a few times since and I have to say it's a bit of a highlight to the day.

This was great fun and could be really engaging for kids who may struggle in other settings.  David would definitely trace over the letters we found and it will encourage kids who enjoy sensory items, feeling the different materials and physically moving about.  If you'd like to play some forest phonics fun like we did in Bushy Park, here's what you can do to:
  • Talk about what letters look like and what things in the garden / wood / park are that shape?
  • Look for letters and sound them out
  • Look around for things that start with phonic sounds like, 'tu' 'rrrr' etc
  • Make phonic / letter shapes and sound them out
  • Use things to write out names or objects and sound them out
What fun things do you learn out in the forest


  1. This is so great I always encourage parents to keep an eye out for sounds everywhere. Your daughter is right too rrrrr is in frog, very smart girl! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  2. What a cute idea to look for stick letters! I taught my 3 oldest to read all just by pointing out letters, sounding them out, and answering natural questions that came up as we were reading. Sounds like you're doing a great job! #ablogginggoodtime

  3. Ahh! What fun! It sounds like a brilliant way to learn.
    Your girl sounds like a very bright girl x

  4. Sounds like a fun trip out! My son starts school in September and has just started taking an interest in letters and phonics so we play a lot of games like this! Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  5. I like the sound of finding stick letters - what a fun idea. Will have to try this one with my girls :-) #WotW

    1. Thank you for linking this up to #ftmob too :-)

  6. What a great idea! learning outside sounds like fun too x

  7. I remember the fun we used to have with phonics games in the most ordinary places. It's true that you can have fun with just sticks and 'treasure' from walks! #wotw

  8. Stick letters are a great idea. My daughter is in reception class at the moment x

  9. Love these ideas and activities!

  10. What fun activity ideas! And a great way to incorporate nature into learning!

  11. This is a handy little post - thanks for sharing. I'm bookmarking for quick reference. My Little Man is starting school in September too - where does the time go?! Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, I hope to see you back next week :)

  12. it is great that they take learning outdoors now

  13. I love this so much, Number One has always loved letters and word games too, I'm sure she would love this activity. We will be giving it a go next time we're out for a walk #PostsFromTheHeart

  14. This is a great idea especially as it marries two of my boy's favourite things; letters and the outdoors. Will definitely be doing this on our next walk. Thanks for joining in #littlemakes

  15. Children grow up so quickly. You don't believe it when people say it to you for the first time but it's true. I love that she's learning from her whole family and the concept of forest phonics is certainly a lot of fun. #littlemakes

  16. Great idea! I'd never thought of this! Love your photos of this! #littlemakes


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