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  • Writer's pictureJanay Neufeld

10 Early Literacy Activities to do with kids on the Go, Supporting Busy Parents

Are you a busy parent wanting to build your child's early literacy skills but need help figuring out where to start? Look no further. This blog is just for you!

Early literacy skills are vital for a child's reading development because they set the foundation for academic success and foster a lifelong love of reading. As parents, we play an essential role in providing our children with early exposure to literature that can help create a strong reading foundation. According to a National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) study, six vital skills predict later literacy success. Therefore, in a child's early years, they must be exposed to the following:

  1. Alphabet knowledge: knowing the names and sounds associated with the letters of the alphabet. ,

  2. Phonological awareness: having word awareness by distinguishing separate sounds in words (syllables, phonemes, segmenting words, etc.)

  3. Rapid automatic naming of letters or digits: Ability to quickly name random letters or numbers.

  4. Rapid automatic naming of objects or colors: Ability to quickly name random things (house, tree, stop sign, car, etc.) or colors.

  5. Writing or writing their name: ​Ability to write specific letters when asked at random or write their own name.

  6. Phonological memory: To remember spoken information for a short time.

Janay Neufeld of My Online Reading Tutor shares six early reading skills that predict later literacy success

Incorporating various fun and engaging activities that support these six vital skills into your daily routine can be a great way to help your child develop essential pre-reading skills and build your child's vocabulary.

This blog will explore fun ways to promote early literacy skills in young children while busy parents are on the go! It is specially curated for busy parents who want to incorporate fun literacy activities into their child's life while on the go.

This blog does contain affiliate links for your convenience. I do make a small commission from any purchases made.

1. Sing Songs Together:

Singing songs together (or nursery rhymes) is an excellent way to expose children to new words and learn about rhyme, repetitive phrases, and betters early language skills. Singing songs and nursery rhymes is a fun and easy way to build literacy skills together during your busy lives because it can be done at bathtime while waiting for a doctor's appointment or in the car. The possibilities are endless, but singing together creates a powerful connection between language and enjoyment, making learning engaging and fun.

Sound books are an excellent way to expose your child to print, songs, and proper use of a book (holding it, knowing where to find the book cover, how to turn the pages, etc.), and it's super fun and engaging for them to push the buttons and sing along!

ABC & 123 Learning Songs: Interactive Children's Sound Book: This author has made several similar books, from Christmas songs to bedtime songs and more. I've linked this book because my daughter has this one and loves it! It's great entertainment for her in the car and on the go.

Ditty Bird Children's Songs: This is another great book where children can push the buttons on the page, and it will play a song.

There are also many great podcasts you can download that have great songs for children that you can utilize on the go, such Noodle Loaf, Toddler Tunes, and Storytime Anytime to name a few.

Janay Neufeld of My Online Reading Tutor recommends children's music podcasts for kids

2. Children's Books and Picture Books:

Make story time a part of your daily routine. Start young readers with sturdy board books or books that can't rip (linked below). Allowing them to handle the books can also help them develop fine motor skills. Bath time is also great for writing letters or looking at waterproof books. My daughter loves looking at her Melissa and Doug Dolphin Book in the bath

There's a really cool book series of 45 books called Indestructibles. They are means for kids to handle in the rough and tough manner they typically do! They are chew-proof, tearproof, waterproof, and 100% washable.

Young readers will enjoy for you to read aloud to them, and children gain a lot of skills from their parent's reading aloud to them. It is excellent for their cognitive development as it builds their vocabulary and teaches them proper fluency and expression. Older kids enjoy being read aloud to or reading chapter books with their parents. You can take turns reading chapters or each page. No matter the age, expose them to a wide range of children's and picture books that align with your child's interests. A daily reading routine is one of the most important ways to help your child develop a love of reading. Plus, it requires involvement with family members and builds a deep, strong connection with your child.

Reading engaging, exciting, or interactive books at home with your child can be fun. I have linked a book my daughter enjoys below because it might even motivate the most reluctant readers!

Shine-a-Light Series: This is a fun series to make reading come alive with great excitement and joy. When you flash light on the pages, secret images appear! There are 23 books in the series, and endless amounts of fun to be had!

3. Play I Spy

Playing eye spy can be a great way to engage with environmental print, develop observation skills, letter recognition, contextual learning, phonemic awareness, vocabulary building, and cognitive abilities. Get creative with it and ask your child to spy something with a specific initial sound, alliteration ("I spy a word that begins with the same sound as an apple"), spy a word that rhymes, specific letters, objects, or words (when they get more advanced).

Also, when you are out and about at the grocery store and partaking in other real-life everyday activities, look for opportunities to introduce your child to new vocabulary or point out letters or words that they are learning on something as simple as your grocery list. Point out familiar items at the grocery store, street signs, etc., and help your child connect real-life experiences and language development.

4. Play Alphabet Hunt

This game is a classic and one that I remember playing as a kid on long road trips. As you drive in the car, look for signs, billboards, license plates, etc., that display each letter of the alphabet, starting with A, and the first one to make it all the way to Z wins.

You can also buy a game like Road Rally or Games on the Go, where all the fun is already mapped out for you!

5. Word Games

Playing word games builds a child's pre-literacy skills and beyond. Some of my favorites are as follows:

  • I'm Going on a Picnic: To play this game, say, "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm taking ______." Start with the letter A, then the next person will repeat what the first said for A and add food for the letter B, and you will work together to get down to the letter Z. This game is a great way to pass the time in the car, build early literacy skills, and make fun memories together! This game can also be played as a safari or zoo version. For example, "I am going on a safari. I'm going to see a __________."

  • Finish that Rhyme: Nursery rhymes are a great way to practice phonemic awareness skills with your child. While in the car or on the go, you can start saying a nursery line and leave the last word on a line open by pausing and letting your child complete the sentence. For example, "Humpty Dumpty sat on the ______. Humpty Dumpty had a great ______." Point out that "wall" has the same ending sound as "fall" and see if they can create words that rhyme with that pair. If they aren't quite there yet, say the nursery rhyme and see if they can hear two words with the same ending sound. If they can't do that, say, "Listen as I repeat it for a word that has the same ending sound as wall."

  • You can also ask them simple rhyming questions like, "How many words can you think of that rhyme with bat?" And continue asking them other words when they run out of ideas. It's harder for children to think of their own words that rhyme than tell you whether or not two words rhyme, so consider how much you want to challenge them.

You can also allow your child to play word-to building games, dry-erase boards, or magnetic letters while driving in the car. Like the ones linked below:

Overall, create a playful environment for learning the letters of the alphabet. Always encourage your child to explore their curiosity and creativity through open-ended questions.

6. Technology and Audio Recordings:

You can use educational apps, PBS Kids, Storyline Online, or audio recordings or videos of books to enhance your child's literacy skills. These resources appeal to various learning styles and provide exposure to new books and the English language.

Reading Apps:

Epic: A digital library with books for all reading levels!

ABCMouse: Reading activities, songs, books, and more.

Starfall: Reading games, books, videos, and more.

Teach Your Monster to Read: Free Reading games.

PBS Kids: This is a great website that provides reading games for kids, resources for parents, read-alouds, and much more for families to practice their literacy skills at home for free.

Storyline Online: This is a great website that records celebrities reading books. The videos have great illustrations, and the actors really make the stories come alive! They are great because they show subtitles as they read so the child can follow along or build word awareness. I used to use it in my second-grade classroom all the time, and my students loved it! It can be great to implement into your daily reading routine to make reading more exciting or switch it up occasionally.

7. Pretend Play

Your child must partake in pretend play and finger play activities. They promote early literacy, cognitive development, critical thinking, and fine motor skills. Teach your child the hand movements for nursery rhymes like the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Patty Cake. You can also promote finger play by ordering a set of finger puppets like the ones below. My daughter also has a magnet board like the one below, where she can make her own scenes and use her imagination to create her own stories on a road trip. Both can be great activities to pass the time when you are traveling!

8. Ask Questions

Take the time to ask your child questions about the books they are reading. Asking questions before, during, and after reading is crucial for a child's development and learning. Before reading, it helps to activate their prior knowledge and set expectations. During reading, it encourages them to engage with the text, make predictions, and clarify any confusion. After reading, it reinforces comprehension, helps to develop critical thinking skills, and promotes discussion. By incorporating questioning techniques, parents can enhance their child's reading experience, improve their literacy skills, and foster a love of reading.

Download my free printable document with ideas of questions you can ask your child before, during, and after reading by clicking the button below

9. Make Stories of Your Own

Make homemade books at home or ask your child to make an alternative ending up with a story you listen to on audiobook or read together. Let them use their imagination and build their critical thinking skills. I sometimes use a deck of cards like the one below to get a child's juices flowing and get the process started of making their own story.

10. Hire a Reading Tutor

Hiring a reading tutor like myself is one of the best ways to ensure early readers are being introduced to the content they need to succeed in reading in the long run. Since all my sessions are done online via Zoom, it prevents parents from having to do drop off and pick-ups in their already busy schedule.

My clients admit that it's so nice to have the time set aside each week, and it takes the stress off their shoulders knowing that their child is getting individual attention and lessons built for their specific needs and interests.

I have students log on for lessons on vacations and at sleepovers, and I can accommodate them no matter what is going on in their busy lives. If you are interested in hiring an online reading specialist and getting the tutoring process started today, click the button below to sign up for a FREE Reading Assessment.


We, as parents, play a key role in our child's early literacy skills. This can be overwhelming with all the other responsibilities we have going on in our lives. But Implementing these fun activities while you are on the go will help develop strong literacy skills for your child and build a love for reading that will last a lifetime.

Parent involvement in your child's learning is vital to their later success as a reader. Become involved in their reading progress, fill your home with many different types of books, take them to the library to expose them to new ones, ask questions about the stories they read, and have fun discovering books together.

Let your child take the lead and adapt to their specific interests. Let them pick their own book when reading time comes, and it will keep them motivated and excited about reading. Be sure to celebrate your child's progress and model having a positive attitude towards reading and taking on challenging tasks such as reading. Your child looks up to you, and if you show that reading is important, they will also recognize it. Have fun with it, bond, laugh, provide a literacy-rich environment, and create fun memories together. You've got this!

If you find these reading resources helpful or have any additional questions, please leave a comment on the blog. I am here to help!

Happy Reading!

About the Author

Janay Neufeld is an online reading specialist and confidence coach for kids. Her unique approach can help children worldwide increase their confidence and reading skills with positive mindset training, helping them reach their full potential!

She has ten years of experience helping children feel like skilled, confident readers. She has her multiple-subject teaching credential, Orton Gillingham trained through the Institute for Multi-sensory Education, and she has a Master of Arts in Education. She is also certified as a life coach for kids through Adventures in Wisdom.

Does your child need help with reading? Click the button below to sign up for a FREE Reading Assessment to get the tutoring process started today!

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