Family Literacy Activities

Family literacy activities help build literacy awareness and result in a healthier community. To support families having fun learning together, we’ve gathered up the following literacy activity ideas and resources:

Non Computer Based Literacy Activities:

On the Go…

  • Letter Recognition: Have young children look at road signs and say what letters they recognize. If stopped, ask them to tell you what letters are on a specific sign, then tell them (if they can’t read) what the letters spell. As children become more advanced, ask them to sound the letters out and guess at the words.
  • Alphabet Scramble: Find all the letters of the alphabet (in the proper order) as you drive down the road. The first person to find all the letters—including q, x, and z—gets bragging rights.
  • Alphabet Dictionary: Starting with the letter A and moving to Z, have each person in the car give three words that begin with each letter. Each person must give new words and cannot build from words already given (i.e. ride cannot be used in another form (riding)). Hints can be provided for young players. Make it more challenging by asking participants to provide a definition.
  • Rhyme Time: Challenge children to find words that rhyme with each other. You might say “I am thinking of a word that rhymes with cat and starts with a ‘r’. What is it?” Make the rhymes harder depending on the age of your children. Older children will enjoy coming up with their own rhymes and challenging you to figure out what they are.
  • Count it Up: Help your children practise their counting skills. Identify something that you can count on your trip… a blue car, a red mail box, a license plate from another province… and beginning counting. At the end of the day, compare numbers to see who saw the most.

At Home…

  • Family Games Night: Let each family member choose their favourite board game, pop some popcorn, and sit down to a fun-filled evening of learning and laughter. Encourage everyone to read the instructions, keep score, count money… the options are endless.
  • Cook Together: Strap on your aprons, open your recipe books, gather your cooking tools, and bake a favourite cookie recipe or make a dinner together. Encourage your family to read the recipe, measure the ingredients, and follow the steps outlined. Nothing quite like linking literacy with food (particularly if you choose a favourite family treat).
  • Map it Out!: Planning a summer vacation? Pull out an atlas or some maps and work together to figure out how you are going to your destination. Encourage everyone to explore what can be done along the way (i.e. what activities are they interested in doing, places they want to visit, people they might want to see) then build this into the road trip. Enjoy the results when vacation time comes around and see the smiles on each family members face as they enjoy their chosen activity.
  • Share the Classics: As young children many parents enjoyed the classic stories of Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, or Little House on the Prairie. Borrow these books from your local library and read them together. Bring the story to life, but creating a favourite scene from the book with food, decorations, and music.
  • Create your own adventure story: Write a story about a recent vacation from the perspective of each family member. Be sure to add personal illustrations, photos, or interesting comics and observations. Compile it all and put it in a dou-tang. Then read it together and discuss where similarities and difference exist in how each person experienced the trip.
  • Complete a crossword puzzle: Find a crossword puzzle on a subject that everyone enjoys, then work together to solve it.
  • Scrapbook Stories: Gather your photos, write stories and descriptions to go with them, then use scrapbooking paper and a scrapbook to compile your very own families storybook. Once together, have everyone share what they’ve written, why they chose the picture, and what it means to them. You might be surprised at what each person feels is memorable.
  • Visit Timbuktu or Tasmania: Visit your local library and have your children choose a place they’d like to visit. Using the resources available in the library, gather travel books, maps, videos, and any other resources you can find, bring them home and enjoy an evening of exploring without the cost of a vacation! For an added piece, have each person create a postcard, write on the back about their “trip” and their next destination, then bring them out in two weeks to start a new adventure.

Online Resources:

Little Bird Tales: a FREE online resource that lets you and your child create an online book using family photo’s, children’s drawings, and your child’s own voice.

  • If you and your child create a book and would like to share it, email the URL on Little Bird Tales and we’ll upload it to our site.

GCFLearning Free: free online learning site that has a variety of useful tutorials and games

  • Reading: games and activities that build reading comprehension in a fun way
  • Math: goes over basic math concepts in a fun and entertaining way
  • Everyday activities: day to day activity tutorials, such as following a recipe or filling in a time sheet that help build literacy skills

Bedtime Stories for Kids: website with links to all kinds of bedtime stories such as story collections, classic tales, favourite characters, and audio books.

Printable Resources:

ABC Life Literacy Canada provides some quick and easy ways to build literacy activities into your daily activities. Here are a few of our favourites:

National Adult Literacy Database: range of resources for family literacy, including:

  • Bedtime Stories: written and created by SIAST Kelsey Campus Literacy Program participants to promote family literacy
  • Baby Book: blank baby book that allows the parents to print it out and fill it in.
  • Story of the Week: adult learners from across Canada share their stories. Check back each Monday for a new story, or browse through the archives.

Northwest Territories Literacy: great Family Resource Kits that span a variety of literacy activities and provide “how to’s” specific to each topic. Covers wide range of ages & interests.

 Found great resources you’d like to share? Send us an email at coordinator{at} We welcome the community’s contributions.





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