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Families enjoy tobogganing during the fresh Christmas snowfall at Riverdale Park East in Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 25, 2020. REUTERS/Chris HelgrenCHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries. Let’s Talk Science offers a number of fun activities to get youth engaged in STEM.

Family literacy helps reinforce the importance of learning with children as a way of building the knowledge necessary for future skills. All early literacy activities – including oral storytelling, singing and talking with kids – deliver huge benefits.

ABC Life Literacy Canada has set the theme of this year’s Family Literacy Day (January 27) as “Learning in The Great Outdoors.” It’s a great reminder to all of us that families can support early literacy development just about anywhere. Here are some fun and free activities to try outdoors together.

Fun Family Literacy Activity ideas

1. On a walk to the bus, talk about what you see, pointing out how white and fluffy the snow is, or that the tree branches are bare. Get your child thinking and talking by saying: “This pinecone is big and this one is small,” or “What colour is this leaf?”

2. Sing songs about nature, animals or the weather. A few good ones are “I’m Going on a Bear Hunt,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Rain, Rain Go Away.” You can even make up your own song – just change the words and use the tune of a song your child already loves.

3. Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt! Bundle up for your family walk and bring this fun scavenger hunt list with you or create your own. How many items can you find on your list?

4. On your next family outdoor adventure, choose something you want to count while you are out. It could be dogs, bikes, school buses – anything you want! Mark down your answer when you get home.

5. When exploring outside, encourage your little one (even babies) to touch items like the snow, branches, pinecones and leaves. Talk about how they look and feel. “The leaf is green. It feels smooth. This one is red and crunchy.”

6. Bring the outdoors indoors. Try putting snow in a container, bring it inside and talk about what happens to it. Or collect rocks and leaves, then arrange them by size or sort them by colour. You can even make some great art activities with the materials from outside.

7. Create a nature journal. Draw pictures and write stories about what you see outside and on your walks together.

8. Relate your adventures to books you read with your child, looking for examples of snow, trees, animals or other things you spotted when you were in the great outdoors.

9. Connect the animals you see in your community to the animals you see on a screen and in a book. Talk about how they may differ and how they might be similar in real life as compared to on screen or the book.

10. At bedtime, engage your child in storytelling by recapping the day, what you saw and maybe even how you felt. Try using prompts like, “The best part of my day was….”, “I went on an adventure to….” “Today I was so excited when….”. Take turns sharing ideas with your little one.

Discover more early literacy resources at childrensliteracy.ca.

STEM Storytime

With its focus on children in Early Years to Grade 3, this weekly activity features Let’s Talk Science volunteers across the country reading a story and leading simple hands-on STEM activities related to the story.

Join Let’s Talk Sciences weekly STEM Storytime series on Tuesdays at 1pm ET in English and every other Wednesday in French! If you cannot make it to a live session, feel free to register and you will be sent a link to the recording afterwards.

· STEM Storytime – Constellations January 25, 2022

· STEM Storytime (French) – Baguette magique

January 26, 2022

· STEM Storytime – Fingerprinting February 01, 2022

· STEM Storytime – Magic Wand February 08, 2022

Learn more about STEM Storytime and incorporating science literacy with your child.