At-Home Literacy Activities

July 2019
Remote Teaching
One-to-One Tutoring

By Sophie Aime and Abby Horner, Summer Reads VISTAs

About Summer Reads
This children’s literacy tutor resource was created by Summer Reads VISTA members. Summer Reads is an AmeriCorps VISTA national service program of Literacy Minnesota. For eight weeks over the summer, Summer Reads VISTA members volunteer full-time as children’s/youth literacy mentors in schools, libraries and out-of-school-time programs across Minnesota. They bring literacy to life for low-income students through a variety of activities – one-on-one tutoring, creative enrichment activities like using arts and drama to explore language or practicing vocabulary and comprehension in science and other subjects. They also connect students and parents/caregivers to community resources through wraparound basic needs support. At the same time, the VISTA members build their own leadership, explore career paths, pay for college and become lifelong advocates for the communities they serve due to the power of their experience.

I Spy ABCs, Vocabulary, Sight Words

Objective: Letter recognition, letter sounds, spelling

Materials (*Optional):

  • Multi-colored pens, markers, and/or crayons
  • 13 sheets of paper
  • Scissors*
  • Clear tape*
  • A room in the house that you as a parent are comfortable in letting your child play in

How-To Prep:

  1. Cut or tear the sheets of paper in half creating 26 half-sheets of paper
  2. Write each letter of the alphabet on each sheet beginning with A and ending with Z. Use whatever writing utensils you have
  3. You should now have 26 half-sheets with each letter on them
  4. Scatter the sheets around the area that you chose. Some ideas to place them in:
    • On a chair
    • Taped on the wall
    • On the floor
    • On a table
  5. Make sure the half-sheets are visible enough that you or your child does not have to move furniture


  1. Have your child stand in the middle of the room.
  2. Explain the following directions to them:
    • “When I say ‘I Spy the letter...” run and point to it.
  3. Say “I Spy the letter [choose a letter].”
  4. To make it more challenging, time how fast your child recognizes the letter.

Other Ways to Play:

  • Have your child spell out their name, favorite color, favorite animal, etc by running to the scattered letters
  • For advanced kids, you can write sight words and vocabulary instead of the alphabet
    • Sight words: Say the word and have them find it and spell it
    • Vocabulary words: Say the word and have them find it and give a definition, synonym or antonym

Scavenger Hunt

Objective: Give the student space to recognize letters and words throughout the day and throughout different spaces as well as practicing writing

Materials: *Note: this game can be done without any materials, but if you would like:

  • Create a scavenger hunt sheet outlining what the student needs to look for
  • Any utensil(s) of your choosing

If using materials, How To Prep:

  1. Create a list of the letters from A to Z
    And so on…
  2. Gather writing materials to keep track of the letters and words found
  3. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or do this while in the car, or any other space that you see fit


  1. Depending on the student’s reading level, decide whether they will be recognizing letters or words from A to Z
  2. Beginning with A, have the lower level readers find words that begin with an “A” without needing to read and say the word if they are unable. Have them practice looking at this word and writing it down on their paper instead. Keep doing this all the way through the letter Z
  3. Beginning with A, have the upper level readers find words that begin with “A” and read them out loud once they find them. Have them write it down on their sheet of paper to practice spelling

Other Ways to Play:

  • To make it more challenging, see how many letters can be filled out on the sheet in a certain amount of time.
  • Practice finding words that only begin with vowels (A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y).
  • Practice finding words that only begin with consonants.
  • Practice this with finding different colors or shapes that could be found on a walk or drive.
  • Create a list of objects the student can find around the house beginning with each letter of the alphabet and practice writing them down.
  • More informally, have conservations about what you might find at a store on your walk or drive there. For example, have a conversation about what you might find at the grocery store, (aisles, cashier, carts, milk, eggs, etc).

Fill in the Blanks (Sight Words) Using Turtle Diary

Objective: Sight word recognition, spelling, comprehension

About: The Turtle Diary program includes educational and interactive games, videos, quizzes and printables for kids (pre-K-4th grade)

Materials (*Optional):

  • A device with Internet Connection (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc)
  • Apple Store or Google Play*

How-To Prep:

  1. Open any available web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc)
  2. Go to website:
    • Or download the “Turtle Diary” app using either the App Store or the Chrome store
  3. You can play without signing up, however, you may do so if you choose to
  4. Under the ‘Games’ tab, click the link to ‘Language Games
  5. On the ‘Language Arts Games for Kids’ page, scroll until you see the drop bar labeled ‘All Topics
    • Scroll and choose the topic ‘Sight Words
  6. Find the game(s) ‘Complete the sentence with correct sight word’ or ‘Choose the correct sight word
    • ‘Complete the sentence with the correct sight word’ is Grade 2 level
    • ‘Choose the correct sight word is Kindergarten level


  1. Monitor and assist the student if needed

Word Hop

Objective: Practice recognition of words and reading


  • Option 1) Indoors: paper, markers, and scissors can be used
  • Option 2) Outdoors: sidewalk chalk can be used for this activity
  • Option 3) Online game: a computer, tablet, or phone connected to internet or app store

How to Prep:

  • Option 1) Indoors
    1. Choosing from a word family list or grade appropriate words to know, write the words down on a half sheet of paper
      1. High frequency words to know found here:
      2. Common word family words to know found here: pdf
  • Option 2) Outdoors
    1. Write the words on the concrete
    2. You can make it interesting by playing this with a twist of “the floor is lava” or “island hopping”. Get artsy and creative with your student and make it fun! Find more information on “the floor is lava” or “island hopping” below in the directions.
  • Option 3) Online
    1. Have device connected to the internet and ready for the student to play!


  • Option 1) Indoors
    • You can focus on the game around high frequency words, a word family of your choosing, or a mix of all of them
    • Place the pieces of paper in a large enough space for the student to jump from paper to paper
    • Have them start on one paper and call out the next word for them to hop to
    • Keep going until all of the words have been covered
    • To make it more challenging, have them choose their own path to hop to and have them read and call out the word they chose to hop to
  • Option 2) Outdoors
    • Make sure the student hops from word to word, saying it out loud, while not touching the ground as they might get burned by lava or eaten by the shark from island hopping!
  • Option 3) Online Game
    • Kitten Hop Word Practice
      • Have the volume up on your device, listen to the word that is called, and click on that word. Keep going and beat your opponent!

Storytime Using Book Creator

Objective: Promotes the arts and creativity as well as comprehension

About: On the Book Creator program, you and the student are able to create free digital books and texts using photos, text, drawing tools, etc

Materials (*Optional):

  • A device with Internet Connection
  • Apple App store or Google Chrome store*

How-To Prep:

  1. Open any available web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc)
  2. Go to website:
    • Or download the “Book Creator” app using either the App Store or the Chrome store
  3. The program is free but you do have to sign up using your email


  1. Monitor and assist the student if needed

Other ways to use Book Creator program:

  • Poetry and Song Writing

Word Bingo

Objective: Sight word recognition, word family recognition, letter sounds


  • Can be made using an online platform: Google Docs, Word, or Powerpoint or on a sheet of paper, such as this “AEIOU” card to the right
  • Find objects that are small enough for the student to use to cover the word once it is called out, or cut a sheet of paper into small pieces for this

How to Prep:

  1. If you are using Google Docs, click on “insert” found in the top left corner between “view” and “format” and find “table” to create a 5x6 table
  2. Type in the words from word families, high frequency words, or in the above example, words that have short vowels (or words that have long vowels)
    • Make sure that the words that are chosen for the “A” column have an “A” in the word, and so on
    • Video on short and long vowels found here: 3A&index=21&t=29s
  3. If made on paper, create that same 5x6 table, filling the top row with AEIOU, instead of BINGO, fill in the middle space with FREE, and filling in the words you’d like to use


  1. Have the student fill in their free space first. Then call out the first word and have the student find it and put their piece of paper or object on the board to cover that word
  2. Keep calling out words until the student receives a BINGO or in this case, AEIOU. Have them say which words got them an AEIOU
  3. Find variations of the game to keep it interesting. Such as 1) make an “T”, 2) Four Corners, 3) Blackout the BINGO card, etc!

Word Search Using ABCya

Objective: Sight word recognition, word family recognition, spelling

About: ABCya is a program that provides educational games and activities for grades pre-K-6th grade

Materials (*Optional):

  • A device with internet connection
    • And/or can connect to a printer*
  • Printer with ink*
  • Paper*

How-To Prep:

  1. Open any available web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc)
  2. Go to website:
  3. In the search bar, search for ‘Make a Word Search Puzzle’
  4. You or your child are able to create a Word Search puzzle based on any category (e.g: The -at word family, sight words, etc)
  5. There are the options of printing the puzzle or playing directly online


  1. Monitor and assist the student if needed


Objective: Have the student work on sentence creation, punctuation, and sentence structure, and reading comprehension


  • Outdoor/Indoor Option:
    • Sidewalk chalk if you are choosing to take this fun activity outdoors!
    • Paper, scissors, markers/crayons/colored pencils for the rainy days inside!
  • Online Option:
    • Access to the internet through a computer, tablet, or mobile device

How to Prep: Assess the level the student is at and what is appropriate for this activity*


Outdoor Option:

  1. Based on this assessment, for lower level readers, choose to unscramble a word and write it on the concrete
    • For example, if you choose the word FAST, you might write it T A S F on the concrete and the student will have to figure out how to unscramble this word and write it on the concrete
    • Keep doing this activity with word family words or with high frequency words appropriate for the students grade level
  2. For those interested in a challenge, intensify this activity with unscrambling sentences. Write a scrambled sentence, such as, “.ball They the have” and the student will use the chalk to unscramble the sentence and write “They have the ball.”
  3. For another challenge, make sure they have the correct capital and lowercase letters and punctuation (!?.)

Indoor Option:

  1. Do the same steps described above but instead write the letters of words, or the words of a sentence on paper and have the student unscramble by moving the sheets of paper into the correct order.

Online Option:

  1. Go to website: For specific scramble word games, use the search bar and type “scramble” or “word scramble” or “sentence scramble” to access a variety of scramble games for different grade levels

Reading Comprehension with Kahoot

Objective: Reading comprehension

About: On the Kahoot Program, you are allowed to create, share, and play learning games and trivia quizzes.

Materials (*Optional):

  • Two devices with Internet Connection (any combination)
  • Children’s books
  • Printer with ink*
  • Paper*

How-To Prep:

  1. You may create or find small reading passages depending on your child’s level
    • The passage may focus on any topic (word families, the vocabulary of the week, sight words, etc)
    • You can also use children’s books found at home or in the library
  2. Go to website:
    • The program is free but you do have to sign up using your email
    • You can also download the app on the App Store or Google Play
  3. Create a comprehension quiz or game based on the reading passage or book
    • Make sure you set the timer to give enough time for your child to look back into the passage or book


  1. You can either read along with your child or have your child read alone
  2. You have one device to administer the game. Your child as the other to play the game!
    • Make sure your child is logged into and has typed in the correct game pin
  3. When playing, let your child look back into the book to answer the questions
    • If using a reading passage or online book, make sure your child can look back to it to answer the questions (either have the passage printed or projected on another device)

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