Letters in the Sand
While at the beach or lake, use sticks to "draw" letters or numerals in the sand. There's a number of ways to do this, depending on the child's ability. For real beginners who are just learning their letters and learning how to print, "draw" the letter in the sand and see if your child could trace over it with a stick.
If they can do this, move onto a "mirroring" part to whole activity. Draw a part of a letter (a section at a time) and have your child copy what you've drawn.
For instance, when drawing "A" , do this: First draw /. Child copies. Then draw /\. Child copies. Last, draw the crossbar of the "A". Child copies. Children love the unique medium of writing with a stick in the sand/dirt/mud. They also love "erasing" by stomping on the letters or swishing the sand around.
Wave Washing...letter or word recognition/spelling
If you're at a beach that has an active surf, this is an exciting and fun activity.
2 ways to do this:
Child Caregiver "writes" a letter or word at the point in the sand where the waves will wash over it. The child must call out what is written before the waves wash it away.
Child Caregiver calls out a letter or word that the child must write in the sand at a location where the waves will reach it. The child must write this quickly before the next wave comes to wash it away.
These are great for letter, color, and word recognition.
Alphabet letter hunt....just give your child a list of the alphabet and send them outside to find something that begins with each letter.
Color Hunt...give your child a list of color words or color swatches and send them outside to find something of each color.
Word list scavenger hunt...give your child a list of readable words (at their level) of things they can find outside. They can check off each word when they find that item. Since many items may be things that they can't collect and bring home, you may want them to "share" their finds in a dinnertime discussion
or go on a short hike with your child so the found items can be shown to you.
If you go on pinterest or google and type in "scavenger hunts" , you will find a myriad of wonderful hunts that are worded or pictorial that you can download and print out for free.