Ideas for Active Literacy

I am a big believer in connected thinking and think it is crucial to our learners that all subjects support the development of each other.

Once school is done and students go out into the world they quickly discover that everything is a connected web and not isolated – which can sometimes be how subjects in school are delivered.

Physical Education is in my opinion to single most important subject in schools – my reasoning is simple its a subject through which everything can be applied. It can be used to give context to other subjects.

I attended a workshop a few months back that brought up the issue of students becoming becoming overwhelmed and increasingly apathetic in literacy lessons. I couldn’t help thinking that surely we can use PE to help motivate and encourage and to reinforce their learning in the classroom and in literacy.

A lot of learning in Physical Education is about pattern recognition and application – Literacy is very similar therefore I have gone about trying to make some fun games that could be of use both to PE teachers to help support literacy and to those in the classroom that might want to get their groups more active.

Word Scramble

This game is a take on a classic problem solving game; assign each student a word then ask them to unscramble it whilst staying on the bench the whole time. Have them compete in teams to help motivation.

word scramble

See full guide here; Word Scramble – Active Literacy

Alphabet Soup

A modified version of quite a normal warm up activity. In Alphabet Soup give each students a tennis ball to be throwing and catching and moving around with – on each tennis ball their is a letter – on the call of the teacher the students have to form words as quickly as they can.

alphabet soup 1

For full guide and progressions click here; Alphabet Soup – Active Literacy

Scrabble Run

Based on a simplified version of the board game Scrabble; in this version students race to collect letters that are hidden underneath cones. Once their team have enough to form a word they put the letters down in a line to win points. They must try to achieve this before the other teams in order to win.


For the full guide: Scrabble Run – Active Literacy

Countdown Word Game

Similar to ‘Scrabble’ the Countdown word game is based on the TV Show rules;image-1-8

Pdf version downloadable here; countdown-challenge

In this game students relay out to the grid; they are allowed to look under two cones but must take only one letter back to their team. At the end of the relay time (30 seconds)

they must present their word. – This means whilst not out relaying the rest of the team must be planning and creating the word.

Red cones hide the vowels and yellow cones the consonants;


pdf version here; countdown-word-game-resource-sheet

Use of the Countdown Clock adds a nice level of drama and can be used either as a race timer or for word specific tasks.

Letter Slide

Probably my favourite one of all – Letter Slide. These used to drive me crazy as a kid. Arrange your class into small teams and make the above with tennis balls and cones. leave one cone free – students must relay race out and move only a letter that is next to the free cone. They must take one go at a time and try to arrange the letters to form a word before the other teams have finished.

Full guide and help card: Letter Slide – Active Literacy

Please give them a try and let me know how you get on. If you have any active literacy games that you could share please do – it broadens my active vocabulary!

By Kevin Peake

Founder of PESA; The PE and Sports Assessment Tool

If you haven’t had a look yet – have a look via the APP  Stores links below:

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