Our environment is full of print. As children come to school each day either by walking, traveling in a car, or riding the bus they pass numerous signs and logos. This is all environmental print. It’s some of the first print our students “read” in their early literacy journey. Let’s build awareness and skills with these environmental print activities and resources.
The Ins and Outs of Environmental Print
What is It
Look around at your world. See the signs. See the logos. That is environmental print. Children can recognize the sign for Mc Donalds or the Lucky Charms cereal box, the stop sign on the corner, or my favorite, Target.
And when a child can “read” those logos and signs, he or she feels pretty special. “I can read.” we hear little ones cheer. Environmental print is some of the first “reading” our little ones do. They are recognizing symbols and that symbols contain meaning just like letters and words eventually. Encouraging it helps build confidence and a desire to read.
So, let’s build on that awareness and promote it because we can do lots of teaching with this familiar print.
Print Rich Environment
Creating an environment rich in print is important for students to have to develop their literacy growth. Students need things to “read” besides books (all though those are super important.) And, since the environmental print is some of the first “reading” our children do it makes sense to fill our space with that type of early literacy material.
BUT, there can be too much of a good thing. We don’t want to plaster our walls so that they become completely overwhelming.
Tip: Add things gradually. Refer to the materials often. And take things down when the students aren’t using them anymore.
Print Rich Ideas
- Have students cut out logos from the newspaper or bring in logos from items (cereal boxes, shopping bags, etc.) at home to create an environmental word wall.
- Display student names. Children should be able to see and read their names in multiple places in the room.
- Add print to your centers. Road signs to the block area. Signage in dramatic play. All of our preschool literacy units have dramatic play centers with printable signage.
Environmental Print as a Teaching Tool
Familiar print allows for lots of early literacy learning including:
- letter recognition
- counting letters and words
- working on beginning sounds
- identifying word parts (syllables)
Draw attention to environmental print to teach the skills above with the activities below.
Environmental Print Activities
Try these activities to add hands-on and playful ways to build early literacy skills.
1.Make a class book of items that students bring in from their homes. Each student can bring the logo from a cereal box to the paper bag from the grocery store. Glue each one to a sheet of paper and bind together in a book. You could also add text to each page such as, “Jodie likes Frosted Flakes.”
2. All of our Preschool Literacy Units have two dramatic play ideas in each unit. And, there are printable signs in each of those dramatic play sections.—>See the Preschool Literacy Units.
3. Pocket of Preschool also shares a neat pizza sign idea for your pizza dramatic play area.—>See the pizza signs.
Tip: Bring in empty & clean containers of food packages, shopping bags, and menus for your pretend area if you are doing a store or market theme.
4. Create billboards for your cars and trucks road play. It’s easy and full of early literacy learning.—>See how to make environmental print billboards.
5. Pre-K Pages has a fun environmental print bingo that would be fun for class parties. Who doesn’t love a round a bingo.—>See the bingo game here.
6. Are We There Yet? maps are also a fun way to add in a little print awareness while the kids are playing at home or in the car.—->See the Are We There Yet? maps.
7. Play Red Light, Green Light with an environmental print twist with this idea from Books and Giggles.—>See the game here.
8. Create a real-world alphabet set with this idea from Teaching Differently.—>See the real world alphabet.
Let’s bring environmental print into the classroom to help students develop early literacy skills.