Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Print in Our Environment

Young children begin to notice symbols and print in their environment before they know how to read words, or even how to name letters. They see words, logos, brand names, and street signs every day, and noticing these pieces of "environmental print" is one of the first steps in understanding reading and writing. By associating a meaning with a piece of environmental print, children begin to understand that certain symbols or letters stand for specific objects or places.

What environmental print (logos, brand names, street signs, billboards) does your child recognize, and how can you help him or her continue to develop awareness about what print means?
As always, talking to your child as you move through your environment is a great way to help them start noticing literacy all around them. Ask questions about pictures, words, and signs that you see in your home and out in the world.

Some classroom ideas that families could also try at home include:

~Take a walk with a camera to snap pictures of print children see around the school, home, or outside. - You could use these pictures to create a book or a matching game, or just to facilitate more conversation.

~Show children pictures of environmental print, and ask them to sort them into those with letters and without, those with similar colors, logos for restaurants vs. other places, or see how your child chooses to group them.

~Give your child clean, empty food/beverage cartons, jugs, boxes, and bottles to include in their pretend play. Suggest ways to use these, such as setting up a grocery store or a pantry. Watch to see how your child incorporates these objects into their play.

Creatively using environmental print is a great way to get children interested in the print in their everyday lives. Once again, it is important for families to share background with teachers because it gives teachers a window into each child's home life so that they can create a connected literacy learning experience between home and school. So, tell your child's teacher what environmental print your child recognizes or loves, and ask how this might be incorporated into the classroom!


  1. I love your classroom and family activities. I think it is a great idea to have families take pictures of print they see around their environment. This may get children excited about literacy. I think it is important for families and teachers to help children become interested in reading.

  2. Hillary-- I absolutely love your suggestions to obtain examples of environmental print activities. I can imagine little preschool children walking around with cameras now, and I love it! It would be easy for us to present environmental print from our own perspective, but how much more effective if we let the children choose! As teachers, we could easily set our children up to create their own print collection. With this, they could read and reread the recognizable print. I want to do this activity with my class soon!

  3. This was a great post! All of the suggestions on how to incorporate literacy at home and in the classroom were really good and I think that these are things that adults with children and teachers can both try to do on a daily basis. Children are surrounded by environmental print every day and sometimes they can really learn a lot without even trying. Its important to remember that children learn so many things from day to day living and using things in the environment to teach is a great way to broaden vocabulary and progress literacy.

  4. Love these suggestions for families--so practical!

  5. I love the activities that you wrote. I think those are really useful activities for children. Children not only will enjoy doing that but also they easily can learn about environmental literacy. As children are family with environmental literacy, they will be started to be interested in other areas literacy. Teacher also should provide a lot more activities for children.