What is Environmental Print? Reading print from the world around us is one of the beginning stages of literacy development. The letters, numbers, shapes, and colors found in logos for products and stores such as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Coke, and Campbell’s soup all provide opportunities for emerging readers to interact with print and the written word in their own environment. We see Environmental Print everywhere, we see logos and signs in our daily lives but as adults we don’t consider it real “reading”. However, Environmental Print is the first print a child learns to “read”.
Why should I use Environmental Print in my classroom? Using Environmental Print in the classroom is very meaningful to young children. The logos and signs they see in their daily lives hold great meaning for them. How many times have you driven by a McDonald’s restaurant with your child in the car and he has shouted “Look! McDonald’s!”? Children get excited when they can “read” the print in their environment. Environmental Print is another way to build confidence in young children and get them excited about reading. When children are excited about reading and print holds meaning for them they will learn much faster and begin to make connections to the world around them. When children use the contextual clues found in Environmental Print to “read” then they will be able to transition into the functional print of school more easily.
What are some ways I can use Environmental Print in my classroom? Environmental Print can be incorporated easily into every area of the early childhood classroom. Here are some ideas for using Environmental Print below:
- What’s for Breakfast? Have the students bring box fronts of their favorite breakfast cereal to school and make a class book titled “What’s for Breakfast?”.
- What’s for lunch? Have the students bring labels, bags, or other environmental print from their favorite lunch foods to create a class book. Add the following text below to each picture, “_______ (child’s name) eats _____ (name of item) for lunch” To spice this activity up you could put the pages inside a real lunch box.
- Our Favorite Restaurant book: Have the students bring bags from their favorite restaurants. Next, mount the environmental print from the bags on cardstock and add the text below. “________ (child’s name) likes to eat at ________(name of restaurant)”
- Environmental Print Matching Game: This game can be made two different ways. One way is to collect the mini-cereal boxes and cut the fronts off the boxes. You will need two of each box front to make the matching game. The second way is to capture logos or signs from the internet using Google’s image search feature. Print out two of each type of EP to make the game, then glue the pictures on cardstock, laminate, and cut into cards. For detailed instructions on how to use Google image search go to the resources section below and click on the Read Write Think lesson “Stop Signs, McDonald’s and Cheerios”
- Word Wall: Put Environmental Print on your word wall. It is even more meaningful if you have the students bring in the Environmental Print to put up on the wall themselves.
- Environmental Print I Spy chart: There are two ways to do this activity as well. The first way is to invite your students to bring in Environmental Print to share. Then, cut out the Environmental Print and staple it to a bulletin board or glue it on a poster board. Children can play the “I Spy” game using the bulletin board or chart they created. The other way is for those of you who have an ELMO (see the ELMO page if you don’t know what that is). Using the Google image search feature create a page with all sorts of different Environmental Print that your students will recognize. Next, put the page under your ELMO and the students can play “I Spy” using a big pointer or fly swatter to touch the images on the screen.
- Puzzles: You can make simple puzzles from cereal box fronts for your students.
- Environmental Print Bingo: Using the Google image search feature again create bingo cards for your students using EP pictures.
- Sorting: Students can bring in all sorts of EP and you can have them sort them by category (food, toy, store, signs etc)
- T-charts: Create a simple t-chart in your word processing program and have students glue environmental print on the page in categories of “I like/I don’t like”, or “food/fun”. For printable t-charts go to the resources section below and click on the Read Write Think lesson “I know that word!”
Free Environmental Print Printables
Environmental Print Links
Environmental Print Resources: