Environmental print is the print we see everyday in the world around us in the form of logos and signs. Young children learn how to recognize this type of print first, its an important part of the emergent literacy process.
What is Environmental Print?
Recognizing this kind of print 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.
Why Use Environmental Print?
Using this type of 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.
It 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 to “read” then they will be able to transition into the functional print of school more easily.
How to Use Environmental Print
This kind of print can be incorporated easily into every area of the early childhood classroom. We have 12 Environmental Print Activities we love using in the classroom. Here are some ideas for using environmental print in your classroom.
Environmental Print Class Book
Have your students bring box fronts of their favorite breakfast cereal to school and make a class book titled “What’s for Breakfast?”.
Our Favorite Restaurant book: Have the students bring bags from their favorite restaurants. Next, mount the logos from the bags on cardstock and add the text below. “________ (child’s name) likes to eat at ________(name of restaurant)”
Environmental Print Bingo Game
Combine emergent literacy learning and bingo for lots of fun! Download the free printable game on the blog here.
Memory Matching Game
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. Mix up the box fronts and place them face down to create a memory matching game.
Pocket Chart Sentences
You can download the free pocket chart sentences here.
Put Environmental Print on your word or name wall. It is even more meaningful if you have the students bring in their own examples to put up on the wall themselves. Here’s a printable note you can send home to parents to collect environmental print.
There are two ways to do this activity. The first way is to invite your students to bring in an example 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 examples 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.
You can make simple puzzles from cereal box fronts for your students.
Students can bring in all sorts of Environmental Print and you can have them sort them by category (food, toy, store, signs etc)
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”.
Environmental Print Block Center
Add traffic signs to your block center. You can find the free printable road signs HERE.
Teaching with environmental print is important, but it’s only one small piece of the literacy puzzle. If you really want to be the best teacher you can be, the best place to learn more about current best teaching practices and get the support you need is in the Teaching Trailblazers. We have many printable lessons and on-demand video training to help you become the best teacher you can be! If you want to get on the waiting list for the Teaching Trailblazers, do it soon so you don’t miss the next open enrollment period!