Environmental Print as a Teaching Aid for Early Education

environmental print

Environmental print consists of the signs, labels, and logos that we see in everyday consumer
items, shops, and restaurants. It is the print of everyday life. Children typically begin to
recognize or “read” environmental print before they can recite their letters or letter sounds.
When environmental print is used in the context of everyday experiences, it helps children make
a connection between letters and their first reading attempts. We can purposely use
environmental print to help children make that connection.

Begin by collecting a variety of packaging labels that you regularly use in your home. Which
ones would your child recognize? Cheerios? Campbell’s Soup? Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?
Which restaurants signs would your child know? Mc Donalds? Applebees? Logos can also be
found on the Internet, from restaurant packaging, catalogs, or Sunday ads.

Here are ten fun ideas to increase exposure to environmental print:
1. Bingo: Glue some of your items to a piece of card stock to make a bingo game. Make
several versions so that each game is fun, interesting, and has a variety of recognizable labels.
2. Letter collage: Draw or print one large, block-style letter of the alphabet. Collect and glue
labels that begin with the letter. For example: B-Barbie, Burger King, Burt’s Bees, Barq’s
Rootbeer, Band-Aid. Assemble into an ABC book using a 3-ring binder, or use a hole punch
and tie with string.
3. Sorting Game: Using a muffin tin or bowls, sort the labels into different categories.
a. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, treats
b. Places: Restaurants, stores, amusement parks, museums
c. Items: Food, toys, tools, sports, cleaning items
d. Beginning sounds: ch-Cheerios
e. Beginning letter of the word: c-Cheerios
f. Syllable: one, two, three, or four syllables
4. Play kitchen or store: Add empty boxes, jars, and safe, unsharp cans to your child’s play
kitchen or store. Add blank grocery shopping lists and a pencil, too!
5. Road signs: Download or take pictures of common road signs such as stop, exit, do not enter,
railroad crossing, or school. Add road signs to your child’s Geo Trax, train set, Hot Wheels
tracks, or blocks and cars. Point these real signs out while driving on the road and ask your
child to identify them.
6. Books: Create your own Hungry Caterpillar book, My Favorite Meals book, How I Keep
Clean book, or Places I Go book. Glue labels into the story so that your child can easily read
along.
7. Label the house: Using index cards and a black permanent marker, you can label everyday
household items such as a clock, window, door, mirror, cabinet, playhouse, and more! If your
child is ready to practice printing, lightly write the word in pencil and have your child trace
over in black pen.
8. Concentration: Collect at least 12 sets of logos to begin. Cut the logos out and attach them
onto a peek-proof backing. Turn the cards upside down and mix up. Your child can play
against a partner to find the logo pairs. Add more logos when the game becomes easy.
9. Puzzles: Create simple puzzles using a recycled logo with print. It’s easier to use one found
or glued onto cardboard. Store in a clear, plastic baggie.
10. Play Restaurant: Reinvent your child’s play kitchen by creating a restaurant. Add old
children’s cookbooks, menus, waiter’s notebook, play money and cash register to the scene.

Research shows that children encompassed by print are more successful in school, and generally
do well in literacy. Environmental print can be an important and meaningful influence on your
child’s early literacy development. By incorporating some of these activities, you can boost your
child’s exposure to written language and help forge a connection between print and the world
around us. Best of all, these projects, games, and activities are fun for your child to do!

Early Reading

Julie Rebboah has been a professional educator since 1998. She has been an Early Reading Intervention instructor, an English language development teacher, and a private tutor. Julie wrote Magic Letters; The Keys to the World of Words and Magic Words; Discovering the Adventure of Reading out of a need to provide materials to support and extend learning in her diverse classroom. http://www.lightningbuglearning.com