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Incorporating Environmental Print into the Preschool Classroom

written by: Andrea Coventry • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 1/20/2012

Environmental print for Pre-K or preschool can be used to harness an interest in reading and build reading readiness skills. Teach children to look for and learn from the words all around them.

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    What is Environmental Print?

    Environmental print is words found all over the child's environment. They are words printed everywhere that the child goes. Environmental print is found as brand names of products, names of eateries and stores, and even road signs. Children begin by recognizing the logos and pictures associated with each word, then can eventually "read" the words. Using environmental print for Pre-K or preschool can encourage learning in numerous ways. Simply begin by encouraging the preschool students to find examples of environmental print and to bring them in. Have them find examples in newspaper and magazine ads, cutting out logos from packaging, and even taking photographs.

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    Matching, Sorting, and Categorizing Environmental Print

    Preschool children can practice beneficial pre-reading skills such as matching, sorting, and categorization using environmental print.

    • Cut out examples of environmental print from ads in newspapers and magazines. Create two identical sets for matching and concentration games. They can also be used to play games such as Go Fish. Create an odd card so that the children can play a version of Old Maid.
    • Collect the logos and printed words in a variety of media. For example, cut out the fast food name from the bag, a napkin, clean food wrapper, and ads, and include a photograph of the restaurant sign. Have an even number of examples from three to five sources per activity for the children to sort.
    • Place examples of the environmental print around the classroom. Have a second set available for the children to go around and match much like a scavenger hunt.
    • Sort by color using the primary color used in the words. Again, this can be done with cards, then as a cut and paste project.
    • Create a categorization activity. Collect logos from five different restaurants, five different stores, five different cracker brands, five different street signs, etc., and have the children sort by type of brand.
    • Make puzzles out of larger versions of the brand name logos for the child to put back together. Encourage the children to make their own.
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    Spelling and Phonic Practice with Environmental Print

    Enhance reading readiness by having children practice letter and phonic recognition using environmental print. They can also practice writing and spelling these words.

    • Make wipe-off cards with the brand name printed underneath its picture so that the child can trace it. Have a follow-up activity with the logos printed in a booklet for the child to color and write.
    • Provide a moveable alphabet complete with letters the child can match to the brand name logos.
    • Sort by phonic and/or letter recognition using the initial sounds of each brand. This can be done initially with cards, then as a cut and paste activity from ads as a follow-up.
    • Do phonic scavenger hunts within logos. For example, see how many contain the letter "p" or the consonant digraph "ch."
    • Create three-part matching cards. Make two identical sets of cards each with the logo at the top and the word at the bottom. Cut apart one set to be matched to the "control" set.
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    Those early childhood years are a great time harness the reading readiness skills provided by using environmental print for Pre-K or preschool in the classroom. Practice pre-reading skills with matching and categorization games and activities, then move on to letter and phonic recognition with spelling and writing practice.


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