Hello friends and happy teaching! I have shared about Using Environmental Print in the Classroom on my Instagram account multiple times, but each time I share an activity or picture, I end up receiving so many inquiries and questions about it. I decided to go ahead and share about environmental print here, along with a ton of free printable cards that you can download and use in your classroom.
What is Environmental Print?
Letters and words surround us all day, every day! There are labels on everything we use and signs everywhere we go. This ‘print’ is easily recognizable and we encounter it throughout each day. This is called environmental print. I tell my students on the very 1st day of kindergarten, that they ARE readers!! I usually get a handful of students who will dispute that and tell me they can’t or don’t know how to read. Then I quickly show them the logo for Chuck E Cheese, McDonalds and the response is overwhelming. Everyone recognizes those logos and can tell you what they ‘say’! This is so powerful and as a teacher, I use this to my teaching advantage!
Ways to Use Environmental Print in the Classroom
There are multiple ways to incorporate environmental print in your classroom, but it is a MUST, in order to to create a print rich environment! Again, don’t forget that having ‘print’ that students already recognize and can easily identify is the first initial step in bridging the gap from reading pictures, to reading words.
One of the first standards I teach during the 1st and 2nd week of kindergarten is sorting. But sorting is not just for math, but can also be used for literacy too! To do this activity, print and cut out various environmental print cards (or you can have students bring in their own). Using a pocket chart, have students sort between things to eat and places to go, or something similar. You can also have students share with a partner and determine how to sort their cards. This activity is best done following the gradual release model of I do, We do, You do. I would model sorting the cards first, then have students come up and sort as a whole group activity and then it could become an independent activity at the pocket chart station.
Environmental Print Alphabet
As you are teaching the alphabet, you can have student add the environmental print cards to the individual alphabet letters. (I am not sure who to give credit to, but this is an example I found on Pinterest.)
This activity with matching their name and possibly an environmental print card that also has the same beginning letter was found on Pinterest, but again, no idea who to credit.
Reading Foundations with Environmental Print
The reading foundation standards are so important and need to be taught early in the kindergarten school year. YOu can hit so many of these standards by lining up environmental print cards in a pocket chart and teaching students to point to each ‘word’ as they read, from left to right and top to bottom. You can check out this post from A Struggling Reader.
Building Sentences with Environmental Print
This is one of my students’ favorite activities in our classroom! I start sharing this activity a few weeks into the school year. By the 3rd to 4th week of school, my students are well acquainted with environmental print and our pocket chart! We have also learned a handful of sight words. After teaching them about the difference between a letter, word and sentence, it’s time to start building sentences!!
This activity is easy to set up and almost free! I am listing the materials here, in case someone is not sure of what I am talking about or needs a visual.
Environmental Picture Cards
Teaching & Independent Practice:
I write sight words that we have learned or are learning on sentence strips and cut them. I make a library pocket for each sight word, to be used as a ‘storage’ for sight words and to help keep them organized and easily accessible! Environmental print cards are kept in a small storage container for students to choose from. Students can use the sight word and environmental print cards to build sentences in the pocket chart. This helps students build and master some of the reading foundation and literacy standards.
Environmental print SHOULD always be FREE, since all logos, etc. are most likely copyrighted. As teachers, we are using them strictly to teach and reinforce learning. I collected my environmental print from all over and it is the number one question I get from other teachers. Where do you get environmental print? So I decided to go ahead and make some to share and of course, they are FREE!! You can download the Places to Eat cards HERE and the Places to Go cards can be found on the Exclusive Member Club Freebies page!! I hope you love them and enjoy using them in your classroom! I tried so hard to include places and things from all over, so thank you to those who contributed suggestions on my FB and Instagram pages!
But I want to know how YOU use or plan to use environmental print in YOUR classroom?! Please share in the comments below or on my FB or Instagram!