The way in which kindergartners or any age child learn how to read and write better is by practicing, I always tell my students no matter what they are doing that the more they practice the better they will get.
Some children do not have books, magazines or any type of reading materials in the home but kindergartners can still practice reading by looking at environmental print. In many kids’ homes there are items such as cereal boxes, drink containers or any type of food container that have words and logos that children can try and make a connection with the writing and the item.
Driving in a car or bus is a great time for kids to focus on environmental print such as restaurant names and logos, one name and logo that most children recognize is McDonald’s golden arches.
Kids need to be taught how to use environmental print so they can take the information with them and practice their skills at home.
A Favorite Environmental Print Activity
One of the favorite activities that I did as a teacher with kids is to have children who wanted to bring in a empty box of cereal could do so, we then would talk together as a class and discuss how important it is to eat breakfast and also have a mini-lesson on good nutrition and being healthy. I would then graph the boxes of cereal on large chart paper to see which cereal was most popular and so on.
Typically I would use the most popular brand of cereal as an example, I would hold it up and start a discussion about aspects of the cereal such as: the logos used on the cereal box, the colors, possibly any animal or cartoon type figures that were represented on the box, it was a time to just look at the cereal box and talk about what we notice.
I then would focus on the name of the cereal and the letters in the cereal name, the kids and I would count the letters in the cereal name and then read each letter individually. After we read each letter individually, I would go back to the letters and with each letter point to it and see if a child could find the identical letter in the room somewhere, a type of an eye spy game.
Environmental Print Center Activities in the Classroom
Some of the center type activities I offered were: placing cereal boxes in the writing center and allowing children to copy the cereal box names on a piece of paper and drawing a picture to go along with cereal name.
In the word work center, kids could use letter cards and spell out the cereal names in the pocket chart and manipulate the letters to make new words.
The kids also enjoyed a restaurant center that was fairly simple to organize, it included: plastic plates, utensils, laminated menus from real restaurants and of course empty food containers such as cereal boxes were the most popular in the center.
Environmental print is a great way for kids to learn letters, sounds and to practice reading. In today’s world, there is environmental print all around us and exposing children written language has never been easier.