Thursday, September 3, 2015


     A, B, C, D, E, F, G…..are you still excited about singing the "Alphabet Song"?  Need some new ideas for teaching letters and sounds?  A fun way we've found is to use environmental print.  This is defined as the print found in the natural environment of the child.”

     This is the print that is all around and is really the first print children learn to "read"!  Stop signs, logos, stores and restaurant names like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, etc. good examples.  It’s everywhere and children see it and use these known words to make transitions to new knowledge.   Children know a favorite food by its packaging but you can use that recognition to teach about letters and the sounds they make. 

     Start by asking students to bring in labels and logos that they are familiar with.  Send the parent letter home.  Click {here}. When the labels come pouring in, you will want to trim around them until only the main logo or name is left.  You can see that the word Ruffles (on green board below) has been trimmed until only that one word is predominant.  Don’t be afraid to throw some of the more questionable labels! Put the labels in baggies or envelopes with the students' names on them as some of the labels will be used on individual projects and some will be used for whole class activities.

I Can Read Posters: (We suggest that you start with this one!)

Make individual student posters called “I Can Read”.  Glue 3-5 labels that each child has  brought in that they know on a 12"x18" sheet of paper! Anything they can recognize is allowed even if it has a digraph, blend or r-controlled vowel at the beginning of the word. If they can read it, they can glue it on their poster.  Have children share by “reading”
their poster to the class.  Display them on the wall so you can refer to them as the need arises.  An additional activity could be the small version seen below.  Have each child choose one of their labels and glue it on {this paper}. They copy the name of the item and write the first letter.  Model several of these with the whole class before having them do them individually.  This will help reinforce the letter names and the sounds they make. 
Student Extension paper
Sorting Center:
One center activity could be "Sorting Labels". Provide students with a stack of labels and 2-3 letters as the “sorting categories”..  Have students sort out the labels by placing them under the correct beginning sound.  Scaffold this activity by pre-bagging labels that match your target letters. Having too many in the 'mix' will be confusing!  You might want to glue the labels onto small cards for easier handling. 
Since you are focusing on letter names and the sounds they make, we suggest that you do NOT use logos that have digraphs or  
r-controlled sounds or other phonic elements that have not been taught yet.

Sample Dictionary page
Class Dictionary: Use 26 large pieces of construction paper.  Label each page with a big letter.  Glue environmental logos on the pages that correspond with the same beginning sounds.  Ex. The M page might have a McDonald’s logo, M& M’s, a magazine picture of a milk carton , etc.  One management tip would be to do 1-2 dictionary pages a day as a whole group activity.  Go through the labels and ask the children to “read” them and determine whether they start with the letter(s) on the dictionary pages being created that day. 

Remember to use the familiar print to reinforce their learning about letter names and their sounds.  Use clear logos and labels that are good examples of the sounds. Save words like Cheerios and Chips Ahoy for later in the year when you are learning about digraphs! 

Shared Writing:
Use the labels during Shared Writing too!  Place some labels in a bag and pull one out at a time.  Ask students to say a sentence using that logo.  Write the sentence on a large piece of chart paper or tablet and glue the logo in the place where it occurs in the sentence.  Pull out another one.  Share the pen (colored marker) with the students by choosing someone to come and write a letter that starts or ends a word in the sentence. Do several in one sitting or add to the chart on subsequent days.  Reread all the sentences written during that session of Shared Writing. Reread the previous day's writing if you are adding to the chart. 

Pocket Chart Reading:  Add sentence strips or word cards with sentences like:
I can read___________, I like to shop at ____________, I like to eat at ___________ etc. Add labels to the ends of these sentences. 

There are so many uses of environmental print. It's amazing how quickly your students begin to make the connections to letters and sounds when you use the power of the wonderful world of print they already know!

Keep on reading! Jackie & Kylene

Here are some products you might enjoy using with your class.  Click the links to find them at our TPT store. 


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