Environmental Print

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Environmental print refers to the print that we see around us in the various aspects of our life. We see print in our environment on signs, logos, catalogues, brochures, labels and a range of advertisements.

When children are just beginning to learn the sounds of the alphabet and beginning to blend letters and combinations of letters to decode words, the print we see in our environment can be a useful, ever-present resource.

As your child is introduced to the different letters in the alphabet, it is useful to reinforce and practise this learning by finding the letters in the environment.

  • Can your child find the letter on car licence plates, on the cereal box or in the name on a street sign? This activity becomes even more beneficial when you consider that some letters appear differently in different fonts
  • Play ‘Eye Spy’, but instead of finding an object beginning with a particular letter, the competition is to find the actual letter. Remember to say the sound of the letter (/a/ apple) not the name of the letter (/ay/).
  • Give your child a pile of advertising flyers, magazines and/or newspapers and together make a collage of the letter that is being learned.
  • Have your child take photographs of different street signs, logos, shop names, etc. Print the photos and have your child sort the photographs according to the first or last letter.

When your child knows all the sounds of the letters of the alphabets and is starting to decode, try these activities:

  • Help your child read street signs like ‘stop’, street names that are easily decoded given his/her current phonic knowledge like ‘Mill Street’ and other signs you encounter like ‘exit’. As his/her phonic knowledge increases, you can help your child decode signs like ‘Target’, ‘enter’ or ‘do not take lift in case of fires’. Help your child in the decoding process rather than just telling him/her the words.
  • Give your child a highlighter and get him/her to highlight all the words on a cereal box, in a newspaper article or on a flyer that he/she can already read. Find a couple of other words that your child has the knowledge to decode and give him/her the support needed to decode these words.
  • If you are trying to find a particular street, write the street name on a piece of paper before you leave home. Help your child decode the street name.  Then ask him/her to help you find the street once you are several streets away.

Look around your environment.  How can you use what you see in your environment to support your child’s literacy development?