Concepts of Print in Preschool and 10 Fun Activities
Concepts of print is also known as print awareness, and it is the understanding of printed language. For example, preschool students will learn how words are made up of letters and words and letters are different. Furthermore, preschoolers will start to understand the differences between sentences, words, and how words are made up of letters. Print awareness is important because understanding concepts of print in preschool is a part of early reading and writing skills and is the building block for reading.
Teaching Ideas and Strategies
Even in preschool, teachers can help students understand print concepts by helping them learn letters and that words hold meaning, how print is what we read, how pictures go along with the words, and how we read from left to right and top to bottom. Other teaching ideas for concepts of print are:
- Teaching how books have front cover, a back cover, an author and an illustrator
- The differences between a letter and a word
- How there are spaces in between words
- Where to start reading such as reading from left to right and top to bottom
- One-to-one correspondence of words
These are all important skills for students to learn before they start reading books in kindergarten, and they form the basic building blocks of a strong reading foundation.
Activities to help Introduce Concepts of Print
There are several activities you can do it to teach print awareness in your preschool classroom.
1. Using Big Books
When using big books, the entire class can see the text and you can use a pointer finger to match what you are saying to the word. As students watch the pointer move from word to word, they will begin to understand one-to-one correspondence. Furthermore, when using large books teachers can point out spaces in between words, punctuation marks, letters, lines, and use the text to show how to read from left to right and top to bottom.
2. Environmental Print
Environmental print are the signs preschool students see in the world around them whether in a school, in a classroom, or even while they are riding in a car. We find environmental print everywhere! You can use environmental print to point out how letters and sounds make up words. You can also teach how these words represent specific concepts or places. Many kids can recognize their favorite fast-food place to eat, and teachers can use that type of environmental print to help students learn.
3. Letters and Number Sorting
Give students a mix of magnetic letters and numbers for this activity. Have them sort the magnets into two groups–numbers and letters. Children need to be able to recognize the difference between letters and numbers, because these two types of writing provide different types of information.
4. Reading with Pointers
If you do small groups, you can use that time to teach kids concepts of print through finger pointers. You can use pointers that go onto your students’ finger or give them each their own pointer or popsicle stick for this activity. First, you can read the story and model pointing to each word and reading them as you point. Next, have students do this with you and as you read point from word to word moving from left to right from top to bottom. Then, as you read you can talk about spaces and how they are in between each word to separate them. Finally, as the small group continues reading make sure to discuss different punctuation marks and what they mean as you read. I love using witch fingers at Halloween for children to use as pointers!
5. Simon Says – Book Version
Give each student a book to play Simon Says. Say things like, “Simon says show the teacher the front cover of the book.” Use this game to show front cover, back cover, top of the book, bottom of the book, pictures, words, and where to start reading too. This makes finding concepts of print a game for children to enjoy!
6. Build Nursery Rhymes
Using a pocket chart, build a nursery rhyme or poem together. You can print the poem in large text and cut out each word. Then, students can recite the poem and use the word cards to practice one to one correspondence, and reading from left to right, top to bottom. As familiar text, nursery rhymes are always great to use in preschool learning activities.
More Fun Print Awareness Activities
Even preschool students can enjoy free time to write in a journal. For example, students can draw pictures and write letters or words they see in the classroom. Even if it just scribbles, a lot of learning is taking place. This journal is a safe place for them to try writing letters and words, using spaces, and using punctuation marks too.
8. Show and Read
If you do show and share or show and tell in your classroom, having an opportunity for students to bring in their favorite book from home is a great opportunity to practice concepts of print. Students can show the parts of the book and you or the student can read the book using finger pointers. When we use things our students love, they learn so much more because it piques their interest.
9. Magnetic Words
During a small group session, you can use magnetic tiles to create sentences together. First, mix up tiles with words and spread them out on the table. Next, read the words or let students read the words on each magnetic tile. Then, create sentences together even if they are super silly ones! Go back and count the words together. Talk about what letter each word begins with. Count the spaces between the words.
10. Word Hunts
One of my favorite concepts of print activities for preschoolers is a word hunt using a pocket chart. This makes a great independent center. To set this up, write a letter on different notecards. Next, write words they know (such as student names) on smaller cards. Hide each name behind a letter. Let students hunt for words behind each letter and then write the words on chart paper. This is great for letter recognition and knowing how letters make up words.
I love these fun activities for preschoolers, and I’m sure your class will too. Which one will you try first?
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