Environmental Print Activities and Ideas
If you teach preschool or kindergarten aged children, then environmental print activities should be part of your day. These simple, yet fun and effective activities, are easy to implement. And they help pre-readers quickly become confident early readers.
Simply put, environmental print is the print of everyday life. It’s print that you see on street signs, logos, product labels, advertisements, coupons, and restaurant signs. Environmental print is all around–on the interstate, in the pantry, at Walmart, and in the parking lot of the school just to name a few places.
I’m going to share 30+ environmental print ideas you can use with little learners to promote early literacy. But first, let’s talk about some of the benefits of Environmental Print Activities.
Benefits of Environmental Print Activities
Environmental print helps bridge the gap between recognizing letters and beginning to actually read words. It provides young children with the opportunity to recognize that print carries meaning and that letters are not random. It gives children the confidence to believe that they CAN read.
These early reading activities also make content meaningful for children, which is critical for their interest in learning. For example, the name of a cereal on a grocery list has very little meaning to a four year old. But show that same four year old the cereal aisle at the grocery store, and he can instantly recognize and “read” the box of his favorite kind of cereal. He is motivated to “read” when the content is meaningful to him.
One final benefit of using environmental print activities is that they are easy to implement and can be done anywhere— in the car, in the classroom, or at home. They represent meaningful, real life learning experiences.
Ready to try environmental print activities in your classroom or at home with your children? Check out these 30 ideas:
30+ Environmental Print Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
- Let children cut out pictures from a newspaper, magazine, or shopping circular of grocery items. Have them create a shopping list by gluing them on a paper.
- Print and hang street signs and traffic signs on blocks in your block center.
- Create an Environmental Print bulletin board.
- Play “I Spy.” Let children walk around, ride around, or look at a magazine or circular with a magnifying glass and name the environmental print that they “spy.”
- Place environmental print containers (boxes, cans, bags, etc.) in the dramatic play center. Be sure to use items and logos students will readily recognize.
- Hang up an environmental print alphabet line instead of a traditional alphabet chart.
- “I Spy Letters”– Have children cut letters out a magazine and glue them on a paper.
- Build My Name- Have children cut letters out of a magazine to create their name.
- Photo Scavenger Hunt- During a drive around town, have your child take pictures with a camera or phone of signs, logos, and letters they see.
- Make an “Our Community” book with photos of signs and labels specific to your community.
- I Love to Eat- Make an “I Love to Eat” page with pictures of labels and logos of everything you like to eat.
- Cereal Box Ziploc Bag Book– Place cereal box fronts in gallon Ziploc bags. Clip the bags together using a jumbo ring clip and add the header page to the Ziploc bag in the front.
- Food Box Puzzles– Cut off the front of sturdy food boxes (macaroni, cereal, granola bars, etc.). Cut them into puzzle pieces and place them in a Ziploc bag for children to put together.
- What’s Missing? Display an environmental print sign and place a sticky note over the beginning letter. Have children guess the letter based on the sound they know is at the beginning of that word.
- Use pocket chart cards to create predictable sentences. Then add a logo or label at the end of the sentence for children to practice reading.
- Play Environmental Print Bingo.
- Make a circle map for a specific letter using environmental print labels and signs to populate the circle map.
- Plant an environmental print garden. Plant herb and flower seeds and display the seed packet on a craft stick sticking up in the pot.
- Show children how to recycle. Read the environmental print on each item as you recycle it.
- Create a Print Rubbing– If a box or package contains embossed print, cut out that section and show children how to use a crayon to make a rubbing.
- Beef up Your Construction Zone– Provide empty boxes, oatmeal containers, cans, etc. in the block center (with their labels still attached) and let children use them to build with.
- Make a grocery store in the dramatic play area using real food boxes, cans, etc. Give children real or pretend money to “purchase” groceries with.
- Add Environmental Print books to the reading center or bookshelf.(See List of suggestions.)
- Use index cards to label items around the room or the house or classroom. Encourage children to “read” the cards when they pass them. (Ex. book, bed, door, window, cabinet, etc.)
- Street Sign Letter Hunt– Have children use a pencil, paper, and clipboard in the car or on a walk to record each letter or word they see on a street sign.
- Safety Signs- Display some safety-related signs and discuss how signs can keep us safe and what to do when you see those signs (Ex. poison, stop, slow, caution, exit, enter)
- License Plate Lookout- Look for license plates in the school parking lot, in the driveway, or on a road trip. (Follow safety rules at all times!) Have children write down the letters or numbers they see on the license plates.
- Take a pretend picnic by packing environmental print labels, boxes, etc. in a picnic basket. Pull out one item at a time for children to name.
- Alphabet Hunt– Provide store circulars, magazines, and newspapers. Let children cut each letter out and glue it on an alphabet chart page.
- Cereal Book– Ask each child to bring in an empty cereal box of their favorite kind. Cut off the front cover. Add a label that says “___________ likes to eat” at the top of the box. Children read the sentence and name the cereal. Use jumbo ring clips to clip the box fronts together like a book.
- Syllable Sort– Have children name the logo and clap out how many syllables are in it.
- Print out an environmental print alphabet chart for children to use as a reference in their folder or on their desk.
- Play Road Trip BINGO as you search for environmental print on the road.
- Let children create an “I Can Read Book”. Fold a cover over some pieces of white paper and staple them together. Let children add pieces of environmental print that they can read.
Get a Printable List of these 30+ Environmental Print Activities PLUS the Alphabet Chart Pictured Above
Does this list of 30+ environmental print ideas make you feel inspired and excited about adding these learning experiences to YOUR classroom? Sign up below to download the full printable list of 30+ Environmental Print Ideas PLUS the Environmental Print Alphabet Chart.
Environmental Print Toolkit
If you want to add these activities to your classroom or home learning routines, be sure to check out my complete Environmental Print Toolkit. It’s been used in thousands of preschool and kindergarten classrooms to promote early literacy. And it comes with the printables and materials you’ll need to maximize environmental print use in your classroom. Click on the image below if you’re curious to see what’s included:
Here are more fun ways to promote early literacy with in Preschool or Kindergarten:
Looking forward to the reaction in my classroom!