From ABCs to Reading | Have you ever wondered why a young toddler can begin to identify words in their everyday environment when going to a grocery store or riding in the car? This is because of the importance of
using environmental print to build early emergent reading skills! Early learners learn the value of print
directionality (reading left to right), letter recognition, and the formation and shapes of letters. Through
repetition, these learners are storing in their memory the words that they are learning and using a skill
known as recall and recognition.
One simple activity that can be done at home is creating an environmental print book or wall.
With my two-year-old, I used his closet door to add the letters of the alphabet. Each week, I would
introduce a new environmental word and use an experience with the word to help him make an
association. For example, he loves to eat Cheerios cereal, so we used cheerios in a fine motor activity to
glue cheerios on the initial of his first name. Afterward, he went to his letter wall, and found the
matching first letter of "Cheerios” and placed it under the letter C. You can also choose to add the child’s
name and picture, and other members of the family’s names along with their pictures as well. This letter
wall with environmental print should be personalized just for your child and what is important to him or
her. It makes learning letters and reading fun for young children! Not to mention, this builds their
confidence that they can read!
Putting environmental print on a wall might be a challenge. As an alternative, this activity can easily
be adapted to create a book of print that can be read. You can use a photo album and add the letters of
the alphabet from A to Z. Then begin to find environmental print labels that your child cares about and
add them to the book. This book can be added to their library, and they can begin to read this book on
their own. This activity is a great starting point for the Basic – Read and Discuss Stories. Being able to talk through the letters children recognize while reading will nurture early emergent reading skills will support better readers in the future!