Making ordinary items reading practice for young kids

Children are observant. They take their entire world in. These observation skills make their world a learning environment. As a parent, you can make it a literacy-rich learning environment. Using all the words and symbols around you is the key. The words and symbols you see everyday – logos, signs, cereal boxes, food wrappers, traffic signs, the box from a toy and your work name badge are all examples of environmental print.

Young children recognize environmental print first. Children get excited when they drive past McDonald’s. They can identify their favorite package of cheese sticks. Young children can “read” environmental print. This is the beginning of recognizing symbols, letters and words. It is the bridge from reading pictures to reading words.

The ability to “read” environmental print is a very exciting time for your child. Your can extend their excitement about reading and build their confidence. When children are learning something that is meaningful to them, they learn faster and begin to make connections. In this instance, your child will begin to use the context of what she/he is reading.

Activity ideas and tips for building early literacy

  • Family with one child shopping together in grocery store.Talk about the print that surrounds you
  • Point out the STOP sign (“that says STOP, I  need to STOP”)
  • Make mini street signs to use with toy cars
  • Use 1 side of a cereal box to make a puzzle
  • Save clean and empty food containers for your kid’s pretend grocery store
  • Print your favorite menu and use it as you play restaurant at home
  • Cut grocery ads or magazines and make a symbol, letter and word collage

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As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.