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Improve Literacy Newsletter

30 September 2010 -- Issue 26

Hi everyone,

In this month's edition of the newsletter we're going to be looking at environmental print, and how you can use it to help your child's literacy skills.

Let's get straight into it!

In this issue:

1. All about environmental print
2. Some activities with environmental print to help a reader
3. Environmental print resources
4. The Improve Literacy website
5. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

1. All about environmental print

Environmental print is the print we see all around us in everyday life - the print on commercial signs, labels and products we all use each day, whether it be McDonald's 'golden arches' or a traffic stop sign. Displaying environmental print in the classroom and in the home can help young children achieve early reading success, and these early breakthroughs may well motivate them to read more and more.

As parents you can use environmental print to your - and your child's - advantage. A child is particularly tuned in to environmental print related to their own interests (games and toys, or a movie, for example) so you really should make the most of this captive audience with different activities related to word and vocabulary building.

Environmental print is a great teaching medium as it bridges the gap between the functional print of school and the print of the outside world - and it doesn't cost a lot of money to use. The use of environmental print during interactions between parents and their children provides a way to expose children to letter shapes and letter sounds. The fact that environmental print is everywhere can gives lots of opportunities for spontaneous learning experiences.

2. Some activities with environmental print to help a reader

Here are a few environmental print-related activities for you to try out with your child.

a. Shopping photos - Take your digital camera with you when you go out shopping with your child, and take photos of what you buy - particularly the packaging and the branding/logos. You can then use the photos to make bingo cards, games of 'snap', even scrapbooks. Your photos can be resized to fit your needs and are easy to get access.

b. 'What's for Breakfast' game - After your child has finished a packet of her favourite cereal, cut off the front of the box. Write "{Child's name} eats {name of cereal}" on a strip of paper and glue it on the bottom of the box. Make a cover for the book that says, "What's for Breakfast?", hole punch the cereal boxes together and bind with book rings. Trim the boxes to a standard size before making the book.

c. Road signs - Choose a simple road sign to focus on during a car trip like a stop sign, or a pedestrian crossing. Encourage your child to count the number of signs seen along the way, and then ask him to read the sign. See if he notices that the same sign says the same message each time. Talk about the sounds of the letters you can hear (for example, "the S makes the /ssssssss/ sound.")

d. Sort by syllables - Collect environmental print words with different numbers of syllables, and then ask your child to sort the words by number of syllables. Also, ask her to find words that have "ing" and "s" endings. She can then sort the word by how the ending of the word is changed.

e. Create their own - Encourage your child to create his own environmental print by labelling important areas and objects in the home. He can make signs for designated areas, such as the bookshelf, bathroom, or kitchen, and labels for supplies, groceries or everyday objects, such as the kitchen table or wall clock.

3. Environmental print resources

A few useful websites and resources on the subject of environmental print:

a. -
This site has a huge list of great 'EP'activities, divided into a number of categories including reading, math, writing, art and music. They are handy for both the home and the classroom.

b. Organizing an Environmental Print Games Night -
Everything you would ever need to organize an evening of environmental print fun and games, including the games themselves, instructions, and even invitations to the event!

c. Everyday literacy: Environmental print activities for children three to eight -
this book has over 150 activities that use ordinary everyday objects to help children build essential reading skills. Each activity has a brief description, learning objectives, theme connections, materials, and literacy interactions. Price is US$62.95.

d. Read Write Think -
This detailed lesson plan titled 'From Stop Signs to the Golden Arches' is more geared towards teachers than parents, but its information is extremely valuable for anyone looking for an in-depth instructional plan for using environmental print as a teaching aid.

e. A Review of Research on Environmental Print -
This long but informative article details the research that has been carried out on the links between environmental print and child literacy development. It particularly focuses on different stages of learning development.

4. Visit the Improve Literacy website

Our website provides information and advice to parents about child literacy and ways to motivate children to read. You can also make your child the star in our personalised storybook, which is designed to stimulate a child's excitement about reading, and makes for an ideal gift.

5. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Keep up with our latest news, as well as child literacy-related news articles and interesting information pieces.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Catch you next time!

Sam & Andy McKenna

Copyright 2009 by Improve Literacy.
All rights reserved

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