Environmental Print

Reading print from the world around us is one of the beginning stages of literacy development.  The letters, numbers, shapes, and colors found in logos for products and stores such as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Coke, and Campbell’s soup all provide opportunities for emerging readers to interact with print and the written word in their own environment.  We see Environmental Print everywhere, we see logos and signs in our daily lives but as adults we don’t consider it real “reading”.

Environmental print is usually the first print that children recognize. It helps children make the connection in their brains that letters and symbols mean something.

The value of using environmental print activities is that it:

  • Helps children grasp that letters and symbols mean something. This can encourage children to want to discover that meaning.

  • Encourages children to “pretend read”, which is a component of emergent literacy. This helps develop an understanding of word meaning and context.

  • Helps children view themselves as capable readers. This happens because you demonstrate to the children that there are already words they can recognize! In turn, this stimulates young children to want to read more. They feel successful, and that is encouraging to them.


  • I Read Symbols by Tana Hoban

  • Signs for Sale by Michele Benoit Slawson

  • Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen

  • Road Signs by Margery Cuyler

  • I Read Signs by Tana Hoban

  • Signs and Symbols by Nigel Nelso


  • Show child EXIT signs at local library, store or restaurant.  Discuss why the signs are there. Ask your child to look for EXIT signs when they go places like the grocery store, movie theatre or restaurants.

  • Involve child in “reading” road signs and business signs in their community. Children can explain about the sign. You can ask, Do you know what this sign says?” “Where do you see this sign?” “What do you do when you see this sign?”

  • Make an environmental print book with your child’s favorite foods, cereals or restaurants.

  • Help child to recognize his/her first and last name in print.

  • Make an “Eat the Alphabet” book: Have your child collect Environmental Print that of foods that can be eaten; put the book next to the corresponding alphabet letter.

  • Match letters in environmental print: Have your child find letters on one Environmental Print. For example; find all the “g”s or “b”s on a Colgate toothpaste box.

  • Search for the names of five buildings in your community. Parents write them down for your child.


Environmental Print Activity Cards:


Environmental Print Alphabet Book: