15 Minutes of Family Fun – Environmental print walk
Date posted: January 13, 2014
Children live in a print environment. They’re surrounded by print every day, including street signs, store signs, labels, logos, advertising, newspapers, and books. At a young age, they are able to recognize that this print has meaning and it can help them make sense of their world.
Use this print as a way of developing reading (and prereading) skills by going on an Environmental Print Walk . While on a walk, take time to look for and talk about the letters, numbers, words and signs that you see. Don’t ignore the signs that contain symbols without words (e.g. pedestrian crossing) because they reinforce the idea that one thing can represent something else, just like letters represent sounds and numbers represent quantities. For ideas on building awareness of signs, look at Sign Smarts.
Too cold outside to go for a walk? There’s lots of environmental print inside, too. Many boxes, bags and labels (and book covers and newspapers, of course) are sources of letters, words and numbers.
One variation of this activity is Looking for Letters. This early literacy activity for children ages 3 to 5 involves looking for letter shapes outdoors. It helps develop awareness of shapes and letter recognition, and encourages observation skills. For details on how to do this, with hints for success, click here.
This video gives examples of where you can find alphabet shapes in nature.
There are lots of variations of this activity for all ages. The American National Wildlife Federation describes how to organize an Alphabet, Number & Shape Hike.