Children need to develop print awareness in order to later become readers and writers. Print awareness will lead to letter knowledge. Print awareness is the understanding that print and pictures are processed differently. We look at pictures. We read letters and words. Preschoolers don’t automatically know the “rules” about written language. They need to have exposure and explanations about the rules of print. Research shows that when you point to words as you read and describe the print on a page, your child will grasp these important concepts and have increased reading and writing success down the road. This activity uses environmental print (words in our environment) to expose your child to print awareness. Add paper, crayons and imagination and extend this into a fun writing activity. Who knows . . . maybe you have a new advertising executive in the works!
- empty cereal boxes
- hole punch
- yarn or rings
- paper or cardboard
- crayons or markers
Step 1: Save five to six different cereal boxes. Cut out the front cover of each cereal box.
Step 2: Punch three holes on the left side of each cover and bind them together with yarn or rings to make a book.
Read the Book:
Step 1: Invite your child to read the book with you. Go through each page and see if your child knows the name of the cereal just by being familiar with it. Environmental print is a great way to start developing your child’s pre-reading and beginning writing skills.
Step 2: Ask your child to point to the name of the cereal. If she points to the picture, you might say, “Yes, that’s a picture of the cereal. Here is the word that says (name of cereal).”
Step 3: Place the book in a convenient place so that your child can read it independently. Children enjoy a book that they can read by themselves!
Step 4: Have your child choose a favorite cereal box cover. Encourage her to tell you what she likes about the cereal, like the color, the taste, the character on the box. Give her paper and crayons and let her draw about her favorite thing. Remember it is the process of the experience not the end product. Acknowledge and praise all attempts at drawing and writing.
Move to an easier skill of finding rather than naming. Separate the book and place 2-3 of the cereal covers on floor or a table in front of your child. Say the name of one of the cereals and ask her to find/point at the cover you name. Finding the cereal that has been named is an easier skill that naming it. Encourage her to tell you about the character illustrated on the box. Give her some paper and crayons and allow her to draw, perhaps something related to the illustration on the box.
Increase the number of pages. You might also include other types of food boxes that your child is familiar with. Encourage your child to tell you what her favorite food is. Give her paper and crayons to perhaps design a box cover of her favorite food or create her own cereal box. Encourage her to add details to the picture or write the letters for the name. When she is finished, add it to the book.