Do you have a print rich classroom? Let’s talk about what a print rich classroom is, why it matters, and how you can easily create a print rich environment.
What is a print rich environment? A print rich environment contains different texts that use print for various purposes. You probably have some of these in your classroom already: charts, labels, calendars, word walls, reading corners, printed songs or instructions.
Add to your print rich environment with a FREE Sample of Phoneme oy Posters and Word Cards:
Some of the print in your classroom will be directly related to the literacy skills or sounds you are teaching. For example, your word/sound wall might feature words with specific phonemes (see phoneme packs for posters, word cards, and activities.)
Why does a print rich environment matter? A print rich classroom promotes literacy. It provides many opportunities for students to interact with printed material. And it helps students to extend their knowledge about how letters, words, sentences and texts work.
Let’s look at how to create one.
Create a print rich environment
How do you create a print rich environment? Take a look around your classroom for environmental print examples. These include anything that tells us about our world. For example, job charts, messages on the board, signs. See what other print that is already there. Do you have a sound wall? Labels? A reading corner?
That’s a start. You can also try these strategies for a print rich environment.
1. Detachable / movable print
A display in your room where students are able to detach words and manipulate them is a great addition to a print rich classroom. Your word/sound wall might have moveable words or you could have an easel or table top with moveable words.
Movable print is easy to set up. You can attach words to surfaces with reusable adhesive putty or Velcro dots. Students can move words according to different types of groups.
For younger students you might get them to move words according to:
- Initial sound
- Common sounds
- Word types (i.e., if it’s a noun or adjective, etc.)
- Alphabetical order
- Letter patterns
For older students the detachable print may include:
- Whole sentences or paragraphs that students need to place in the correct order
- Jumbled text types that students put back together (include headings, titles, captions, illustrations)
Word cards for the wall or worksheets that students can cut into word cards they use are a great way to add moveable text to the room (and even for students to have some words that travel with them).
2. Students’ work
You can create a print rich environment with your students. One way to do this is to use your students’ work as part of your print rich classroom. Taking time to reread the displayed work, this is meaningful to your students. You can also include student work as part of word hunts and other activities. The point is to interact with students’ work, not just display it.
Below are some examples of student work that I have displayed to become part of the environmental print in the room.
3. Reading corner
Make your reading corner or class library appealing and engaging to your students. A great choice of books and comfortable seating are a must. You can also include other objects and materials to add interest.
Get creative and think beyond books. The reading corner is a great place for a wide range of text types, such as:
- Comics and graphic novels
- Dictionaries, atlases, and other references
- Informational texts
- Magazines and newspapers
This is another place to include students’ work. You could include student written books, shelf book recommendations from students, posters about books or other kinds of book projects. I created a book of student work with my class and added it to the reading corner — it was the most used book in the room!
4. Theme displays
You can use any themes or topics you are focusing on to create a print rich display. Use any of these materials, tied to your theme:
- Work students have completed related to the theme
- Photos of class activities with captions
- An interest table that includes objects and other material related to the theme
- A word wall that uses topic specific words.
Engage with your print rich environment
As I noted in the section on including students’ work, the point is not just to display print, but to use and engage with it. Here are a few ways to use the variety of print you have in your classroom.
Games are a way to engage with different phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters), words, or text in your print rich classroom. Here are a few examples:
Tic-Tac-Toe. Students need to create a sequence of three words in a row to win (diagonally, vertically or horizontally). Provide each player with a particular focus. For example, Player A needs to select a word from the room that has the /ae/ sound and Player B selects a word from the room that has 2 syllables.
I Spy. Use environmental print for this classic game. I spy with my little eye: a word that has 4 syllables or a word that starts with the sound /s/ or a word that rhymes with cat. The options are endless.
Spelling Tennis. This game can be played by 2 students or in 2 teams. Play and score following a tennis match. Students can select words from word walls or the theme displays. Player 1 calls out a word and Player 2 needs to spell it correctly. If Player 2 doesn’t spell it correctly, the score becomes 15 – love. If it is spelled correctly, the score is love – 15. Player 2 then calls out a word for Player 1 to spell. The scoring continues as in tennis. (If you aren’t up on tennis scoring, you can just award points for each word spelled correctly and alternate who “serves” the word.)
6. Morning routines
Using environment print and informational print as part of your morning routines is another great way to engage with the various kinds of print you have in your print rich classroom! Here are a few ideas:
- Create charts of the morning greetings and classroom routines.
- Have an agenda that outlines the activities for the day for students to refer to.
- Use flashcards for children’s names, birthdays, months of the year, days of the week etc.
- Point out the month, day, and upcoming holidays on the calendar.
- Have students use words and pictures to complete a weather report for the day.
- Make a T-Chart for the class attendance – who is at school and who is absent? Get your students to place student names onto the chart.
- Write your good morning song on sentence strips. Get your students to place the sentences in the correct order each morning before singing the song. Display the strips in a pocket chart so that it becomes part of the environmental print.
What unique ways have you added to a print rich environment?