Last week I presented a session at the National I Teach K! Conference in Las Vegas that focused on the use of environmental print in the classroom. We know that environmental print, or the print of everyday life such as signs and logos, offers excellent entry points for young children, learning-disabled students, and English language learners to interact with print in their own environment as they learn to read, write, and do math.
Children get excited when they realize that they can "read" the print in their environment. This excitement helps build motivation in young students. I'm always thrilled to use materials that help students learn much quicker and that create excitement in learners -- especially when the materials don't cost much money! All I have to do is collect (and invite students to collect) things like catalogs, coupons, flyers, labels, magazines, menus, newspapers, posters, telephone books, and print-outs from websites.
I promised the participants in my session that I would post some environment print from candy that I use to help students cross the bridge from phonemic awareness to phonics. I have found a pretty common candy wrapper for each letter of the alphabet. Usually, most students can use the incidental visual clues from the wrappers to "read" many of the wrappers long before they can recognize and name letters of the alphabet. This vital first stage of development of word recognition, the logographic stage, is highly context-dependent. Therefore, I make sure that I have the wrappers in full color available to the students as we begin working on the alphabetic principle. The wrappers also can be used as engaging manipulatives for word work in literacy work stations. I hope they're helpful!