Teaching Concepts of Print to Preschoolers

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Are you worried about teaching concepts of print to your preschool learners? If you’re reading aloud to your preschoolers regularly, they have probably already developed some print awareness. You can use these concepts of print activities and resources to help your preschoolers master print concepts just in time for kindergarten. 

Teaching concepts of print is an important way you can prepare your early learners to be lifelong readers who love books and it’s easier than you think! Keep reading for fun resources you can use to build print awareness, fun preschool activity ideas, and a concepts of print checklist you can use for print awareness assessments. 

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Teaching Concepts of Print to Preschoolers

Teaching concepts of print to preschoolers is the first step in building lifelong readers. Children need to understand that the written language carries meaning. There are lots of fun and easy ways you can help your kids begin to understand these important lessons in preschool.

One of the best way to begin teaching concepts of print to preschoolers is to provide them with opportunities to explore books, writing, and drawing. Place carefully chosen books on their level for them to interact with and learn about. Books with interactive elements or large colorful pictures are perfect for the job! 

name recognition activities

Another great idea is to invite kids to explore writing and drawing with fun pencils, markers, and paper. Learning to write the letters in their names is a great place to begin. Encourage your children to create their own books. Talk about the parts the book will need: a cover, pages, words, pictures, etc. 

Modeling Proper Reading Strategies

Another way to help your preschool and kindergarten learners begin to grasp print concepts is by modeling proper reading techniques. How can you model these concepts for early learners who aren’t reading yet? Asking questions is a great place to begin.

Before you begin a new book and as you read, ask your students questions. Turn the book upside down and ask which direction you should read the book in. Let your preschoolers help turn pages. 

Follow along with your finger as you read words to help iterate to your students that we read from left to right. You can ask questions like “which page should I read first, the left or right page?” Ask about what is happening, what they think will happen, the characters, and the setting. 

How To Practice Print Concepts

Many children will come to preschool with some understanding of basic print concepts. How often a child is read to has a direct effect on how quickly they begin to understand print concepts. Reading aloud to children is the very best way you can prepare them for a lifetime of reading joy. 

Sharing books at bedtime or setting up a daily story time is the perfect way to expose your preschoolers to more books. If your preschooler is reluctant to sit and listen to a book, there are lots of things you can try. Choose books that meet their interests, read with silly voices, or read to them while they enjoy a snack.

concepts of print

As you read, point to the words you are reading. Doing this will help your preschoolers begin to understand that written words have meaning and begin to see that we read from left to right. You can help preschoolers begin to understand what a word is by pointing out words or clapping along with them as you read a sentence.

Labeling things in your classroom or homeschool space is another great way to increase your preschoolers’ exposure to print. You might be surprised by how quickly they begin to recognize words that have meaning to them. Labeling bins with words like “blocks,” “dolls,” and “crayons” is a great way to encourage your preschoolers to begin making the connection between written and spoken words.

Resources for Building Print Awareness

There are lots of awesome resources you can use in the classroom and at home to build print awareness with your students. Check out some of my favorite resources for teaching concepts of print in preschool and kindergarten:

Pocket Charts

A pocket chart comes in handy for so many things! First, write the words to your child’s favorite nursery rhyme or a silly sentence on flash cards (one word per card). Then, palace the cards, in order, in pockets on the chart. 

Point to the words as you read to help your students begin to see that words move from left to write. The separation of the pockets helps kids see the individual words. The pocket charts create an easy visual for kids to see that words have meaning, words are combined to form sentences, and we read sentences from left to right.

See & Spell Game

My preschoolers love playing with the See & Spell game. Each wooden board has a colorful picture followed by a word they can build using the included wooden letters. It’s a fun way to teach preschoolers that letters combine to form words and written words have meaning.

Don’t be afraid to use the letters to spell other fun words too. We like to spell their names, silly words, and even make sentences. Reading the sentences aloud is just more practice reading left to right.

Bookcase Clubs

The best way to help your preschoolers master concepts of print is by reading more books together and exploring how books are set up. Trips to the local library are a great place to start. Let your preschool and kindergarten book lovers explore the shelves and choose their own books to borrow.

If you’re looking for a way to fill your own bookshelves with exciting age appropriate books for your kids to explore, try a book club. There are lots of great book subscription services. Bookcase Club will send books in your favorite genres or topics for your child’s age. It’s a great way to expose your kids to books they might not have otherwise picked and ensure you have lots to read at home this year.

Concepts of Print Checklist

Understanding basic print concepts is an important skill for pre-readers and beginning readers. How can you ensure that your preschoolers are properly prepared for kindergarten and early reading? You can use this concepts of print checklist as an assessment to ensure your students have mastered print awareness:

  • Written words have meaning
  • Print can be used for many different purposes
  • There is a connection between spoken word and written word
  • Words are different from letters
  • Words are separated by spaces
  • Sentences are different from individual words
  • Punctuation marks show us where a sentence ends
  • We read from right to left, top to bottom
  • Books have parts: cover, spine, title page, table of contents
  • Every story has a beginning, middle, and end

Conducting a print assessment during your preschool year can help you to see where your early learners need more practice and which concepts of print are still challenging or unknown. Kindergarteners are usually given a concepts of print assessment mid-way through the year. Using this concepts of print checklist is a good way to assess where your preschoolers are with this important skill before they reach kindergarten.

How are you learning about print concepts and building print awareness in your preschool or kindergarten classroom? I’d love to read about your favorite activities and resources for teaching concepts of print in the classroom and at home. Tell me all about it in the comments.

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