Sunday, January 30, 2011

Please, label my children!

The front of the Target ad was just full of labels this week. There was this one:

And this one:

I used this ad with Logan- age 2 1/2. I cut the labels apart and put them out to view. I asked him, "Can you read this?" as I pointed to different ones. He "read" Target, Cheerios, and "soda" (for Diet Coke-- Mommy's drink of choice).

After he read each one, he glued it on to a piece of construction paper to make a collage.
This kind of reading is sometimes refered to as environmental print. According to,
Environmental print is the print of everyday life. It's the name given to the print that appears in signs, labels, and logos. Street signs, candy wrappers, labels on peanut butter and the K in Kmart are other examples of environmental print. For many emergent readers, environmental print helps bridge the connection between letters and first efforts to read.
Reading Rockets suggests using environmental print to: find letters in your name, talk about the sounds letters make, and explore capital and lowercase letters. Read more about these ideas here.

If you don't have the Target ad, you can cut words and symbols off products or download pictures from the internet.
Logan was also able to "read" these logos I printed off the internet:

As we glued each label to the paper, I cheered for Logan's ability to read the word. My goal was to make him think of himself as a reader.

One book that has helped me immensely to guide children (both my own and formerly my students) in developing an identity as a reader is "Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning" by Peter Johnston. I love what Johnston says in his chapter titled, "Identity".

"Children in our classrooms are becoming literate. They are not simply learning the skills of literacy. They are developing personal and social identities- uniquenesses and affiliations that define the people they see themselves becoming."
Defining themselves as readers? That's one label I hope my children put on themselves. 


  1. We went out to lunch with friends today and to keep Addie (2.5) busy while we waited, I used a little mini-Magnadoodle to draw pictures and write words. I already know that she knows the words milk and baby by sight, so I was just writing random words that I thought she might recognize. She knew shoes, socks, puppy, and truck...all from her favorite books! :) My girl is definitely an emerging reader and I am so EXCITED!

  2. I'll have to try this tomorrow with Jonathan! He loves to look at store "labels" and he knows where we're going by the signs!

  3. That is a great book- I read it for an inservice and have passed it around to other educators- it has a great message! And it's so true about the labels- children learn to read words that have meaning to them first!

  4. Jackie ~ Great use of familiar environmental print. Would love to have you share this idea or another favorite on my linky at

    We are posting things to do during a snow storm.

    :) Kristi

  5. Nice post!

    I love Reading Rockets! I haven't read the book you referenced, but it sounds like a good read. What a fun way to get a child excited about reading and see himself or herself as a reader everyday.