In a literacy rich classroom (or home), children are surrounded by opportunities to see and interact with print. Although a print-rich environment takes many forms, it should all be interactive and meaningful to the students.
Children who are immersed in print-rich environments tend to make the transition into actual reading and writing with ease. This is true of all children, regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic background, or if their first language is different from what is spoken at school. If a child has had ample and meaningful engagement with print in the early childhood years, he or she will most likely become and remain a proficient reader and writer.
Literacy-rich and print-rich are often used interchangeably. They are both an environment that supports all four domains of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. This support is provided via a large variety of printed and digital material, as well as by the use of literacy manipulatives.
Literacy-rich environments are the most successful when teaching and learning are done in the most authentic ways, meaning that literacy skills are not taught in isolation, but rather integrated into every opportunity possible.
Goals of a Literacy-Rich Classroom
Of course the overarching goal of a print-rich classroom is to give children the foundation they need to become successful readers and writers. But more specifically, the underlying goals are:
Examples of a Print-Rich Environment in Action
- Several children sit together on a rug to listen as their teacher reads a picture book to them. As the teacher reads, she stops to point how the pictures in the book support the story she is reading.
- In the library of the classroom, two children sit together to recite the words of a familiar books with repetitive text. Another child looks at the pictures of a less familiar book and “reads” them, making up what she thinks the story must be.
- In another part of the classroom, a child points to pictures on the class helper chart and reads his friend’s names as well as his own.
- A little girl sits in the writing area and draws a picture of her family, then uses what looks like chicken scratches to “write” her siblings’ names.
- At the literacy center, two children work together to find letter manipulatives to spell out familiar and common words on cards, such as “cat”, “dog”, and “Mom”.
- In the dramatic play area some children play restaurant together. One child decides what to order using a menu with pictures and labels, while another takes orders making checkmarks next to the said pictures and labels, and the third child works the cash register, reading the prices of each item ordered.
By demonstrating to students the function and utility of language in an intentional, purposeful, and meaningful way, a literacy-rich classroom serves as a means to build the basic skills necessary for literacy development.
While many children are immediately exposed to literacy concepts within minutes of birth, some students may not have equivalent access or exposure, making print-rich environments even more important. Some children rely solely on the enriching literacy experiences they have in daycare, preschool or elementary school.
Do you have any tips to add? Any favorite resources you use?
We love sensory bottles – this letter matching one is perfect for promoting early literacy in a fun way!