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Concepts of Print Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

When young children understand the concepts of print, they are one step closer to literacy. This lesson offers you some fun and engaging activities for working with students on concepts of print.

What Are Concepts of Print?

As an early childhood educator, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about how to support your students' emergent literacy. There is so much to think about: early comprehension, letter recognition, and sound-letter correspondence, among other things. It is important not to forget that one of the most important things students need to master are concepts of print. Concepts of print are ideas about how written language works: for instance, in English, we read and write from left to right, put spaces between words, and use letters and words to convey a message. Concepts of print also include how books are held, the fact that books have covers with titles and authors, and the fact that when we finish reading one line, we go to the beginning of the next line to continue.

Some children master concepts of print quite naturally, while others will require explicit teaching. This lesson gives you some activities you can use to work on concepts of print while keeping your instruction lighthearted, fun, and engaging for all learners.

Concepts of Print Activities

Right or Wrong

This activity will get your students laughing. Gather them together and explain that you are going to read to them from a picture book. Then, act out the process of beginning to read, but do it wrong. For instance:

  • Hold the book upside down.
  • Try to read without opening the cover.
  • Demonstrate trying to read from right to left.
  • Look at the words on the page, but talk to your students about something entirely different.

Each time you do something like this, ask your students to pinpoint what you are doing wrong. Using their ideas, generate a class list of things they know about what readers do when they are working on a book.

One Line to the Next

This shared reading activity gives students practice with visual tracking and sweeping from one line to the next. Use a big book or a piece of chart paper with a poem or song printed on it in large letters. Read the poem or book to your students, then read it together with them several times. Then, call students up to the front of the room one at a time. Give students a large pointer, and ask them to point to the words as the rest of the class reads along. Each time the pointer gets to the end of the line, have the whole class say, 'Sweep!' as the pointer sweeps across to the beginning of the next line. Let at least three or four students take turns at coming up and using the pointer.

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