Any garden that is going to grow, requires water.  Children learn a lot about print when they are read to.  We’ve all seen toddlers use jargon to “read” a book.  This behavior indicates that the child understands that we speak a story when we look at a book.  Better yet, children who pretend to read…WILL read.  Concepts about print include being able to understand that print carries meaning.  It also includes understanding that we read from left to right across the page and from top to bottom of the page. Illustrations and graphics carry meaning as well.  Water your literacy garden generously with Concepts about Print.

1.      Create simple signs…such as traffic signs or door signs.  Include arrows to “read” direction or simple graphics that correlate with the signs.
2.      Create an obstacle course that uses stick figure symbols to tell children what to do.
3.      Mailbox:  Have a letter every day from a fictitious person that writes them every day. Perhaps this writer sends them a poem or song to read that is illustrated.

4.      Simple illustrated maps to read of playground or campus that direct children to find a “treasure”.
5.      Hold up pictures of simple stick-man shapes and challenge children to make their body make that shape.
6.      Signs that label what kind of trees and shrubs are in play area.
7.      Make “Driver’s Licenses” using photos and their “signature”—put on a ribbon or a clip on badge to wear when they get a bike to ride.

8.      Install “story boards” in a few locations around the playground.  This is similar to “historical markers” you see on the roadside.  Maybe one tells about the beginnings of the learning center and another tells a story about a bird or squirrel that is commonly seen in the area.

9.      Post an illustrated sign of simple playground rules.

10.  Plant a garden and label plants with words and pictures.


Fox in the City is a book that I wrote a few years ago. Children will love “reading” all the environmental print throughout the book….and they will love learning how the fox will survive when humans disrupt his woodland home.  It’s a great story about adaptability and endangered animals as well!


    Fox in the City

(Click on the book for more info!)


                     Do you have other “Concepts about Print” ideas for the outdoors.  I’d love for you to share with us!