Concepts of Print: Ideas for Teachers

Discover 20 ways to help children learn about concepts of print — that print carries meaning, directionality in a book, letter and word awareness, upper case and lower case letters, punctuation, and more.

  1. Provide children with daily opportunities to participate in shared reading.
  2. Encourage children to bring books from home to share.
  3. Talk about the children’s own writing and drawings to help them.
  4. Model as you read that the message is in the print, demonstrating the one-to-one correspondence between spoken and written words.
  5. Make references to words, spaces, letters, lines of print, left to right, top to bottom, direction of print, in big books that you have read and as you model writing.
  6. Use environmental print to make references to words, spaces, letters and lines of print.
  7. Develop the concept of “left to right” by sticking a green dot on the left-hand top corner of the child’s desk to act as a reminder.
  8. Have children suggest where the teacher should start when transcribing stories or beginning to read their big books.
  9. Provide opportunities for paired reading. Ask an older student to read while a younger child follows along with his/her finger.
  10. Count the words in a line of print or clap for each word spoken to help develop the children’s concept of a word.
  11. Write a child’s news sentence onto sentence strips. Cut one sentence into individual words and encourage children to match words to the sentence strip, specifically using “first word,” “last word.”
  12. Use name cards, nursery rhymes, room item labels, etc., to help children recognize words that are important to them.
  13. Build up a bank of words frequently written or recognized by children. Display and refer to them when appropriate. Encourage children to refer to them when they are “writing.”
  14. Use a variety of incidental activities to develop the concept of letter, e.g., play with letter cars, magnetic letters, plastic letters and alphabet games. Demonstrate and discuss that letters go together to make words.
  15. Display an alphabet chart and talk about letters in other contexts, making sure the children can see that a letter is different from a word.
  16. Make available capital and lower case letters of the alphabet for children to use and manipulate.
  17. Model the use of conventions such as full stops, questions, pauses, etc., in context while modeling reading and writing.
  18. Make use of quality book and tape sets so that children can hear different interpretations of the print.
  19. Use elbow macaroni to “make sentences” with quotations and commas.
  20. Have student’s highlight (specific) punctuation.
Michigan's Mission: Literacy (2016)

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain