Pre-Reading Skills Focus: Print Awareness


A series on the pre-reading skills needed for preschoolers to become successful readers.

Welcome to the Pre-Reading Skills Focus Series!  This will be a 6-part series, because six pre-reading skills will be focused on individually!  This is the fourth post in the 6 part series, find the other posts here:

 Print Motivation

Narrative Skills


Pre-Reading Skills Focus: Print Awareness

What is Print Awareness?

Understanding that words on a page have meaning.

Print Awareness is when a child recognizes that the 'scribbles' and 'squigglies' on a paper have meaning and relate to the words we speak orally.

pre reading print awareness

To help foster Print Awareness in your children, here are some ideas for multiple age groups:

Infants & Young Toddlers

-Read books often, holding them in front of your child (while he/she is in your lap).  This way, you are able to model how to hold the book and how to turn the page.

-Talk about the use of books with young toddlers.  Do books go on our head?  Do we use a book to dry our hands?  No!  Books are for reading!

-Run your finger below the text you are reading in a simple board book, emphasizing the left to right, up and down progression that reading takes.

-Write your child's name on his/her drawings.  Run your finger under the letters as you say them.  This reinforces the idea that the word printed on the paper, also means their name.

Toddlers (2 & 3 year olds)

-Read lots of books!  Model how to hold a book upright and turn the page.

-Use big books when reading aloud.  Run your finger under the words, helping your child learn that the printed word has a meaning.

-Play silly games to emphasize the use of books.  For example, hold the book upside down and see if your child notices.  Make a big silly fuss about it ~ 'It's upside down!  Thats not how we read a book!  Oops!'.

-Allow your child to see you reading and writing.  Talk about why you are reading and writing.

-Create a print-rich environment.  Meaning, create an environment that has printed words all around and point them out to your child.

-When out for a stroll, point out street signs and stop signs.  Explain that the letters on a stop sign tell cars to STOP!

-Place your child's name on a sticky note and stick to his/her door, chair and anything else they use.  Read it as you go by.

-Show your child different types of print.  Books, magazines, newspapers, digital print, labels, recipes, mail, instructions and ads.

Pre-Readers (4 & 5 year olds)

-Write a morning message on a dry erase board.  Have your child help you read it.  Focus on modeling how to point at each word from a left to right and top to bottom progression.

-Write in front of your child.  Explain the reasons you are writing and what it says.

-Create an environmental print book.  These are usually the first books a child is able to read because they are reading familiar words from their environment.  A great resource for a printable environmental print book can be found at: Splendor in Kinder

-Label everything in your child's environment.  This helps children connect a word to an object.

-Give your child some post-its and have them label things!  Try asking him/her to make seating arrangement cards for dinner.  It is okay if words are not spelled correctly or appear as scribbles and symbols.  It is just important that your child is connecting that words on paper have a meaning.

-Show your child different types of print.  Books, magazines, newspapers, digital print, labels, recipes, mail, instructions and ads.

-Encourage your child to read a favorite book from memory.

-Help your child write their name.  Label personal objects with your child's name.

-When out and about, take a moment to stop and read a sign, product box or a flyer.

Have other great PRINT AWARENESS activity ideas?  Leave a comment below!