Print Awareness

Research has shown that a child's ability to identify letters by name (letter knowledge) is one of the most important predictors of the child's success in learning to read.  Phonemic awareness is also a predictor of subsequent reading and spelling performance.  Children should be given every opportunity to learn the names of letters as well as the sounds that the letters represent.  Children should be provided opportunities to hear the rhythm and beauty of their language through literature and, especially, poetry.  Repetition of poetry aids in memorization of the poems.

Poetry should be recited each day by the teacher until the children can say it with the teacher.  A copy of the poem can be placed on the back of an appropriate picture.  The picture keeps the children's attention as the teaacher presents the poem.  And the poem printed on the back of the picture will aid the teacher in memorizing the poem.

Each month a list of letter names, sounds, and words is identified that can be introduced to the children.  Use velveteen letters to teach the names of the letters and the sounds.  Words are written on sentence strips in the same manuscript letter style as the velveteen letters.  A model or picture of the object that the word represents is also helpful to show the children as the word is being introduced.  For example, when the word "cat" is taught, a picture of a Halloween cat is shown to the children.

Children respond orally with the teacher.  By responding orally they are able to retain the information longer.  Overt responses (responses that can be seen and/or heard by the teacher) increase the accuracy, the retention, and the comprehension of the learner.  The oral response also helps the teacher know which child is responding confidently and which child needs more practice.

A quick pace is maintained.  The children are exposed in brief, quick exercises that letters do have names, that they represent sounds, and that sounds can be blended into words.  The children are not necessarily learning the names, sounds, or words--although some children will.


Great music refines the ear; great art refines the eye; and great literature refines the mind.  When children are read to by parents and teachers, they develop a sense of literary and artistic appreciation.  They hear the changing sounds and feel the rhythm in their language.

A teacher should make a conscious effort to provide reading materials for the children in the classroom.  Not only should hard cover books be available, but soft cover books, magazines, catalogs, and newspapers should be placed in a special part of the room.  Small chairs and tables, or bean bag chairs or mats could be placed in the "book area" so children can stay and browse through many books if they wish.

Children should be read aloud to daily.  Reading to children makes them curious, provides added experiences, and aids in the acquisition of early reading skills.

A few examples are listed below.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola.

Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

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