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Lesson Plan

From Stop Signs to the Golden Arches: Environmental Print

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From Stop Signs to the Golden Arches: Environmental Print

Grades K – 1
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Ten to Twenty 15-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Students are introduced to signs and other familiar environmental print through books, a Website, or an online gallery. Over the next several weeks, students bring in examples of environmental print and share them with their classmates. Once enough examples are collected, students sort them into categories such as food, traffic signs, etc., and create a book for each category. Artifacts that students bring in from restaurants can also be combined with photographs of the restaurants themselves to create a riddle book. Prominent display of the books created in this lesson gives students plenty of opportunities to practice their reading skills and view themselves as competent readers and users of print.

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Street Sign Gallery: Use this online gallery to show students signs and have them explain what they mean.

Parent Letter: This letter prompts parents to share information about their child's reading of environmental print.

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In Month-By-Month Reading and Writing for Kindergarten, Cunningham and co-writer Dorothy Hall suggest using environmental print: "Young children enjoy showing what they have learned in school, and environmental print gives them that opportunity each day even if they do not come from homes with books and magazines."  Marjorie Siegel points out that young children rely on complex multimodal systems as they read environmental print. Referencing a 1984 study by Harste et al., Siegel writes  "As they observed children making sense of environmental print, they realized that for children, text is not limited to the printed marks but is part of a 'sign complex formed by print and other communication systems in relation to situational context' (p. 169)"

The primary goal of this lesson is to encourage children to see themselves as readers as they discover all of the environmental print that they are already capable of reading.

Further Reading

Siegel, Marjorie. "Rereading the Signs: Multimodal Transformations in the Field of Literacy Education." Language Arts 84.1 (September 2006): 65-77.


Hall, Dorothy P. and Patricia M. Cunningham. 1997. Month-By-Month Reading and Writing for Kindergarten: Systematic, Multilevel Instruction. Greensboro, NC: Carson-Dellosa Publishing.

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