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Lesson Plan

Stop Signs, McDonald's, and Cheerios: Writing With Environmental Print

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Prior, Ph.D.

Jennifer Prior, Ph.D.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Maureen Gerard

Maureen Gerard

Phoenix, Arizona


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Discussion of Print in the Environment

Session 2: Writing a Book Using Local Images

Session 3: Creating an Original Little Book With Environmental Print Words


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Develop word recognition and fluency by identifying and discussing familiar print in the environment, by taking note of individual letters in the words, and by segmenting the sounds of these letters

  • Practice writing skills by creating captions to accompany familiar environmental symbols that have been selected for them and those that they choose themselves

  • Practice early reading success by reading their own writing aloud

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Session 1: Discussion of Print in the Environment

1. Display the items you have assembled to share and those that your students have brought in (see Preparation, Steps 2 and 6). Ask students to identify each of them. Ask how they know the name of the item and have student volunteers point to the words on the packaging.

2. Use the words on the items you have brought in to draw students’ attentions to the letters and sounds. For example:
  • How do you know this box says BAND-AID?

  • What letter do you see at the beginning?

  • What sounds does the letter b make?

  • Is that the sound you hear at the beginning of BAND-AID?

  • What is another word that begins with the same sound?

3. Slowly segment the sounds made by each environmental print word and have students call out the letter for each sound. Draw students’ attentions to the different sounds that the same letter can make. For example:
  • What other letters do you see in the word BAND-AID?

  • What are the sounds that you hear in BAND-AID?

  • Do you see the letter a here in BAND-AID says /ă/, but the letter a here says its name /ā/.
4. Proceed in this manner with each of the items. Draw students’ attentions to the fact that often a letter appears in different ways. For example, sometimes a letter might be written in cursive. Sometimes the same letter is big and red. The same letter can look different when it appears in different words.

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Session 2: Writing a Book Using Local Images

1. Display the transparency of the Stapleless Book (see Preparation, Step 4). Distribute the copies you made to your students.

2. Review each of the images, asking students to say the environmental print word or words. Ask them how they know the word. What letter do they see at the beginning of the word? What sound does that letter make? As you work through the pages, you should turn the transparency so that students are looking at the image the right way up.

3. Next, explain to students that they should add captions or write sentences to go with each image.

4. Using the transparency and a marker, model completing this task with the first image. Be sure to include the environmental print word or words in your caption. For example, if the image is of your school’s sign, you might write, “I am a teacher at Westside Elementary School.” Ask students to help you compose the caption for the other three images, writing on the transparency as you go. Again, make sure you turn the transparency so that the image you are working on is facing the right direction.

5. Students should fill in their own Stapleless Book sheets. Circulate and assist them as needed. When they are finished, show them how to fold and cut the book.

6. Ask students to read their completed books out loud.

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Session 3: Creating an Original Little Book With Environmental Print Words

1. Have students choose six images from the collection you have assembled (see Preparation, Steps 1 and 2).

2. Students should then access the Stapleless Book. They should title their books "My Little Book." Help them create the pages using the same templates you did when you made yours. Explain that they will glue one of the logos they have chosen onto each page and should write captions or sentences to accompany the logos as they did during Session 2. They should use the words that appear in the images in each caption and should number each page. You may choose to have them write the page numbers on the back of the images they have chosen, to help them match up the pages and the images correctly. Make sure studnets print their books when they are done.

3. When the books are printed, students should glue the signs or logos onto the proper pages and should fold and cut them as they did during Session 2.

4. Have students pair up to read their books to each other.

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  • For further development of word recognition and fluency, invite students to read their completed books to students in another class.

  • Have students take their completed books home to read to family members as homework.

  • Extend what students have learned by playing Environmental Print Bingo with students. “Bingo! Using Environmental Print to Teach Reading” has students make Bingo cards using the logos from this lesson.

  • The lesson plan “From Stop Signs to the Golden Arches: Environmental Print” provides students with additional practice reading environmental print. After collecting examples and sorting them into categories, students make a class book.

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  • Observe students’ participation during the group activities, especially to their ability to read logo words and identify letters and sounds. Pay close attention to how easily students segment and hear the sounds of the letters in each environmental print word.

  • During Session 2, observe as students make attempts to write decontextualized words. Make note of any difficulty they experience with particular letters.

  • Review both books each student creates. Check for length of captions or sentences. In the second one, make sure they have pasted the correct images to accompany their text. Observe temporary spellings in the book to assess the stage of writing development for each student. When necessary, assist the student in clarifying his or her understanding.

  • On a class list, note which letters are recognized readily by which students. In addition, note what types of text are added to students’ books. Make note of your assessment of the stage of writing development.


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