In an effort to raise phonemic awareness, teachers are presented with the challenge of providing their students with a print-rich environment that will provide their students with a variety of opportunities to see, read and most importantly interact with written words. How do we go about it? Let me explain how I provide my students with opportunities to engage with text all. day. long.
What Is A Print-Rich Environment?
A print-rich environment provides students with exemplar examples of text that is meaningful, used in real life and applicable throughout the day. This can be achieved through the use of an interactive word wall, by labeling the classroom furniture and with the use of manipulatives.
Through this exposure, your students will begin to see that that printed text carries meaning which will then instill a desire to learn to read, write and speak those words independently.
How can I encourage students to interact with printed text?
1. Display a Truly Interactive Word Wall
Most classrooms display a traditional Word Wall with high frequency sight words, but are those word walls truly interactive? Why not take the philosophy of the Word Wall one step further and display phonemes?
Many students enter the classroom at the start of the year knowing most of their letter sounds. They are ready and expected to learn phonemes (letter combinations) like those pictured above.
In our Word Study groups, whole group phonics lessons and during our small guided reading groups, we explore and discover many spelling patterns that we encounter in our work together.
You will notice that the word family (phoneme) houses pictured above are a collection of post-its. These post-its are evidence of our work. We proudly display our interactions with text so we can refer to them later when needed.
In the last photograph, you will see one student interacting with the Phonics Word Wall as she copies the spelling of a word from Long Vowel Lane. She is interacting and engaged with our print-rich classroom independently during Writer’s Workshop.
You can learn more about our True Interactive Phonics Word Wall by visiting HERE.
2. Label the Classroom Environment
The process of labeling the classroom can be a tedious one, but it has many benefits. As your students interact with the classroom furniture, supplies and materials they will begin to associate the printed words with real-life meaning.
They will begin to notice and recognize spelling patterns and sounds that are common among every day words. With this, they will associate those common sounds and phonemes as they encounter new words in text and apply those same patterns in their own writing. After all, if you know how to globe then you can certainly spell robe!
To help you get started on this task of labeling your classroom, I have created these color-coded labels that are yours FREE to download! You can download them HERE.
If you would like to learn more about the unique color-coded system I used in these classroom labels to help my students identify the different types of phonemes, you can visit this blog post: Gumball Phonics©. You’ll find another freebie!
3. Allow Students to Manipulate Sounds
Provide your students with opportunities to manipulate sounds in your literacy centers. Manipulatives such as magnets and letter tiles and beads allow students to engage with letter sounds and phonemes in a hands-on manner that will increase phonemic awareness.
The Word Study Centers pictured above are a favorite of mine because they can be used with any spelling list or spelling curriculum. They also offer visual as well as written directions that will encourage independence at the stations. You can find them HERE.
I would love to hear what resources and strategies you use to help engage your young readers and writers to build phonemic awareness in an engaging way. Please leave a comment below!
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