A literacy-rich preschool classroom supports the emergent literacy of the age group through interaction with letters and words. Literacy involves more than simply reading to preschool children; speaking, writing and reading words combine to create literacy. The arrangement and components of a preschool classroom affect the level of literacy the environment encourages in the students who spend time there.
Walls of Print
A literacy-rich preschool brings the walls alive with different forms of print. The standard alphabet chart is a staple, but other signs and displays containing words are also useful. A word wall is a way to start introducing those basic sight words the kids will see as they begin reading. Posted classroom rules and schedules also incorporate print, as does labeling everything in the preschool classroom, from the door to the trash can. Arrange the print materials at a preschooler's eye level, when possible.
A Class Library
The preschool classroom library collection should include books from all genres, including picture books, non-fiction books and cross-curricular pieces that weave in elements of math, science, history and other subject areas. Early Childhood News suggests at least four books per child in the room; for a class of 15, this means at least 60 books in the class library. Rotating the books and including books you read aloud keeps the library interesting. Set up low shelves so the students can access the books easily and create a comfortable reading spot in or near the library.
Literacy Learning Centers
A listening center can offer books on tape along with the corresponding book and headphones so kids can follow along. A writing center can include a desk or table with paper, writing utensils, letter stencils and print for students to copy. Props in dramatic play areas can include print, such as restaurant menus or words on food boxes in a play store. When a center involves steps to complete a task, such as an art project or a science experiment, instructions can display both pictures and words explaining the process.
Homemade books give the kids a simple option to practice many aspects of literacy. Writing the words focuses on letter identification and building words. Constructing the book emphasizes the parts of a book and print conventions, such as where to write the words and reading left to right. A selection of literacy games that involve using and identifying letters and words offer access to the students for practicing those concepts. Examples include letter-matching games and word-building with letter tiles.
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