Print Awareness for Pre-K

What is Print Awareness?

Photo of a young girl holding a book.

Print awareness is understanding the organization of print.  Print awareness is also known as “print concepts” and “concepts of print”.

In pre-k, children demonstrate print awareness by:

  • Recognizing print or words in the environment.
  • Recognizing print has meaning or tells us something.
  • Pointing to and naming a book's front cover, back cover, pages, and spine.
  • Running a finger along words from left to right.
  • Turning the pages of a book one at a time in the correct order.
  • Recognizing that words are made of letters.

What Does it Look Like?

How can families support print awareness?

How can a child show they have print awareness?

Practice Activities

Introduce a Book: Each time you read a book to the child, point to and name parts of the book: front cover, back cover, title, and spine.

Author and Illustrator: Share the author's and illustrator's name(s) of book read, describing each of their jobs.  An author writes the words and the illustrator creates pictures for us to see.

Left to Right: Move your finger under each word as you read.  Invite the child to move their finger with yours.  When you turn a page, ask the child where you should start reading.

Words are Made of Letters: Point to a nearby word and talk about how many letters make up the word in a meaningful way (e.g., The word cat starts with C, just like your name.  The word cat has 1, 2, 3 letters.  Callie has six letters!).

Word or Letter Sort: Cut numbers and letters from print materials (e.g., magazines, newspaper, junk mail).  Have the child sort letters and numbers by placing letters in one pile and numbers in another.

Draw and Tell: Invite the child to draw with any available materials (e.g., crayons, chalk, pencils, markers).  After the child has finished, ask them to tell you about their drawing.  As they explain their creation, write what they say.  Read what you have written aloud to the child, connecting the child's spoken words to print.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

Print Awareness/Concepts: Observe the child while you read together and discuss print concepts (e.g., front of book, back of book, running finger under words).  Print Concepts Observation Checklist

Parent Tip Sheet: Support the development of print concepts while reading with the child.  A Parent's Guide to Print Concepts

Online Activities

Keep It Simple: This video shows basic print concepts using a popular children's book. Read the words to the child as you watch together.

Read the Signs: This Classroom Connection lesson includes reading signs. Continue reading signs where ever you go (e.g., school, store, place of worship, sporting event, park, library).

Concepts Lesson: This Classroom Connection lesson shows how print concepts are used during reading.

Puppy Paints Lesson: This Classroom Connection lesson includes practice with print concepts and the letter P.

Is It a Baby Animal?: This Classroom Connection lesson includes practice with print concepts and building vocabulary by sorting.

Reading Buddies PBS TV Series

PBS Reading Buddies

The Reading League’s Reading Buddies is an engaging foundational reading television series that cleverly teaches underlying components of skillful word reading such as phonological awareness, letter names/sounds, and blending sounds to decode words.