- digital camera or camera and film
- laminating machine or clear contact paper
- pocket chart
- small tote bag
- visual discrimination
- gaining meaning from pictures, symbols and print
Photograph a variety of signs children see every day. You might photograph the name of the school, classroom signs, exit signs, bathroom signs, traffic, safety, or community business signs. Make four copies of the photos and laminate or cover three sets with clear contact paper for use in the following activities.
- Place one set of photographed signs in a pocket chart. Show the signs to children during a group meeting. Ask if they have seen any of the signs and where. Read the signs and tell what they mean.
- Have each child find a partner. Give each pair of children a photo of a sign in their room. Children are given the task of walking around the room to find a sign that matches the one they are holding. Read the sign and tell what it means. With seven or eight signs, each child should be involved.
- Place two packs of laminated signs in the manipulative-play area. Without directions, children will use these, matching those that are alike or sorting them in ways known only to them.
- Work with small groups of children to make a class Sign Book. Children can take turns pasting copies of unlaminated signs on pieces of oaktag. Take dictation as children tell you about the sign. Write their words on the bottom of the oaktag. Make a cover for the book and bind pages together. Read the Sign Book to the group. Children can read the page they made. Keep the book in the library area.
- Remember: Three- and 4-year-olds are just learning to read pictures and symbols. Do not expect children to recognize signs right away, or even after many repetitions. The idea is only to familiarize children with the idea that pictures, symbols, and letters stand for words they say.
Place the Sign Book in a small tote bag and take turns sending it home with each child. Place a note in the book telling how and why the book was made with the suggestion that children and parents read it together. Staple a blank sheet of paper in the back of the book titled "Your Comments" so family members can write their ideas about their children's work.
Curriculum Connection: Art
To promote the idea that children gain knowledge through signs, label art materials and areas. A sign could be made with a picture of scissors and the word scissors to label the scissor area, another for glue, collage materials, paints, and so on. Children learn that they gain meaning through pictures, symbols and print by drawing, painting, and constructing their own art work. After a walk around the school to locate signs children can paint, draw or build the things they observed.
At the Laundromat
by Christine Loomis (Scholastic Inc.; $4.95)
I Read Signs
by Tana Hoban (William Morrow, 1987; $5.99)
by Susan Canizares and Pamela Chanko (Scholastic Inc.; $3.25)