This video segment from Between the Lions features Sloppy Pop singing "Read the Signs," a catchy song that points out the words we see ...
Between the Lions: "The Carrot Seed"
This media asset was adapted from the Between the Lions show "The Carrot Seed."
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- Take a neighborhood walk, and watch out for signs. Read the signs, and explain their meanings. Some signs may be familiar: "STOP," "ENTER," "EXIT," "WALK," "NO PARKING," "ONE WAY," "CAUTION," "DANGER," etc. Take photos of these signs, or have children sketch them. Create a bulletin board, slide show, or photo album. Call attention to the letters and sounds these important words contain. For example: See the “top" in STOP? N-O spells “no." How can we change the ONE WAY sign to make it say “NO WAY"?
- Ask children to look for road signs when they are riding in a car or bus. Do they see the same signs repeatedly? What do the signs say?
- Point out signs in the classroom and discuss what they mean and why they are there. See if children want to create more signs for the classroom. Many students like to add “Do not touch!!!!" signs to their block buildings or special creations.
- Help children create signs like those we see outside for a blocks or building area: "ONE WAY," "STOP," "NO PARKING," etc. Popsicle sticks, card stock, and clay for bases are easy to transform into signs.
- Book recommendations include:
I Read Signs by Tana Hoban
Road Signs by Margery Cuyler
Taking a Walk/Caminando: A Book in Two Languages/Un Libro en Dos Lenguas by Rebecca Emberley
This song celebrates the fact that print in the environment has an important purpose: it holds information and messages for all. Children who have seen adults do lots of meaningful reading and writing come to school with an appreciation for what print is and does. In fact, one of the strongest predictors of children's success in learning to read and write is the amount of exposure to print they have had before kindergarten. In classrooms that foster early literacy, examples of print can be found everywhere: in books, wall displays, labels, and signs. Teachers write messages to inform students of the day’s activities, label cubbies and other materials, create class lists and sign-up sheets, and make signs to indicate where things go. They use print for real purposes in day-to-day classroom life, building children’s awareness of the print around them and guiding them to make sense of it.
Even outside, there are important things to read. Literacy research reveals that many children learn to recognize print in the environment, especially certain signs, as their first accomplishment in reading. Stop signs, and the signs and logos for McDonald’s, DUNKIN’ DONUTS, and JELL-O, for example, contain the first words read by many toddlers. Once they have an appreciation for the way print helps us find, remember, and use the resources around us, children have a context that motivates the learn-to-read process.
When adults point out various signs and call attention to their words and letters, children’s alphabet knowledge can be strongly reinforced. Children who know the first letter of their name, for example, will enjoy finding it on license plates or in words on signs. These connections can be made outside, on the bus or subway, in a store, and in the classroom. We know that learning the letters of the alphabet is essential for beginning readers, and we also know that this is a complex and difficult task. Experts advise teachers to connect alphabet songs and drills to alphabet uses as a way of inspiring and reinforcing these developing skills. Furthermore, if teachers introduce rhyming and sound deletion games as they point out various signs and words, phonemic awareness—the ability to segment and manipulate word sounds—can also take shape.
- What words rhyme with stop? hop, mop, pop, top
- What’s STOP without the /s/? top
- What if we say the sounds backwards? pots
- What is “donut" without the “do"? nut
- What is “dunkin" without the “in"? dunk
A child develops print awareness by interacting with printed text, first realizing that this text carries a message, and later recognizing that the symbols on it are letters, which make words that hold the message. Children in any class will have had different amounts of experience, and some will need extra coaching before the concept is clear. Experts urge teachers to begin with the large picture—the purposes of reading and writing, and how the written word functions in our daily lives. With the big picture in mind, children are then more likely to want to know how reading and writing work, and how letters and sounds come together to form words and messages.
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K (Kindergarten ): Reading
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K (Kindergarten ): Foundational Skills
(Kindergarten ): Print Concepts
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K.1 (Kindergarten ): Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K.1 (Kindergarten ): Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
- (Kindergarten ): Print Concepts
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K (Kindergarten ): Foundational Skills