Bringing the Outdoors Inside the Classroom

For elementary students, learning how to read and recognize letters, numbers and signs can be a difficult task for many. Many times kindergarten and first grade students are having enough trouble staying awake all day and following a schedule of different subjects and specials. An interesting lesson plan which can be used in the school classroom or home learning environment is bringing outdoor signs and symbols in.

From the simple red octagonal shape stop sign to the triangular red and white yield sign, these two street signs can teach a young learner shapes, symbols, meaning, and reading. If a child is having trouble understanding the concept of reading by putting letters together to form sounds and words, an exercise like this can help boost their self-confidence.

Learning to read is not easy for every student. Not everyone can read a book at the first grade level but if a child learns to read signs, this is also considered a form of reading. Sign reading is important if a child should get lost and benefits from this skill later on in life.

In the early elementary grades, many students place themselves into three categories, the readers, the writers, and the illiterate. Having pictures of the outside signs like McDonalds, Speed Limit, Do Not Enter, and One Way are all forms of reading and can help increase the students reading level.

According to Patricia M. Cunningham, author of Phonics They Use, “Young children enjoy showing what they have learned in school, and environmental print gives them that opportunity each day even if they do not come from homes with books and magazines.”

By using environmental print or outdoor signs, children can read logos, brand names, and everyday signage which make them feel good about themselves as a student. At a young age, children need to practice their reading skills no matter how or where it is done. For more information, refer to