10 Easy Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment at Home

10 Easy, Quick & Effective Ways to Create a Print Rich Environment in Your Home

You might be at home with a child or children, and are just beginning to think of ways to enhance their learning with a print rich environment, and a learning-conducive home atmosphere.

There are some simple, but very effective ways that you can really kick it into high gear with learning, and even as the school year comes to a close that won't take much (if any!) of your time or money.

On top of that, you'll want to stimulate their sense of learning even through summer break, so that they won't "backslide" before the next school year.

To do that, you'll want to make an effort to "spice up" your home to make it into an excellent place for reading and learning. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.

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print rich environment

Before getting into our 10 ideas for a print/literacy rich environment, let's get a few questions answered.

What is a print rich environment?

Simply put, a print rich environment is exactly what it sounds like - an environment that is filled and surrounded with the written word. Not overwhelming, but an underlying presence in the home, visually and underlying.

Having a print rich environment in your home means that your child sees written letters and words wherever he looks, so that the written word becomes familiar and meaningful, even if not quite yet understood.

Why is a print rich environment important?

A big part of learning to read is in the desire to do it. When there are signs, labels, entertainment and instructions surrounding a person, a desire is born to learn to decipher these symbols that bring meaning to parts of life.

When that desire is sparked, the learning process has already begun! And being immersed in a print rich environment will go a long way in sustaining that desire.

Also, children learn well by rote memorization. As your child learns word by word, sounds, phonemes, phonics, letters, and words become a natural part of life. Words are learned "by sight" to help with fluency and comprehension, alongside a more formal reading instruction.

How do you create a print rich classroom environment?

Teachers can help create this environment of literacy in the classroom with similar techniques as are applied at home.

Consider how your children learn, and how they move in their classroom about the day. A corner or nook with books, lighting, and reading "tools" like bookmarks, dictionaries, magazines, of course books, and more will help to create that atmosphere.

Charts on the walls, labeling artwork, labeling various items in the room, and putting print in obvious places can also enhance an environment of literacy in a school classroom.

10 Quick Ways to Create a Print Rich Environment at Home

  • Have a home library filled with the right books.

This is of course the first thing you'll think of when you consider ways to make sure your home is print rich. Not all books are equal though, when it comes to which books you opt to bring into your home.

I'd classify books into three categories. And to make your home literacy filled, you'll want to include books from each of these categories.

    1. Books your child can read on her own. Depending on the age of your reader (and if she has any reading skills at all yet), you may want to look into "decodable" books to have readable books for your child.
    2. Above-level books with some readability and good pictures. To entice, and encourage higher reading.
    3. Books way above their reading level for you to read aloud to them. (I'd pick some that are fun and easy to read, and some that are classics, with richer details and more meaning. Just have a variety.)
  • Put magazines in seated areas.

Magazines (and I'll add comic books!) are a great idea for easy-to-read material that is easy to pick up in the middle and read a page or two. (Or just enjoy the pictures!)

Plus, there are a wide variety of magazines to fit interests for everyone. I'll put a few ideas below. You can choose anything from Kid's National Geographic to sports or Cooking. Just think of your child's interests, and then see if there is a corresponding magazine. I'll bet there is if you take a look around.

Think of places that your child parks throughout the house - the couch, bedroom, kitchen table, or the car, and those will be excellent places to scatter a few magazines or comics.

  • Label items around the house

This is such a great option for kids who are just learning to read. Put some labels around the house to "name" those items, and your child will become accustomed to the label and writing for that household item. 

You can label anything! A chair, table, clock, window, door, or whatever you can think of. Just doing this will bring more "print" into your home.

Bonus points if you laminate your labels for durability. 🙂

  • Signs and posters on the walls

You can order a few of these off of Amazon today! Think of things your child loves, and fill up their room or areas of the house with posters of whatever that thing is. 

The catch is to make sure those posters have print. Even just a few words or a line of writing will do. Every time your child stares at their new poster with the writing on it (and you've told them what it says), they'll learn that writing.

I remember when I was younger, I had an alphabet poster full of butterflies with a letter spelled on each wing. I had the whole alphabet in my room and I loved staring at that poster everyday! (I found it on Amazon, and it's not cheap ($40ish) but I'll post it here so you can see what I loved..

  • Board games

Board games are a great idea to keep around the house when you have kids and you are trying to create a literacy-filled environment. In your board game library, just be sure to pick out some that have words and opportunities for reading.

Some great ideas would be Scrabble, Pictionary, Monopoly or even Sight Words Pizza!

  • Video games

Don't you love that I put this one in there? You can relax a little bit about all your kid's gaming habits. One good thing that is happening while they play - they are learning to read a little bit here, too.

Kids are chatting with each other, and reading instructions as they play and learn to play. So, let's just chalk that up to a win! Extra great if you can get your kids playing some educational games.

  • Closed captioning

Something a little out of the box that I think can work wonders for a print-rich environment is to enable the closed captioning while your family watches tv!

Even while watching fun cartoons, if you enable closed captioning during the program, your child is essentially being read to while watching their shows. They won't even think about those words at the bottom after a while, but guess what? Their brains are certainly registering that print, and connecting that print to the words they are hearing.

Even though this is a great idea for the bigger tv in your living room, don't forget the other devices in your house, too.

  • Incentive charts and progress charts

If you have created any incentive charts to help with behavior, or chores, etc., be sure to maximize your efforts by putting plenty of writing on those charts.

If your child is very young, and cannot read yet, list the chores with a picture, but also add the word next to it so that he can connect that chore with the word you have written down.

If you have a list of incentives, write them out so that your child will be motivated with the written word to obtain the goals you have both set out together. And then, be sure to display them in the house - maybe on the refrigerator, or on a wall or bulletin board somewhere.

  • Photo album captions

Take a few minutes and go back through some photo albums to add captions onto some of the pictures. People's names, days and times, a short memory - these all written down can be great for encouraging your child to know what it says, and connect the words to the pictures and memories.

And it's a great bonding experience too! You can both sit down together and make it a project if you like. This is great opportunity to get those albums done, and make it beneficial for your child's education at the same time.

  • Older readers in the home read with actual books for leisure.

Reading for pleasure seems to be a lost art, and relegated to a thing of the past for many. I have to wonder if the fact that our children don't see us read has anything to do with this?

I noticed several years ago that while I was voraciously reading books from my iPad, my kids probably just thought I was checking e-mail or maybe playing Candy Crush. But really, I was deep in a good book.

I want my kids to see how happy reading makes me. How much I love to disappear into a good story that I can't put down. I want them to see that reading is important to me - that it fills up a part of me, bringing calm to my anxieties, puts a joy in my heart, and even takes me on wild adventures from home that I can share with them.

If they don't actually see the book in my hands, they may not know. So, I started reading with a book in hand again. I encourage you to do the same! This is a wonderful way to make your home a print rich environment.

Bonus ideas for creating a home that encourages reading, writing and learning:

If you can spend a little bit of money in your quest to fill your home with print and opportunities for reading, I'd encourage you to get those creative juices flowing, and make an awesome reading nook area for your child!

It can be in their room, under the stairs, in the living room, or under a cabinet or table. It doesn't matter - just make it something super-cool and fun! Create it with lights, books, and a cozy place to sit. You can check out this article on creating a kid's reading nook to get more ideas.

You've made it to the end of this article filled with ideas to create a home that is a literacy-rich, print rich environment, so you are already well on your way.

Come up with some ideas of your own that are creative and perfect for your family! And then be sure to share with us in the comments below.

Happy reading and creating!