Creating a literacy-rich classroom environment is essential for pupils developing early reading and writing skills. Children should be provided with many opportunities to explore a wide variety of literacy tools and materials. Offer pupils an array of books, manipulatives and writing materials to use and introduce new items throughout the year. Decorate your classroom with purposeful literacy displays to surround your pupils with print.
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Stock your classroom with a wide variety of books and other print material for pupils to read and explore. To accommodate the different reading levels in your classroom, make sure your collection contains books for three to four grade levels. It is also important to have about five to eight books per pupil to provide them with selection. Books should cover a range of genres and topics. Include age-appropriate books such as alphabet books; rhyming books; picture books; nursery rhymes; cross-curricular books about science, math and social studies; chapter books; joke books; poetry anthologies; and class-made books.
Expose children to other sources of print such as magazines, menus, recipes, lists and letters. Set up a listening centre with books on tapes or CDs.
Provide pupils with manipulatives to help them with spelling and reading. Magnetic letters can be stored and used on baking trays. Provide pupils with letter tiles to create words. Reading rods help pupils learn concepts like prefixes and suffixes. Have alphabet puzzles for pupils to assemble, and provide them with word games such as Scrabble and Boggle.
Pupils need tables to write at and a variety of tools to use. Stock your writing centre with pencils, pens, crayons and markers. Give pupils lined and blank paper to write on, as well as notebooks, sticky notes, stationery and envelopes. Have computers available for pupils to use, and let them write on miniature chalkboards and white boards. Provide them with writing folders to store their works in progress. Set out materials pupils can use to make their own books, including card stock for covers.
Surround pupils with print by labelling items in the classroom with pictures and words. Place labels on shelves so pupils know where things belong. Label objects like chairs and tables. Use walls or notice boards to create an alphabet display, word wall and birthday display. Post a large calendar and the class schedule as well. Use a notice board to display pupils' completed work. Post signs in your classroom such as class rules and editing checklists. Make signs to label areas in your classroom such as the writing centre. Post charts with songs, chants or poems the class is learning.
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- Get Ready to Read: Classroom Literacy Environment Checklist; National Center for Learning Disabilities
- Reading Rockets: Literacy-Rich Environments; 2007
- Western Kentucky University: Checklist for Evaluation the Classroom Literacy Environment
- Lower Hudson Regional Information Center: "Creating a Literacy-Rich Classroom"; E. Gillett; 2006