Functional Print Books
Environmental Print


Functional Print Books

Use some of these ideas to help children understand the importance of reading and writing every day.

Things the Teacher Needs to Know

Functional Print Books

Write “Important Things” on a spiral notebook.  When a child comes to you to complain or tattle, hand them the book and say, “Write it all down and don’t leave out a thing.  I’ll read it later on when I have more time.”
*Get old tax forms from the library and ask children to fill them out if they have a complaint about someone!



Rule Book
After discussing school rules, ask each child to come up with a rule that they think is important.  Have them illustrate their rule and write or dictate a sentence to go with it.  Put their rules together to make a class book.  Hang the book in an important spot in your classroom and refer to it when children are behaving inappropriately.  You open the book and say,

“You need to do (such and such). 
The rule is right here in our book!”

New Shoes
Invite children to write a story or draw a picture in this book when they get a new pair of shoes!

The Tooth Book
Have children draw a picture of what they look like after they lose a tooth.  Remind them to be sure and draw a “window” in their mouth where their tooth used to be!

Weather Report
Choose a different child each day to be the meteorologist.  Have the weather person record the weather by writing a sentence or drawing a picture in your book.
The Birthday Book
Have children write a story and draw a picture on a special page in this book when it’s their birthday.   (You could also take a photo of them.)

Boo Boo Book

The Boo Boo Book
If a child gets a little scrape or scratch, have them draw a picture of it in this book.  Give them a band aid to put on their “boo boo” so it will feel better.

Acts of Kindness
Create a book where children can record kind deeds their fellow classmates have done. 
Hint!  The teacher can model this by “catching children” in the act of doing something thoughtful and loving for others.

Super Star
Have children draw a picture and write about it when they do something that makes them feel proud and special.

Kiss Your Brain!
When children learn to do something or answer questions creatively, encourage them to sign their name and write about it in this book.

Big News
Record exciting events in children’s lives (like becoming a big brother or sister) with this class book.

Class Phone Book
Give each child a sheet of paper and ask them to write their name at the top and their phone number at the bottom.  Have them draw a picture of themselves or attach a photo to the middle of the page.  Cut the front and back off your local phone book and use for the cover of the book.  Punch holes and bind with book rings.

Put Ups
If a child says something unkind about a classmate or puts them down, ask them to write a positive comment or “put up” in your book.

Peace Talks
This is a great idea to encourage conflict resolution.  When two children have a disagreement, have them sit next to each other at a table with a spiral notebook open in front of them.  Ask each child to write/draw their version of what happened on their side of the book.  When they’ve “resolved” their conflict, they may come to you with their solution.

Excuse Book
Do you get tired of hearing excuses about forgotten homework, running in the hall, etc.?  Keep a blank book on your desk and ask children write their excuses so you don’t have to listen to them!

Acceptable Words
You will need a school dictionary for this idea.  (Check to make sure
that it’s pretty basic and there are no “dirty” words in it.)  Explain that
the school dictionary contains all the words that are allowed in the school.  Sometimes people use other words when they are at home or on television, but they are not acceptable at school.  When a child says a dirty word, challenge them to “look it up” in the dictionary.  “I guess it’s not there, so you can’t use it at school!”

Have children use journals to record what they did at school each day.  They can also keep reading journals of books they read, science journals of experiments and observations, or math journals with incredible equations.

Create forms children can fill out with their name, date of birth, eye color, hair color, address, phone, etc.  (Vary according their ability.)

Environmental Print


You can use catalogs, magazines, store flyers, food boxes, clothes labels, photographs, etc. to capture children’s interest in print.

Photos from School and Community – Take pictures around your school and community and use them for a bulletin board or a book.


I Can Read

I Can Read!  Make a blank book for each child where they can cut out and glue words that they can read.  You could also let them “save” words they can read in a zip bag.


I Like!  Ask children to cut out labels from food they like, such as cereal,
candy wrappers, snack foods, etc.   Write “I” on one index card and “like” on another index card for each child.   Children spread out the cards and add food labels as they make sentences that they can read.  For example:  “I like Gold Fish.”  Attach magnetic tape to the back of the cards and logos for children to use at home on their refrigerators.

Eating the ABC’s – Take 26 sheets of paper and write a different letter on each page.  Make a front and back cover for the book.  Children bring in wrappers and glue them under the appropriate letter.
Hint!  This is really fun to make with candy wrappers after Halloween.


Box Tops

Box Tops – Have children bring in empty food boxes from home.  Cut the fronts and backs off the boxes.  Mix them up, and then ask the children to match the fronts and the backs.  You could also play a memory game with the box tops by placing them face down on the floor. 

Coupons – Bring in the Sunday paper and let the children cut out the coupons.  Children can sort the coupons or use them in the housekeeping area or math center.

Signs – Make traffic signs for the block center.  Attach to toilet paper rolls so they will stand up.  (You can find these at “google images.”)

Store Signs

Store Signs – Cut store logos from the Sunday paper and tape them to blocks.  Children can use these to build shopping centers.


Clothes – Read labels on clothes children wear to school, such as T-shirts, sports shoes, etc.

Seasonal Words – Display seasonal and holiday words with picture clues in the writing center.

Walk and Read – Walk around the school and make a list of words that you see.

Newspaper – Let children highlight words or cut out words they can read.

Snack Food Wrappers – Have children save wrappers from snack foods.  Sort, graph, put prices on them and buy with play money.  Look for new vocabulary words on the wrappers, write sense sentences (“It looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes …”), make books, etc.

Fast Food Song – Collect sacks or napkins from restaurants and use to sing the “Pizza Hut” song.


Old Mother Hubbard


Old Mother Hubbard – Write the verse below on each page and glue on the wrapper.  Put together to make a book children will BEG to read!

Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone,
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had food wrapper.

*Hint! has some great logos to download.

Pictures, Letters, Words – Use environmental print to help children differentiate pictures, letters, and words.  Fold a sheet of paper into a brochure (tri-fold).  Let children cut out pictures, letters, and words from old magazines and newspapers.  They can glue the pictures in the first section, letters in the second section, and words in the third section.
*Use highlighting tape or markers to find pictures, words, and letters on big books and posters.

Next Page