20 Tips for Teaching Concepts of Print

Chances are, you’re either a parent or early childhood educator trying to understand more about concepts of print.  If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Let’s take a look at what concepts of print are, tips, activities, and how to assess young children.

What is Concepts of Print

When teachers refer to a concept of print, they are referencing how print works, or a kids’ ability to understand print, text, or written language.

Elements of Concepts of Print:

  • Identifying parts of a book: Front, back, cover, title page, etc. 
  • Finding the title on the front cover and the title page
  • Book awareness: Knowing where the words are
  • Understanding the different symbols (numbers vs. letters)
  • Where to start reading and writing
  • Idea of directionality:  Following print from left-to-right
  • Swooping down after getting to the end of a line. This is also known as the return sweep
  • Pointing and reading one-to-one (pointing to one word as one word is spoken)
  • The first and last word on each page
  • Knowing how to tell the start and end of a sentence.
  • Turning pages from right to left
  • Understanding a space separates words
  • Identifying the first and last letter of a word
  • Knowing the purpose of capital letters and punctuation


Tips for Teaching Concepts of Print

As an essential foundation of reading, it’s important for parents and teachers to help the kids develop these early reading and writing skills. When you teach children how books work, they will gain the basic understandings of reading.

  • Do read alouds every day 
  • Use pointers to track print:  Don’t have pointers?  Craft sticks work perfect for this. 
  • Follow along on audio:  Let the kids follow along to their favorite stories on audio. I love playing books for them on  Audible. Try it and get 2 free audiobooks, here.
  • Read or sing a Poem of the Day: Point to the words as the kids recite the familiar poems and nursery rhymes. 
  • Expose the kids to various types and sizes of books: board books, magazines, big books, touch and feel books, flap books, picture books, and even books on their favorite tablets
  • Build a print rich environment
  • Reference environmental print often: Point out letters and words on their favorite cereal or snack boxes, read aloud street signs, familiar restaurant signs, toy packaging, etc.
  • Record a Morning Message or Daily News
  • Model fluency and expression often: You can learn more about teaching punctuation marks here. (period, question mark, exclamation marks, etc)
  • Highlight text features:  Let the kids use highlighters, highlighting tape, crayons, or their favorite gel pens to highlight or circle text features.  
  • Build alphabet awareness  
  • Do shared reading activities:  Encourage kids to participate in predictions, picture talks, etc. 


Activities and Tips for Concepts of Print Awareness

Do you want the perfect way to build a love of reading?  Here are some fun ways for kids to become successful readers throughout the school year.  

Letter and Number Sorting

Give the kids a mixed up set of magnetic letters and numbers.  Then, have them sort them into two groups (numbers and letters).

Making Words  

These printable worksheets are great for building vocabulary, concepts of print, and early writing skills. 

practice concepts of print with Making Words worksheets

Alphabet Letter Hunt

Grab these printable Letter Hunt worksheets to begin practicing concepts of print, today!

Building Sentences

These printable Building Sentences worksheets for perfect for kids who are learning about what makes a sentence.  

apple facts for kids worksheets

Book Walks  

Book walks, or picture walks, are when you have the kids walk through the book, starting at the first page, and tell what they see happening in the pictures.

Who has front cover/back cover?

Have the kids put their hands in their laps, then put a book in front of each of them (mixing up who has a front cover or back cover facing up). They look to see if they have a front cover facing up or a back cover.  Tell them, “if you see the front cover of your book, hold it up.”  Repeat for the back cover.  Keep the game going by letting the kids pass a book to their friend.


Build a Poems

 This is one of THE BEST ways to help your kids become fluent readers!  If you don’t want to purchase the pocket chart poems, you can write the words on a sentence strip and cut it apart yourself. 

The kids absolutely love building their favorite nursery rhyme or poem using the large print word cards.  Get a FREE Build a Poem, HERE


Encourage journal writing

Kids are never too young to start journal writing.  If they are in their toddler years, give them crayons and let them draw (scribble) as you talk about pictures in a book. 

As they progress to emergent writing skills, encourage them to write everyday.   These Would You Rather Questions make perfect journal prompts.  

Here is a kindergarten writing sample, written by Zander. His mom has been working with him at home to prepare him for a kindergarten writing test he will have at the end of the year. He has demonstrated the basic knowledge of print awareness skills, and is ready for first grade!


Zander of has excellent spacing, punctuation, and inventive spelling. Plus, he added illustrations to help tell his storing of going fishing. Great job, Zander (and mom for encouraging your kid to write at home).


Concepts of Print Informal Assessment

When your kiddos pick up a book, take note of their directionality. Do they know how to hold the book? Can they point to the front cover and the title? These simple observations are the first part of doing a concepts of print assessment.

Once they identify the front/back covers, see if they can point to the first and last words on the page.


As a kindergarten teacher, I encouraged journal writing everyday. The kids’ journals were my way of assessing concepts of print.

Let’s look at an example of an end-of-the-year kindergarten writing sample:



Based on the kindergarten writing sample above, we can tell this kid has the following concepts of print skills:

  • writes from left to right
  • writes from top to bottom
  • has correct letter formation except one letter reversal
  • uses punctuation mark at the end of her sentence
  • leaves spaces in between her words
  • draws an illustration to match her writing


The following is a printable Concepts of Print assessment, I used to document the kid’s writing progress:


Get this rubric HERE or on TPT


These rubrics are a great way to document the child’s progress, as well as share the information with the parents. They, too, like to know what their child is expected to learn as an emergent reader and writer.



Before you go, here are a few blog posts you may enjoy:

115 Top Picks for Poem of the Day

5 Tips for Name Writing Practice

21 Best Educational Apps for Kids

5 Best Educational Subscription Boxes 

The Benefits of Teaching Code to Elementary Kids


Concepts of Print