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Do you celebrate your child’s recognition of logos? You should! One important early reading skill is the ability to read symbols.
If you think about it, that’s all reading is. It’s knowing that the letter “b” says, “bbb.” So whenever your child sees the letter “b” they can make that sound in their mind. B stands for bbb.
Assigning symbols for words began a long time ago. Many ancient communities created their language system around images instead of letters. Hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt and the Sumerian Cuneiforms are great examples of these historical symbols.
These languages featured simple pictures that had specific meanings. Those symbols were used for communication, because people in the society knew what the images meant.
Much like our ancestors, today’s society still uses picture based writing. Except instead of calling them cuneiform or hieroglyphs, we call them logos, symbols, or emojis. These simple pictures have meaning for our society. We know what they mean.
Assigning a Meaning to the Image
When you see a picture of an apple with a bite taken out of its right side, with a single leaf on top, what comes to your mind?
If you said Apple, you’ve just read a logo.
Apple selected a simple logo, and it worked. They have instant brand recognition, worldwide. Many other companies have done the same thing.
Likewise, a yellow happy face means happy. Almost everyone can look at that picture and understand what meaning it is conveying.
Children learn to read symbols before they learn to read letters. The symbols are less complex and easily understood.
But, though not complicated, reading symbols is a type of reading. Your child is associating a symbol with a word. It is something that has meaning.
Three Early Reading Activities to Encourage Children to Read Symbols
If you want some simple activities to help your children read symbols, here are three. Remember to adjust any symbols listed below to ones that your child is already familiar with.
1. Symbols in the Newspaper
For this early reading activity, you will need a stack of newspaper ads.
Look through an ad together and point out logos that your child recognizes. Ask questions to help enhance the lesson. Here are some suggestions:
- What do we buy at this store?
- When do we go here?
- What is your favorite thing to look at here?
- Would you like to go here again?
This simple activity won’t take long. But, it will be a time when the two of you can practice reading symbols together.
2. Drawing Symbols
Does your child enjoy drawing? This early reading activity asks your child to follow your direction to draw familiar symbols.
Your child will need a piece of paper, a pencil, and coloring supplies.
When you’re ready, begin describing a simple symbol. Ask your child to draw each step. Here’s an example:
- Draw a red circle
- Inside the circle, draw another red circle. Leave the space between them white.
- Color the inside circle red.
When the symbol is complete, ask your child what store it means (Target).
Continue with other familiar symbols. You can even take turns and have your child describe the symbol while you draw.
If you’d like, compare your drawings to the actual symbol in the newspaper or on the store’s webpage. How close did you get?
3. Symbol Hunt
For this early reading activity, your child will be hunting for symbols and logos around the house. You can prepare ahead of time by drawing three or four symbols on a piece of paper and asking your child to go find them.
Or you can just work together to find symbols. This way you don’t have to do any preplanning.
If you go with this option, simply ask your child to look around the house until they find a symbol. Then, have them show you. Here are some symbols you may find:
- The Staples logo on a pack of printer paper
- The McDonald’s logo on the bottom of a toy from a Happy Meal
- An Apple logo on the back of your cell phone
- The Adidas logo on a pair of shoes
- The Purina logo on the kitty litter
Symbols are everywhere. Your child may not know what each of them mean, so add some discussion into this hunt.
Why do they think the letter L has an extra extension on the Staples logo? (To look like a staple)
Can they think of anywhere else they’ve seen the McDonald’s logo? Ask them to look for it the next time you’re driving.
Reading with Symbols
There are so many early reading activities you can do with symbols. And remember, being able to recognize that a picture has meaning is an essential reading skill.
Your child will be able to transfer this knowledge to letters. You can use symbols in your future reading lessons to activate prior knowledge.
So go out and read some symbols with your early readers! It’ll be a fun way to get some reading practice in.
Want more fun games to help your child learn to read? Check out Teaching Reading Through Play, my reading curriculum for kids who know their letters and are ready to read. The Beta version is on sale right now!
As a certified teacher with a master’s degree in Elementary Reading & Lit, I love using fun activities to teach kids to read.