Collaborative Labeling

Classroom Labeling, Print-Rich Environment

UDL 2.1 UDL 3.1

Collaborative Labeling is an early literacy strategy in which students take part in the labeling of objects around the classroom in order to develop print awareness. The teacher and students collaboratively select objects of importance around the room that would benefit from a label (e.g. door, desk, window). Then, the teacher engages students in sounding out the name of the object while writing each letter on a large label. The label is posted on or near the object and becomes a part of the print rich classroom environment. As students gain proficiency, they begin to take on a greater role in sounding out the words and writing labels. This strategy supports early learners by reinforcing the connection between familiar, real-life objects and visible print.

Implementation Tips

Preparing Materials
Prepare label-making materials in advance. Gather large labels (e.g. 5x7 Post-Its, cut up sentence strips, colorful card stock, index cards), a dark-colored marker, and a [[|letter sound chart]] for reference.
Planning Ahead
Plan ideas of objects to label around the classroom that students are deeply familiar with (e.g. chair, rug, table). The less cognitive work students have to put forth making meaning of an object, the greater mind space they have to focus on connecting the print with the object.
Utilizing Reference Materials
Utilize a [[|letter sound chart]] while engaging in collaborative label making. Reference the chart to support students in identifying the correct sounds that they are looking for in isolation.
Modeling Letter Sounds
Prior to crafting a label, model sounding out each letter in isolation. For example, ask, “What sound do you hear at the beginning of ‘door’? I hear the /d/ sound. I’m looking at my letter sound chart and I think that ‘dog’ starts with that same sound as door. The letter next to the dog is a d.’”
Reinforcing Print Awareness
Connect the print on the label with the meaning of the object by immediately sticking the finished label on or near the selected object. Ensure students are engaged in observing as you post labels in order to solidify this connection.
Engaging Students
Encourage active student engagement in the label making process. Have students follow along by writing the letters of the sounds they hear with their pointer fingers. Tell students to use their “magic finger” (i.e. pointer finger) to write the letters in the air or on their palms.
Implementing Throughout the Day
Use this method as an opening warm up, a closing activity or as a spontaneous event as the opportunity for creating a label naturally arises.


Soliciting Student Input
While students are seated on the rug, the teacher says, “Take a look at the door of our classroom. You’ll notice that I made a label with the letters d-o-o-r. This spells door. The door is a very important part of our classroom environment. It is where we greet each other at the start of our school day and also where we wave goodbye to one another at the end of the day.” Then, the teacher invites students to identify the areas of the classroom that are most important to them; that they wish to create labels for. As students share, the teacher verbally reinforces their contributions (e.g. “That’s a great idea!") and records their thoughts on a notepad. The teacher saves these ideas for future collaborative label making.
Practicing Whole Group
The teacher invites students to sit on the reading rug for a mini lesson. Once students are seated, the teacher says, “We are going to continue to create labels for the most important areas of our classroom. Today we will create a label for our reading rug.” The teacher then models sounding out each sound in isolation while writing each letter on a 5x7 Post-It (e.g. “Rug. The first sound I hear is /r/. I am going to write R.) As the teacher models writing out the label, some students use their “magic finger” (i.e. pointer finger) to write the letters in the air. Other students write the letters in the palm of their opposite hands, as if they were writing on a notepad. After the word is written, the teacher shows the label to the class and leads students through stretching out each letter sound. Finally, the teacher sticks the label on the object while the students watch.

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