'Print rich' is a lovely phrase, but it is one that is easily mis-interpreted and can cause practitioners a great deal of angst not to mention headaches for children!
So, what is a print rich environment? Well, for me the most important word in the phrase is not 'print' it is 'rich'. If we think about the word rich in monetary terms, it just means that you have got a lot of it. But when it comes to learning through print, less is often more - at least to start with.
This is a VERY busy wall. For me, amy one aspect of it is lost in the sheer explosion of text. Although there is a lot of information it would be very difficult for the emergent learner to unpick and apply.
Print in your environment is only 'rich' for children if they are interested in it and engage with it. If there is lots of it then it just becomes wallpaper.
At the early stages of development, when children are recognising different letter and number shapes, print doesn't only just need to be engaging, it needs to be clear. To an 'emerging eye' a,o,b,d,c,p,q,e,g can look vey similar so if they are displayed all in the same font and colour within a very busy background then chances are they won't be as engaging.
If we use print in the environment to teach children that print carries meaning, then it makes sense for children to be involved in the creation of that print. This could be labels for the classroom or on a display.
Recording in display what the children say about their work or what they think about what they have been doing along with their photograph can be a great way of getting them to engage with the print that is on the walls.
Saint Andrew's Primary School
I would say that there also needs to be a variety of styles of print mixed in with adults and children's mark making and writing that has been done 'live' in the setting.
The main body of print on your walls should be meaningful and relevant to the children and produced by an adult or child working in the space. Then enhancements to your printed environment can be made using other examples and styles of print. But you should view this sort of print in the same way as you do an enhancement to any part of your provision as just that, an enhancement.
If you were to hang an umbrella above your water tray with lots of laminated keywords on a raindrop, hanging from an invisible thread. It might make other adults go 'oooh'! But how many children will actually look at it? More importantly how many of them will understand what the words say and then independently refer to them in their learning. In my experience (and I have seen a lot of umbrellas in my time) none!
Speaking of water, what is the purpose of this display in your water area for non-reading early years children? Do we have it because it is a well known fact that children don't know how to play with water unless there are a few blue circles next to them with text they can't read in it? Even if you can read it - it is ever going to influence your play?
The 'have a go if you want to' area at Halton Lodge Primary
It can be a really good idea to have labels near to provision to help, support and focus children's learning, but only if they actually engage with the print. A good idea is to use the children themselves to make the labels. Then you can talk about ideas and expectations while you are making them and the children will have a memory prompt when they look at them.
Noah's Ark Pre School
If in doubt, do the squint test. Stand about 6 feet away from your board and squint at it. If the children's work the background, the boarder and the labeling all merge into one riot of colour and pattern then you have got it wrong. If the children's work 'pings' out at you (and them) then you have got it right. After all, what is display for? It is there to motivate children by raising their self esteem or to teach them something that they need to know. It is not about making wallpaper.
There will be lots and lots of other opportunities for you to introduce print into your environment through books, comics, letters etc. Just make sure your walls are print rich and not just full of print.