Emergent Literacy and Symbolic Thought

When we go for walks in our community the children often notice symbols on the signs we see around us. They are beginning to understand that those symbols have meaning which is really amazing because it is an emergent literacy skill! In the same way that children recognize that symbols have meaning they begin to understand letters and combinations of letters have meaning as well.
As young children begin keying into symbols, they are making a huge conceptual leap; they’re learning that a “picture” can convey a message. They can decipher it on their own and put to use. With this dawning realization (I know what that says!), their interest grows. - Signs and Symbols
On Friday when the children and I visited the forest we observed a sign on the path and talked about what they thought the symbols might mean.

C noticed the symbol of a person inside a green circle and said, "You can run here!"
D looked at both symbols, a bike inside a green circle and a person inside a green circle, and said, "You can walk and ride your bike here."
A and B both said, "Guy!" looking at the sign.

The children also noticed some writing and a symbol/shape on the bench. D who is the eldest of the group (5 years old) was able to identify the letters and the symbol and C (who is 3 years old) recognized the heart shape. They both concluded that a heart means love ♥️

I am amazed by how observant the children are and how naturally learning occurs through everyday outings and play. They are decoding the pictures on the signs we see each day in the same way that soon they will decode words and sentences.