Children's Development of Emergent Writing

Within an early childhood classroom, children's emergent reading and writing skills vary a great deal. Many different phases of emergent literacy can be observed. The following video, for example, demonstrates the wide range of writing development of 5-year-old kindergarten children.

Image of a person writing Six examples of children's emergent writing are described by Elizabeth Sulzby, professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor [3.0 MB QuickTime video]. Excerpted from the video Emergent Literacy: Kindergartners Write and Read (University of Michigan & North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1988). (Note: Viewing this video requires the use of QuickTime 3 or QuickTime 4 software. To download a free copy of this software, go to QuickTime 4 and follow the instructions.) A text transcript is available.

Although all the children are in the same kindergarten class and are approximately the same age, their writing skills show a wide range of development. The first example of a child's writing consists of a drawing, wavy scribbles, and letter-like scribbles. The second example shows these forms and adds random letters and patterned letters. The third example consists of patterned letter strings arranged in a column. The fourth example shows patterned letters of the name Billy displayed in a column with underlining. The fifth example shows a drawing, wavy scribbles, random letters, and other writing that the child calls "Siamese." The sixth example shows two drawings with letters spelling "I love you." In addition to this emergent writing, children demonstrated the development of their emergent reading skills by rereading what they had written.

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