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Preschool Reading and Writing: Essential Elements of Emergent Literacy


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Title: Preschool Reading and Writing: Essential Elements of Emergent Literacy

Preschool Reading and Writing Essential Elements
of Emergent Literacy
  • Marilyn Astore
  • Language Literacy Consultant
  • California Preschool Instructional Network

What is Emergent Literacy?
  • Skills, knowledge and attitudes that are
    developmental precursors to conventional reading
    and writing
  • Whitehurst and Lonigan (1998) in Landry, Lonigan
    and Shanahan (2005)

Definitions of Emergent Literacy (Continued)
  • Skills and abilities linked to later outcomes in
    reading, writing and spelling
  • Basic building blocks for learning to read and

What Elements of Emergent Literacy Strongly
Predict Future Success in Reading and Writing?
  • Alphabetic Knowledge
  • Oral Language
  • Concepts About Print
  • RAN (Rapid Automatic Naming/Lexical Access)
  • Phonological
  • Awareness
  • Writing/Name
  • Writing
  • Invented
  • Spelling

Landry, Lonigan and Shanahan Lonigan (2006)

What Areas Are the Strongest Predictors?
Lonigan (2003, 2006)
Conventional Literacy The Reading/Writing
  • Receptive
  • Automatic, Fluent Decoding
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Expressive
  • Spelling
  • Composition

Landry, Lonigan and Shanahan
The Emergent Reading/Writing Connection
  • Assessing childrens writing provides useful
    indicators of their level of print development
    and their understanding of the sounds of
  • Moats (1998) in Paulsen, et al
  • Research has shown that writing leads to reading
  • Braunger, Lewis and Hagans (1999) in Paulsen, et
    al (2001), p. 260

The Emergent Reading/Writing Connection
  • Experiences such as making lists, writing notes
    and messages, planning menus and writing their
    names, as well as the names of other family
    members, encourage children to experiment and
    interact with print.
  • These experiences help children to gain a better
    understanding of how speech can be represented
    with print.
  • Paulsen, et al

The Emergent Reading/Writing Connection
  • There is a striking parallel in the
    developmental sequence that children go through
    as they learn to say the sounds in their language
    and when they learn to write the sounds of our
  • Paulsen, et al

Why is This Connection Significant ?
  • In alphabetic writing systems, decoding texts
    involves the translation of units of print
    (graphemes) to units of sound (phonemes), and
    writing involves translating units of sound into
    units of print.
  • Lonigan (2003)

How Does the Reading/Writing Connection Develop?
  • Children learn about literacy beginning in the
    earliest years by observing and interacting with
    readers and writers, as well as through their own
    attempts at reading and writing.
  • The breadth, depth and nature of childrens
    engagement with text greatly affects their
    development of literacy learning.
  • Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S. and Griffin, P. (1998),
    p. 44

Even with scribble and non-phonetic
letter strings, children appear to be exploring
features that they abstract about print
Development of the Reading/Writing Connection
Snow, Burns and Griffin, p. 59
Development of the Reading/Writing Connection
Late in the second year or early in the third
many children produce reading-like as well as
drawing-like scribbles and recognizable letters
or letter-like forms. Snow, Burns and Griffin,
p.57 During the latter part of this period,
children will often label and comment about what
they have illustrated. Snow, Burns and Griffin,

Development of the Reading/Writing Connection
  • Between three and four years of age, children
    continue to experiment with writing by
    scribbling, forming random letter strings and
    shapes that resemble letters.
  • Some four year olds begin to identify salient
    sounds in words and can demonstrate this
    knowledge in their writing through the use of
    invented spelling.
  • Snow, Burns and Griffin

A Major Developmental Milestone
  • The childs first written representation of a
    word using only its beginning consonant is a
    dramatic moment in the evolution toward literacy.
  • At this point, the child has a rudimentary
    understanding that letters stand for the sounds
    of language, though this understanding is
    probably based on the letters name rather than
    its sound.
  • Roberts, B. in S.B. Neuman and K.A. Roskos
    (1998), p.43

Encouraging Emerging Readers and Writers
  • How can early childhood staff and families
    nurture preschoolers growth in their attempts
    to read and write?
  • Share your ideas with a partner.

Shared Writing A Key Strategy to Connect Reading
and Writing
  • Shared writing (The Language Experience Approach)
    is an excellent way for helping children to
    realize that what they say can be written down in
    print and that print can be read back ...
  • Shared writing also presents opportunities for
    teachers to demonstrate the structure and
    conventions of written language.
  • Vukelich, C. and Christie, J.(2004), p.9

Shared Writing Activities
  • Daily News or Morning Message
  • Dictated Stories, Ideas or Experiences for
    individual or class books
  • Surprise Box-- Large box covered with paper
    teacher records childrens guesses about what is
    in the box and and reads them out loud to class

Shared Writing Activities (Continued)
  • Take-Home Bear- Stories about what child did
    with bear when he/she took it home-dictated to a
    family member or to the teacher the next day.
  • Quilt Stories-Dictated Stories framed
    individually with wallpaper strips and mounted
    together to produce a giant class story quilt.
  • Moomaw, S. and Hieronymus, B. (2001)

Linking Reading and Writing In Thematic Play Areas

Play settings that reflect real-life reading and
writing situations
  • Grocery Store
  • Veterinarians Office
  • Home Center
  • Post Office
  • Airport/Airplane
  • Library
  • Business Office
  • Restaurant

Vukelich and Christie
Role of the Teacher
When teachers are directly involved, children
learn more about reading and writing then when
they are playing alone or with others. Teachers
can be
  • Stage managers (gathering, making props and
    organizing materials, talking with children about
    their plans, etc)

Vukelich and Christie
Role of the Teacher (continued)
  • Co-players (joining in the play)
  • Play leaders (extending and enriching play
  • When teachers act as stage managers and add
    reading and writing materials to all their
    classroom centers, they coax young children into
    engaging in reading and writing behaviors.

Role of the Teacher (continued)
  • When teachers go a step further and become
    co-players and play leaders, they can provide
    children with meaningful reading and writing
  • Through such play, children practice the
    important reading and writing skills.
  • Vukelich and Christie, p.35

Supporting Emergent Literacy at the Writing Center
  • What kinds of materials should be available?
  • Discuss with a partner.

Support at the Writing Center
  • Time spent by teachers in the center key to
    childrens progress
    Baldridge and
  • Extensive opportunities for exploration and
    practice essential for encouraging emerging

  • Barone, D.M., Mallette, M.H. and Xu. M.H.(2005)
  • Choice important for children to decide about
    their topics, materials, purpose and length of
    time spent on a piece of writing
  • Barone, Mallette and Xu

Introducing Preschoolers to Letter Forms
  • Looking at letters gives young children some
    information about the lines used to form those
  • Watching an adult form a letter provides
    preschoolers with more information.

Introducing Preschoolers to Letter Forms
  • The teacher can play an alphabet clue game with
    children in a small group by writing a letter,
    one line at a time, on a large sheet of plain
    paper and asking the children to guess what
    letter he/she is going to make. If a long,
    vertical line is drawn, they might guess T or F
    or H . The teacher continues adding lines,
    telling the children when he/she has given them
    the last clue. Children may initiate games such
    as this in the writing area after playing with
    the teacher.

  • Schickedanz

Supporting Preschoolers Attempts to Write
A good way to help children learn to write
letters is to let them begin with the first
letter of their own name. Baldridge and
Segal, p.224
Next Step Try remaining letters in
name. Reminder for Adults Do not critique
letter reversals done by preschoolers!
Baldridge and Segal
Useful Materials for Letter Writing
  • Shaving Cream
  • Playdough (rolled out for finger writing)
  • Cornmeal (in a cardboard box lid)

Models for Copying
  • Plastic Letters
  • Letter Cards
  • Tracing Over Models with Finger A
    Multisensory Scaffold

  • Strategies for Supporting English Learners and
    Children With Special Needs

Support for Preschool English Learners
  • Review the recommendations outlined on pp. 68 and
    89 of Preschool English Learners Principles and
    Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and

Supporting Children with Special Needs DR access
  • Augmentative or alternative communication
  • Alternative mode for written language
  • Visual supports
  • Assistive equipment
  • Functional positioning
  • Sensory support
  • Response fluency
  • Alternative response mode

Directions for activity
  • Review your groups information, and at the
    chart paper brainstorm some additional strategies
    for promoting the development of emergent reading
    and writing.

Nurturing Reading and Writing Readiness at Home
  • Children see their parents reading regularly and
    enjoying it.
  • There is an abundance of all types of literature
    available--newspapers, magazines, novels,
    childrens books, etc.
  • Bishop, A., Yopp, R.H. and Yopp, H.K. (2000)

Nurturing Reading and Writing Readiness at Home
  • Visiting the local library is a weekly family
  • Children are read to regularly, including books
    that focus on important moments in their
    lives---a new puppy, an important outing, birth
    of a sibling, nightmares, visits to the doctor,

Nurturing Reading and Writing Readiness at Home
  • Homes that encourage reading and writing by
    having paper, pencils, crayons and even
    chalkboards readily availableare developing
    characteristics in children that will allow them
    to enter school with confidence.

Nurturing Reading and Writing Readiness at Home
  • Many children write before they begin reading.
    Parents who encourage their children to
    experiment with writing often are helping them
    ease into reading.
  • However, these parents do not expect perfect
    handwriting, spelling or grammar. They are very
    accepting of their childs attempts to write.
  • Bishop, Yopp and Yopp, p.10

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home
  • Help your child learn to recognize her name in
  • As she watches, print the letters of her name
    saying each letter as you write it.
  • Display her name in special places in your home.
  • Encourage her to spell and write her name.

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home (continued)
  • Point out words and letters everywhere you can.
  • Read street signs, traffic signs, billboards,
    and store signs. Point out certain letters in
    these signs.
  • Ask your child to begin naming common signs and
    find some letters.
  • Armbruster, Lehr and Osborne (2003), p.22

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home (continued)
  • Have your preschooler use her way of
    writing--perhaps just a scribble, to sign
    birthday cards or make lists.
  • Reading and writing support each other. The more
    your child does of each, the better she will be
    at both.
  • U.S. Department of Education (2002), p. 25

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home (continued)
  • Hang a family message board in the kitchen.
    Offer to write notes there for your child. Be
    sure that she finds the notes left there for her.
  • Ask your preschooler to tell you simple stories
    as you write them down

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home (continued)
  • Write with your child. She will learn a lot
    about writing by watching you write. Talk with
    her about your writing so that she begins to
    understand that writing means something and has
    many uses.

Strategies That Foster Print Knowledge and
Emerging Writing at Home (continued)
  • Help your child write notes or emails to
    relatives and friends to thank them for gifts or
    to share her thoughts. Encourage the relatives
    and friends to answer your child.
  • U.S. Department of Education, pp. 25-26

Families as Partners in Literacy
  • How do you structure opportunities for sharing
    strategies that support childrens early literacy
    development with families from diverse linguistic
    and cultural backgrounds?
  • How do you ensure that the home language of
    families is valued in the fostering of young
    childrens development as emergent readers and
  • Discuss with a partner.

Assessment What Emergent Writing Reveals about
Emergent Literacy
  • Use Measures 30 and 31 of Desired Results-R, to
    analyze what these measures demonstrate about
    preschoolers letter and word knowledge and
    emerging writing skills.

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  • Armbruster, B.B., Lehr, F. and Osborn, J. 2003. A
    Child Becomes a Reader Birth Through Preschool.
    Jessup, MD National Institute for Literacy.
  • Bishop, A., Yopp, R.H. and Yopp, H.K.. 2000.
    Ready for Reading A Handbook for Parents of
    Preschoolers. Boston Allyn and Bacon.
  • Baldridge, B.S. and Segal, M.S. 2005. Building
    Literacy With Love A Guide for Children and
    Caregivers of Children From Birth Through Age
    Five. Washington, D.C. Zero to Three Press.
  • Barone, D., Mallette, M.H. and Xu, S.H. 2005.
    Teaching Early Literacy Development, Assessment
    and Instruction. New York Guilford Press.
  • Braunger, J., Lewis, J. and Hagans, R. 1997.
    Building a Knowledge Base in Reading. Portland,
    OR Northwest Regional Laboratory, National
    Council of Teachers of English.

  • California Department of Education 2005.
    Preschool English Learners Principles and
    Practices to Promote Language, Literacy and
    Learning (Draft). Sacramento California
    Department of Education.
  • Landry, S.H., Lonigan, C. J. and Shanahan, T.
    2005. Findings from the National Early Literacy
    Panel providing a focus for early language and
    literacy development. Presentation at The
    National Association for the Education of Young
    Children Annual Conference in Washington, D.C..
  • Lonigan, C. J. 2003. Development and promotion of
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    reading difficulties. In B.R. Foorman (ed.),
    Preventing and Remediating Reading Difficulties.
    Baltimore, MD York Press.
  • Lonigan, C. J. 2006. Early literacy development
    foundations and interrelations. Presentation to
    California Preschool Instructional Network in
    Ontario, CA.

  • Moats, L. 1998. Achieving research-based
    practice replacing romance with reality.
    Presentation at The Sopris West Summer Institute,
    A Summit on Literacy, in Snowmass, CO.
  • Moomaw, S. and Hieronymus, B. 2001. More Than
    Letters. St. Paul, MN Redleaf Press.
  • Paulsen, L.H., et al. 2001. Building Early
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    Sopris West.
  • Roberts, B. 1998. I No EvrethENGE what
    skills are needed in early literacy? in S.B.
    Neuman and K.A. Roskos (eds.), Children
    Achieving Best Practices in Early Literacy.
    Newark, DE International Reading Association.

  • Schickedanz, J. A. 1999. Much More Than the ABCs.
    Washington, D.C. IRA.
  • Schickedanz, J.A. and Casberge, R.M. 2004.
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  • U.S. Department of Education Office of
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