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Emergent Writing

Writing Development

Children learn to write as they explore different tools and materials. Adults can encourage children to write by providing opportunities in a variety of settings. Children will demonstrate writing skills ranging from Scribbles to Conventional Spelling.

Practices that Support Writing

Project ELIPSS indentified several classroom practices which reflect environmental design and teaching strategies that promote early writing skills in young children.

Practices Which Support Writing
  • The classroom has a well-stocked writing center with a variety of paper and writing tools.
  • Other materials that support writing development, such as lists of the children’s names, chalk and chalkboards, magnetic board and letters, flannel board, letter tiles and blocks, alphabet chart, letter and picture stamps and ink pads, scissors, staples, and tape are readily accessible.
  • Computer is used to support children’s writing through the use of open-ended software that encourages drawing and experimentation with writing.
  • Art center is well-stocked with materials for all kinds of art – paints, fingerpaints, crayons, chalk, many kinds of paper, items for collage, play dough.
  • All areas of the room have writing materials (grocery lists, journals, prescription pads, waiter’s pads) to encourage writing for specific purposes. 

Sign-Up Sheet

Providing a sign-up sheet at the computer center or other popular centers may encourage children to write their name for a purpose.

Stages of Writing

As children begin to write, their marks can be identified according to stages of writing. Seven stages can be defined for preschool children:

  • Scribbling
  • Mock Handwriting
  • Mock Letters
  • Conventional Letters
  • Invented Spelling
  • Approximated (Phonetic) Spellings
  • Conventional Spellings

Stages of emergent writing seen in kindergarten children as described by Elizabeth Sulsby, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Relation Between Art and Writing

Many parallels can be drawn between art and writing. By encouraging children’s expressiveness through a variety of tools and materials, educators and families are promoting emergent writing skills.

Activities to Support Early Writing

Level 1

  • Making a Writing Box
    Setting Up a Writing Center
    Modeling Writing
    “This says ______.”
View Activities to Support Early WritingPDF. View Activities to Support Early Writing, Level 1 PDF

Level II

  • Language Experience Activity-Individual Dictation
  • Group Experience Stories
  • Using Children’s Names
  • Creating Patterned Language Charts
View PDF. View Activities to Support Early Writing, Level 2 PDF

Level III

  • Share-An-Experience Books
  • “Create-A-Card” Making Center
  • He Said…She Said
  • Using Books As A Springboard To Writing

Other Resources

View Resources to Encourage Emergent Writing.

Resources to Encourage Emergent Writing
Stories of our Lives – Scholastic Early Childhood Today – activity ideas to help children learn about the writing process

Supporting Emergent Writing – Inclusive Consultancy and Training – suggested activities for both on and off computer, including adaptations for children with disabilities.


 View Oral Language Development....Oral Language Development | Emergent Reading | EvaluationView Workshop Evaluation.
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Main Topics

Oral Language Development
Emergent Reading
Emergent Writing

Writing Development
Supporting Practices
Sign-Up Sheet
Stages of Writing
Activities to Support Writing
Other Resources


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