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Emergent Readers and Writers

Pre-kindergarten through first grade:

  • understand that written language conveys messages 
  • pretend read and write: they turn pages of books, invent the story using pictures and their memory of a story
  • begin to match spoken words with print (see Concepts about Print Link to Glossary of Terms)
  • may know some letter names and some letter sound associations
  • may recognize some words and letters in their environment or in texts; but not again in a different context; they may still be unsure of the concept of "word" or "letter"
  • can write some letters, usually those in their own names
  • in writing may reverse some letters, and may use mostly upper case letters
  • may make scribbles or strings of random letters with no spaces; one letter may represent a whole word
  • may read or attribute meaning to his or her marks; may not be able to "re-read" these marks at a later time.

Children in this phase benefit from:

  • seeing reading and writing modeled through listening to good stories and seeing others write meaningful messages
  • supported practice while reading engaging, predictable books with pictures that clearly relate to and illustrate the story line
  • encouragement to experiment with writing
  • experience with sorting words and pictures to build letter and sound recognition (see phonemic awareness Link to Glossary of Terms)
  • experience with rhyming and other word play
  • activities that engage students in using oral and written language

NOTE: Keep in mind that the grade levels associated with each phase described below are only approximate. In each grade there are likely to be children in all phases of literacy acquisition. Also, remember that within each phase there may be a range of learners who are developing in different ways.