Children gradually come to know that adult writing and print on a page embody meaning, and that their job is to figure out both the words and the meaning represented by that writing. A number of practices can support the child’s progression from emergent literacy into the beginning reader stage.
Activities for Building an Awareness of Print
When reading to children, talk about the cover of the book and the title; help children guess what the story could be about before you begin reading.
Point to the print in books as you read aloud steadily and smoothly.
Help children learn the names and sounds of alphabet letters by singing the alphabet song, talking abut the sounds that can be heard at the beginnings of words (e.g, “Mom” starts with the ” sound) and pointing out the sounds of the beginnings of words in books.
Help young children learn to write their own names; talk about the names of the letters and the sounds of the letters in their names.
Label familiar objects in rooms; talk about the letters/sounds in those labels. From time to time, ask older children to find particular letters or words on a page. Take care not to “quiz” preschoolers and spoil an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Help young children learn to write their own names; talk about the names of the letters and the sounds of the letters in their names. Also, the child may learn to write certain words such as his/her name.
Children may also learn the names of their siblings, and the words Mom, Dad, and love. These words are learned as wholes and do not indicate that the child has recognized the alphabetic principle that each phoneme or speech sound is represented by a letter or letters.
Young children learn to capture their own ideas through symbols, beginning with pictures and scribbling, and eventually using alphabet letters and combinations of letters to represent words and sounds. They also learn to use writing for their own purposes-to record information and to express their own ideas and creativity.
Activities for Building Young Writers
Children can have their own shopping lists when parents take them to the store. At first, these may have simple illustrations of the items; later on, words can be added for the items.
Provide ready access to all manner of writing supplies and tools: pencils, a variety of sizes and types of papers, crayons.
Encourage children’s writing attempts. At first, these may be pictures only; ask the child to tell you about the pictures.
Later on, children will experiment with scribbling and some letter-like forms in an attempt to duplicate print and cursive writing they have seen adults use. Acknowledge children’s growing awareness of print at this stage by asking them to tell you about their writing.
As children progress to using alphabet letters to stand for sounds, congratulate them for their efforts. When they ask for spellings of words, first encourage them to attempt to record the sounds they hear. Their phonemic awareness will develop further as they work out the sound/symbol relationships.
Demonstrate how to do whatever it is that eludes them.
Example: “I see you have a bit of trouble with that. Let me show you how to do it.”
Encourage young children to write out birthday party invitations, thank-you notes to friends and relatives, shopping lists, etc.
Encourage children to use their developing writing skills to record events on a family vacation or to create a caption for a photograph.
Encourage children to write their own stories.
Illustrate them with drawings or pictures cut out of magazines. Bind or staple the story between easily-made construction paper or tagboard covers. Have children read their published works to others.
Help children use a simple word processing program or a desktop publishing program for kids to create and publish stories.