Pre 22-36 writing or 'Emergent writing' is something that we all too often forget about in our Nursery. I think we sometimes consider everything before 22-36 as part of their fine motor development and consider much of their mark making as part of the Creative Development strand.
One of our fantastic EYP's gave me and the setting an example of some training she went on regarding emergent writing (detailed above). It was detailed in that it showed a path to what they called 'sentence writing' from 'randomised mark-making.' However to many Nursery settings the most important stages would be these early steps such as 'random mark-making' and 'directional mark making.' It is within these that stages that our children usually enter, and sadly, often leave. Its a hard journey moving beyond this but I think thats because we don't place enough emphasis on the value of these early stages. We, and parents, want the children to move onto more structured 'name writing' or 'recognisable letter' stage far too early.
We need to start thinking about valuing these early marks as being part of their 'writing' journey and learning the intricate steps children take through to writing structured, recognisable letters. Below are examples of some of the mark making we have in our setting and how they link to the Emergent writing steps.
'Steps to success' for Emergent writing: (Resource ideas are provided but these lists are not exhaustive and examples from our setting are provided.
1) Randomised mark-making - Random marks made on a page. Paper is not necessarily held in a particular position and marks are made anywhere on the paper (or board, pavement etc.)
Provide: (Don't want to teach you suck eggs, but still..) Lots of different sizes, colours and shapes of paper. Chalk boards, white boards, pens, pencils, crayons, chalk - basically a plethora of mark making tools and things to make marks on. Post-its are proving popular with our children at the moment.
Marks begin at any point on the page.
Marks go in any direction.
Marks appear entirely random.
2) Directional mark-making - Marks are made in a particular direction. Some children will work left to right (as in English) and some may work right to left. R>L is common for EAL children or children learning to read or write Arabic. It is also within this stage that children will begin making anti-clockwise movements on a page similar to the direction of some English letters (e.g. 'o').
Provide: Lined paper, musical paper (with a stave), grid paper, circular paper, writing frames (commercial or designed - so the paper is used in a particular orientation), ribbons on sticks (encouraging anti-clockwise movement).
Directional mark making usually flows left to right.
Watch out for anti-clockwise circles.
Marks can be continuous or broken.
3) Symbolic mark-making - May form recognisable letters, perhaps from their name. Children will often write the first letter of their name and say they have written "my name." It is within this stage that children have begun to consolidate their random and directional mark making and have begun to recognise the shape that some letters make. Children also do not need a "good" grip to make these letters, they do it any way they can.
Provide: Opportunities to 'write their own name' by mark making. Opportunities to see their own name written, magnetic letters, scrabble letters, wooden letters, plastic letters, phonic and letter games.
Children begin to assign 'labels' to their drawing.
4) Strings of letters - Children write recognisable letters often in order from left to right but without any gaps. They won't make phonetic sense however children will often understand their meaning and relevance.
Provide: Same as stages 1-3.
Children will use letters from their name, sometime repeated and in an odd order.
Look out for numbers as well as letters.
5) Groups of letters - Children will write letters they know leaving gaps between 'words.' however again at this stage children do not necessarily need to make 'real words. If I am honest we rarely see children working within this stage because children who can write letters usually begin to write some kind of phonetic word or their name, rather than a random arrangement of letters such as 'tygh juop.'
6) Environmental print - Children copy letters and words which they see from their environment. For examples children will copy their name from a name card or words written on displays around the classroom. Children will also begin to recognise letters which they know being use in other words. If children have some phonic knowledge they will also recognise and perhaps say the sound associated with that letter, e.g. 's' '/ssss/' in 'Sandwich.'
7) Letter/word representation - Where children use the first letter phonetically to represent the entire word. Again this seems slightly backwards compared to stages 5 and 6 but this is where phonics really begins to kick in. Some of our early Ph2 children understand 't' and '/t/' but cannot write the word 'tin' Instead they write 't' and this represents the entire word because all they hear is the initial sound.
8) 1st and last letter representation - This carries on from stage 7 where children now hear the last phoneme when writing as well as the first.
9) Medial letter representation - Again, stage 7 and 8 lead naturally to stage 9.
Children can write words using beginning, middle and end phoneme in word.
Children can write their name from memory.
10) Beginning sentence construction - Beginning to add 2 or more words together to form a sentence. This requires children hearing the words within a sentence and understanding that sentences are compiled using different words (and words are compiled using different letters).
11) Full sentence writing+ - Children apply all previous 10 stages to writing sentences, sometimes with grammatical or phonetic mistakes but will good levels of accuracy.
*Some of the information in this post will be copyrighted and ought to be credited. I cannot find the original author of this information but will happily credit it to whom ever originally designed it.