Blogs About Reading

Sound It Out

Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Looking at writing: What can we learn?

July 8, 2009

Readers of this blog know that I love writing samples. I've collected them from my kids since they started scribbling, and I often ask friends and neighbors if I can make a copy of their kids notes, assignments, or scribbles.

Children learn about reading and writing from the time they're born. When young kids watch parents and siblings use writing to communicate, they are learning about the purpose and value of writing. Many children become interested in making marks and scribbling on paper beginning around 18 months.

Teachers and parents can learn so much about a child's development by looking closely at a sample. Today's sample (I think I'll run this feature semi-regularly) is the gift card I got on a birthday present last year.

writing sample

In this sample we can see a healthy use of sight words (dear, mommy, here is, hope, like). There's evidence of a concept of word, although the spacing is tight. The use of the phrase, "It works like a champ," is heartwarming to me, and reinforces the importance of a language-rich environment at home.

Oh, and by the way, that mixer really does "make cookies yummy!"


As a teacher I have discovered that note writing is an effective form of communication (especially in tense or embarrassing situations). I use to dread reading notes, now I welcome them.

Writing provides an incredible amount of diagnostic information re: a child's thought process, knowledge of syntax, and application of sound-spellings. Shane Templeton aptly describes the developmental spelling stages that children go through from invented spelling to higher spelling stages. The trick is to identify the child's developmental spelling stage (as indicated by writing sample) and then work at refining sound-spelling components within that stage to move to the next level of spelling mastery. I provide a nice sequence of that sound-spelling continuum and an instructional procedure at Sound-by-Sound Blending.

I also really enjoying looking at a students writing especially when they are "guess" spelling. As a teacher I encourage this type of writing all of the time. I use it to help me plan my lessons. For example, if they are getting a lot of the beginning letter sounds, I may see that they should begin work on short vowels. I correct very little when they are journaling, but when it is something to display I help them with corrections.

At what age do you start helping them see correct spellings and such? I wouldn't want to crush their little spirit when they're having fun with writing.

I totally agree that children should be exposed to reading and writing opportunities from an early age. The more they see literacy modeled in their home community, the easier they will acquire new skills and recognize words and phrases. Also, the more comfortable they become with writing lists, notes, and stories, the less likely they will be to view writing as a chore.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
"Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them." —

Arnold Lobel