Looking at Writing

Pre-K: Writing Sample 3

Preschoolers start "writing" by scribbling and drawing letter-like shapes in a large circular motion. Often, a young child's first letters are drawn by accident and then identified by the child or parent. Kids at this age will form letters to represent written language for meaningful words like their names or phrases such as "I love you." Preschoolers who see older kids or adults write begin to see that writing has a purpose and they will want to try it. Provide lots of writing materials — paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and drawing tablets.

"Ideas are the cheapest part of the writing. They are free! The hard part is what you do with the ideas you have gathered. " — Jane Yolen

Context of writing

This writing sample was created by a 4 year old girl. When asked what she wrote, the author said "Mom, I love you."

What is this child able to do as a writer?

This writer separated her message from the picture. This lets us know the writer understands that print conveys meaning. The author wrote Mom correctly, an important and frequently used word for this writer. Other words in the message have letters mapped to the sounds (LF for love) and I for I.

Move your cursor over each red bubble image marker for observations about this child’s writing.

[Click the sample to view the full size image. See transcript]


Mom, I love you.

What can we do to nurture this writer?

When a child points to individual words on a page when reading, and works to match their speech to a printed word, a concept of word is developing. This awareness of the purpose and existence of spaces separating words and that spoken words match to printed words is known as a concept of word. Often called the watershed event of kindergarten, adults watch young writers insert these important spaces in their own work. Guided either by an index finger in-between each word or by lines drawn by the teacher or parent, children demonstrate one-to-one correspondence with words.

Adults can nurture the development of a concept of word by pointing to individual words while reading and by drawing lines for individual words within writing samples. Adults can also help children hear sounds in the words they are trying to write by saying words slowly and helping them match a letter to a sound.

"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan