Early writing encompasses the manual act of producing physical marks, the meanings children attribute to these markings, and understandings about how written language works. Early writing is one of the best predictors of children’s later reading success. Specifically, early writing is part of a set of important foundational literacy skills that serve as necessary precursors to conventional reading, including developing understandings of both print and sound (i.e., phonological awareness). Print knowledge includes general understandings of how print works and the names and sounds of the alphabet. Knowledge about sound, or phonological awareness, includes the ability to attend to and manipulate sound structure of language.
These early skills work together to lay a foundation for later reading success. As children integrate their knowledge of print and sound, they begin to grasp the alphabetic principle, a critical achievement in early literacy. The alphabetic principle is the understanding that oral language is made up of smaller sounds and that letters represent those sounds in a systematic way. Children can grow in their understanding of how print and sound work together through experimenting with writing. Writing serves as a type of laboratory, in which even very young children are actively creating and testing hypotheses about how writing works. The key to carry out these hypotheses is to present a variety of scenarios that enrich the writing experience. For this activity, we used markers (an easy utensil for small fingers to grasp) to create shapes. We focused on proper grasp, control, and left to write sequencing.