Developing Emergent Literacy in Children

Project Overview

Emergent literacy

Numerous people are convinced that children cannot comprehend writing and reading until they are three years old, as they do not have enough awareness. However, this concept is inaccurate because learning literacy is a complex and lengthy process, and a child’s experience of its basics begins long before they realize this skill in the traditional sense. Although it seems phenomenal at first glance, it is natural as kids live in a world full of written symbols. They interact with books, calendars, lists, and inscriptions every day and gradually understand how signs convey meaning. This active effort to build fundamental skills through informal experiences is considered emergent literacy.

Theme and its appropriateness for the group

Topics play one of the essential roles in the learning process; they should be stimulating and meet the capabilities of children of a certain age. Therefore, the project’s theme is Animal-Assisted Literacy, following Stevens’s book Animals have feelings, too: Exploring emotions from A to Z. This option is appropriate since the kids were 3-4 years old, and their interest in animals is high. Moreover, the book raises the subject of the individuals’ emotional sphere. At the age of 3, a child learns thousands of words and comprehends a whole world of diverse feelings, constituting the foundations of their character (Fellowes & Oakley, 2011). Thus, the theme promoted the study of ways to control one’s emotions and express them accurately through speech and writing.

Opportunities to enhance children’s learning

The project includes diverse activities and pedagogical practices that provide opportunities to improve skills. The children were engaged in interactive reading, molding, and storytelling, which influenced literacy and language development and provided possibilities to improve thought formation. Through the play-based experiences, they learned to interact with each other, using words rather than gestures. Three-year-old kids did not comprehend the symbolic function of the printed word, and the project incorporated options to internalize it.

Learning Experience Analysis

Initial Storybook


The Initial Storybook involved an interactive reading of Animals have feelings, too: Exploring emotions from A to Z by Karen Stevens. This book features many animal characters and colourful illustrations that appeal to kids’ interests and help them create associations (Stevens, 2015). It enables children to build vocabulary for their feelings and describes the diverse ways people deal with anger, fear, and sadness, which justifies its use in the project. Furthermore, the experience included answering questions concerning the character’s behaviour, emotions, and their reasons. The reading ended with a suggestion for children to retell the story to assess their ability to remember the plot and relay it.

Literacy concepts

The chief goal was to teach children to think critically, analyse the information they receive, and form attitudes toward it. Moreover, reading contributes to the development of speech, and each new word enriches the world with new meanings and thus creates a solid foundation for further education. In addition, literacy concepts such as using picture information to learn about a text and employing individual experiences to comprehend a story were involved. At the age of three, the child already uses words to express their thoughts, though the aim was to teach them how to build a chain with a cause-and-effect relationship accurately (Emmitt et al., 2006). This skill is directly related to literacy because it contributes to the attractive syllable in writing and everyday conversation. Therefore, reading is one of the most developmental activities, so the number of literacy concepts it affects is considerable.

Emergent literacy skills demonstrated by the children

Naturally, three-year-old children cannot read and analyse books without help. Nevertheless, their interest in reading is exceptionally high, and they try to repeat the actions of their parents or other adults. During this phase of the project, children imitated the reading process. They looked straight into the book, and moved their fingers along the text. Moreover, children demonstrated their ability to recognize letters and sounds and looked at the pictures to determine the plot. To be able to read means to guess from the letters the words they stand for. That is why it begins from looking at the letters, their pronounce and remembering certain words corresponding to the combination of these letters.

Educator’s role in extending the children’s learning

The educator’s role in this experience was to create a dialogue between the child and the book. It means not simply reading it and looking at pictures, but discussing the plot, stimulating more than one-word answers, and teaching children to develop their thoughts. Moreover, it was crucial to praise and encourage kids if they accomplish well, motivating and promoting their desire to learn. Children will be better at remembering and telling the story in sequence if the teacher can hold interest, encourage dialog, and select suitable materials.

Experience One


The first experience consisted in molding animal figures according to examples on printed materials. The samples were relatively simple and consisted of the basic geometric shape – a circle. Children could choose one option and repeat it or embody their idea. The three-dimensional nature of the made figure stimulated kids to act with it, expanding communication possibilities with peers (Bickley, 2008). PlayDoh coordinates not only the movement of the hands but also the eyes, growing the ability to distinguish between primary colours, shades, and shapes. Moreover, speech improvement is made under the influence of impulses coming from the fingers. Since molding develops several skills simultaneously, it was included in the project.

Literacy concepts

Writing is the first literacy concept I have tried to develop during the first experience. The process of molding coordinates the work of the hands, prepares them for writing, strengthens the small muscles, teaches to regulate the pressure, and promotes the development of beautiful handwriting (Bickley, 2008). Furthermore, the brain fixes sensations during molding, combining them with visual, auditory, tactile perceptions into complex, integrated images and representations. Therefore, motor and speech functions are developed in parallel. Moreover, the aim was to improve children’s vocabulary and ability to perceive and interpret information through discussions during and after making figures and playing with them.

Emergent literacy skills demonstrated by the children

Children demonstrated an understanding of the images on the printed material; they looked at it carefully, pointed with their fingers, and could identify what was depicted there. Furthermore, they actively participated in the dialogue, imitated the sounds of the animals they were modeling, and listened to others attentively. Kids assumed what else the shapes might resemble, associated them with familiar objects, and justified their ideas with the help of words (see Appendix A).

Educator’s role in extending the children’s learning

The role of the educator was to share the experience and demonstrate the correct hand movements and actions, which led to the creation of distinct shapes. It was equally significant to participate in the play process with the figures because the educator can set a new model of play behavior. Moreover, the task was to stimulate the child’s thoughts in a logical and accessible manner which extended further learning ability.

Experience Two


The second learning experience was based on storytelling, one of the most effective development strategies. For this purpose, print-outs of images of several cartoon animals were used. Animals represented pronounced emotions of resentment, anger, and joy without text. They showed a logical change of mood, and the role of children was to tell their version of what had happened. I wrote down their made-up stories so that kids could see how the speech was transformed into written text. Such activity combines the development of listening, speaking, interacting, and writing skills and therefore promotes literacy and meets the project’s goals. It is also a fun way to develop psychological intelligence and the ability to deal with emotions, which proved its relevance.

Literacy concepts

Listening, speaking, and communicating are literacy concepts that were the objectives of this experience. Through storytelling, children learned the logical connection between events and the construction of correct and coherent sentences. The play was aimed at developing their memory and using words logically. The more stories the children heard, the more likely they were to notice and remember details necessary for literacy development (Neaum, 2020). Improvement of listening, writing skills, and imagination was also achieved during the play-based experience.

Emergent literacy skills demonstrated by the children

The children had pieces of paper and tried to depict each story, following the educator’s example. Some of them did this in drawings, illustrating lines or circles. They also used colours to convey the emotions of the narratives. Some children tried to take notes while making up spelling and scribbling. They gestured a lot during the stories, but by the end of the experience, they began to explain the reason for the event in words (see Appendix B). Therefore, they demonstrated many skills that will become their literacy foundation.

Educator’s role in extending the children’s learning

The educator’s role was to explain how the sentences in the story were constructed, so he had to be the first person to present the story, demonstrating the proper example. It promoted the logical construction of the children’s speech and the right rhythm. Group coordination was also a necessary task; children could not listen without interrupting, so showing them a model of correct behaviour was essential. It allowed them to learn how to focus on a particular activity, which is significant for their future education.


Project evaluation

Verbal language and the knowledge of the outworld are the grounds for reading and writing skills. This concept became the basis of the project and the foremost reason for literacy improvement. The children have enhanced the alphabet through tasks execution and constant communication. I was able to retain their attention and interest and they become sounder at speaking and expressing their thoughts and feelings. Still, there were complications with organizing time allocated for task performance. It is necessary to consider the children’s capabilities sufficiently and plan the work wisely to balance individual and teamwork.

I can conclude that the more informal opportunities children have, the better their speech and skills are acquired. Emergent literacy is the basis for further development of abilities; therefore, it should be given proper attention. There are many ways to accomplish this aim, but play-based activities are the most profitable ways to stimulate diverse skills. My capacity to extend emergent literacy is good because, after the project, children comprehend the relationship between letters and writing better. Still, to succed in my future teaching career, I must learn and improve continually. The topic of the characteristics and predispositions of children of different age groups is of particular interest for further study. If one has knowledge of the most effective teaching practices and understands what age child they are appropriate for, then the developments will be undoubtedly positive.


Bickley, M. (2008). Building a partnership with your child care service. NCAC. Factsheet for families. Viitattu, 17, 1-3.

Emmitt, M., Komesaroff, L., & Pollock, J. (2006). Language learning: An introduction for teaching. Oxford University Press.

Fellowes, J., & Oakley, G. (2011). Language, literacy and early childhood education. Oxford University Press.

Neaum, S. (2020). Engaging with literacy provision in the early years: Language use and emergent literacy in child-initiated play. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 20(4), 680-705. Web.

Stevens, K. L. (2015). Animals have feelings, too: Exploring emotions from A to Z. All for animals.

Appendix A

Storytelling experience

Child: whole group



During the PlayDoh experience, I noticed that Emily was doing something unusual that was not in the printed materials. I walked up to her and saw several little green circles that she was putting together. I asked Emily what it was, and she explained that it would be a caterpillar. I decided to ask her why she thought the caterpillar was so tiny and why she had chosen that color. Emily said: “the caterpillar must be green because it lives in the grass. It is small because it helps it move faster and find food. ”

Appendix B

PlayDoh experience

Child: Emily



In the place where we were practicing, there were a lot of animal toys to make the process seem more attractive. I noticed all the children playing together and using sounds to imitate animals behavior. However, I caught something unusual in the character of their play after the storytelling experience. The children were much quieter than usual, so I got closer and saw they arranged the animals in different places. I asked why they were doing this, and one of the kids explained that they were putting them in their homes because everyone had to have their place. The other children added that they would bring their favorite foods to them, and that way, the animals would feel comfortable and would not get upset. I concluded that the activity influenced their perception of emotions and understanding what makes everyone happy.

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ChalkyPapers. "Developing Emergent Literacy in Children." April 5, 2023.