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the evolution of writing begins with mark making!

As we near the end of the school year, I am thinking of all the end of year research papers being written, the essays for college applications, the writing assessments for standardized tests. Children of all ages composing a message and putting it on paper. Where does that developmental process start? With the mark making experience in the very early years!


“Writing composition is a developmental process that has a starting point. The evolution of writing begins with mark making, when young children experiment with making marks by either running their hands through water, food, or any other sensory substance. The ability to make marks is empowering and, if given the opportunity, children will continue with blank paper and crayons. This will begin as random scribbling, but with experience, will progress into scribbling with some control. Children will begin to repeat their scribbles and

start to draw pictures that might resemble something in their worlds. About this time, a child might develop the ability to attribute meaning to what they have put on paper. Eventually, as the vocabulary increases, the stories become more elaborate, and children might need more than one piece of paper to adequately depict their story. As the drawings progress, letters of the alphabet will start to emerge on the paper. Over time, with ample opportunity for open-ended drawing and writing, children start to combine letters into letter strings. Couple this with the emergence of phonemic awareness, and children may begin to inventively spell words based on what they are hearing. A few years into elementary school, usually around the age of 8, conventional spelling is introduced, and children start to rely on words to share their messages instead of pictures.” ~ Stacy Benge, The Whole Child Alphabet: How Young Children Actually Develop Literacy

Want to learn more about mark making? Check out this video I created in 2017! What are the mark making and scribbling stages?

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