I need to write danger

Daily documentation from Tigerlily Preschool

March 20, 2023

Lulu writes:

Helping O with our classroom rule of “only build as high as your eyes”, and the suggestion is to start a new tower when it reaches your eye level while standing. This is our rule of thumb for the highest it can safely be.

O: I’ll crash it down?

Lulu: No, that’s pretty high up and wel want to take care of our materials, so not crashing the tower down, but you can take it down gently a few at a time.

As a caretaker of our classroom, O accepts this idea and begins removing blocks to build a second tower.

Lulu: Thank you for taking those down so carefully.

O: You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure.

More writing outside

note: this public documentation identifies children by their initials only but the following section shares their thinking about letter formation so we’re using pseudonyms here to make their conversation easier to follow

Sam has the idea to make a Dinosaur Checklist, while Paul and Terra decide they need to make signs. Writing materials are assembled, and the children get started.

Paul: I need to write Danger.

Sam: You start with a D!

Lulu: Yes, and remember, we start on this (left) side of the paper so you have plenty of room to write the rest of your word going that way (points across to the right).

Paul: starting on the left, draws a little t. He says: Oh! Wait. I drew t. I’ll try again down here.

Terra: I know D, it’s like this.

Sam: next comes A!

Lulu: That’s right, you could make an A like Paul is making, a big A with a line across, or you could make one like Terra has made, little a, I see a circle with a little tail.

Sam: (saying the sounds slowly)..nnn..nnn…next comes N!

Paul: I want to make Big N.

Lulu: Okay, Big N – you start here at the bottom (I draw a little dot on my own paper)…then you go Up, Down, and Up (showing how I make the marks.)

Terra and Paul follow along, watching as I make a mark and then attempting on their own page.

The goal I have here is to honor each child where they are in their mark making & understanding of the needed letters. 5-year-old Sam has been reading for some time now, and has offered knowledge from his own understanding as a reader, such as “C can make two different sounds, /c and /s”…I’m so happy to let him take the lead, as he guides the group to write the word they want by saying the sounds slowly and waiting for them to write each letter. 4-year-old Paul has had lots of practice writing his and others’ names, and has added some lettering to the books he’s written, ready to string them along in combinations to learn how to make new words he wants. 3-year-old Terra (almost 4!) has practiced her own name quite a bit, and is showing interest in forming other letters aside from the ones in her name, making brave attempts with her marks and a willingness to give it a try! Still other children may be making marks that look like lines and loops, grown-ups might say scribbles, but it’s possible for these marks to hold written meaning for the child making the marks. All marks are welcome, and all are happening along a developmental path that emerges over time.

*Rubric from Teaching Strategies Gold

Area: Literacy 

Objective: 19 – Demonstrates emergent writing skills 

Dimension: b. Writes to convey meaning

A child asking for a whole word could get that whoIe word for copying if they preferred, as Marie shares in her future writings, and when writing words to give to a child I also take the step of saying the sounds slowly and writing what I hear, modeling how I’m spelling the word. These various ways of word-making are also wonderfully summarized by Belle Newman at Park Hill ECE. While S is currently interested in figuring out the letters one by one and the other children seem interested in following his lead, I also offer the letter when they ask for it.

Sam: is the next letter J or G?

Lulu: yes, I hear you, because they can both make that same /j sound, huh? For this word it’s G! Then, I say to Paul who has started writing and Terra who is trying as she watches him: yes, Big G looks like if you start with C, but it has this part in the middle (they each give an attempt that feels just right for them).

Before I realize they’ve moved on, the trio finishes the next letter E.

Sam: the last sound is R.

Paul: I know R.

Terra: I need help to make it.

Paul makes an R on Terra’s page, and copies on top of it as I say: that’s right, a line down. Then a hump at the top. And from the middle, another line kicks out, yes, just like that!

Later, Sam asks: What’s the fourth letter in Diplodocus?

Lulu: I’m honestly not too sure about the book spelling for Diplodocus, but we can say the sounds slowly and try our best.

Signs by three children:

“Be careful not to slip”



A note here that it feels like we are venturing a little into “academic program” territory, with all the talk of letter sounds & formation. But we profess to be a play-based program, how can this be! It is important that this is bubbling up from desire and requests that come from the children, in a way that feels relevant for them. The idea to make danger signs and dinosaur checklists is wholly their own, connected to play and their environment in a meaningful way, and in this way emergent writing & literacy does find a place in Play. My work as a teacher is supportive: having materials accessible and workable (clipboards are key!), listening for help requests, being ready to meet each child at their growing edge as they explore these exciting new territories, and reflecting to the children their identities as mark-makers, sign-makers, and writers.

“Cricket Green City”, by Lara

Two happy people in a salmon bed, creator unknown to me

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