Effective Practice Guides

Writing: Know

Goals for Preschoolers

  • P-LIT 6. Child writes for a variety of purposes using increasingly sophisticated marks.

Teaching Practices

When talking, signing, and writing with children, use their home or tribal language if you are able.


Encourage children to write or dictate stories or explanations to go with their work.
During morning choice time, Kara and Luis, both 4 years old, paint a large mural together. They ask Mr. Carle to help them write a sign that explains what the painting shows. Kara says, “The tree has red apples and green ones. The red ones are good to eat.” Mr. Carle repeats each word as he writes it.

Model the many different purposes for print and encourage children to write as part of their play and other activities.
Ms. Randall, a home visitor, arrives at the home of Juliette, age 4, and her grandma, Mrs. Porter. “Good morning,” says Mrs. Porter. “Juliette and I are going to make pancakes tomorrow. We need to make a shopping list.” She gets out a pad of paper and a pen and starts writing. “What are you writing?” asks Juliette. “It’s my shopping list,” answers Mrs. Porter. Ms. Randall says, “Juliette, I think your grandma is writing down the ingredients you need to make pancakes. What do you like to put in your pancakes?” “Apples and cinnamon,” says Juliette. “That’s how we make them.” “I like them that way, too,” says Ms. Randall. Mrs. Randall says to Mrs. Porter, “I wonder how Juliette can help you come up with what to buy. Do you have all the ingredients?” Mrs. Porter says to Juliette, “Please look in the refrigerator to see if we have apples.” Juliette goes to the kitchen to check. Ms. Randall says, “Juliette was interested in what you were writing. When you explain what you’re doing and why, Juliette learns about different uses of writing and print. Maybe next time she can write her own list to take on a shopping trip with you.”


Offer writing materials in all learning centers and outdoors.
When Mr. Winston makes a car wash prop box for outdoor play, he includes a small pad of paper and some pencils. During play, the children write and give receipts to customers who bring their vehicles to be washed.

Provide the materials needed to write, illustrate, and bind books.
After writing, illustrating, and binding their books about the birds that come to the window feeder, 4-year-olds Teresa and Yasmina proudly place them in the classroom library so other children can read them. 


Adapt writing tools so children who have difficulty with fine motor skills will be able to grasp them.
Jamal, age 4, is in the writing center seated at a table with raised legs so his wheelchair will fit. He finds that Ms. Stein has taped a piece of paper to the table and provided a basket of writing tools. He can choose to use one of the pencils with rubber grips; large pencils, crayons, and markers; a marker with a tennis ball attached to the middle section; or one of the pencils with foam tape wrapped around the middle.

Spend time observing and supporting individual children’s writing skills; respond with the tools, opportunities, and encouragement each child needs. 
Manuel, 4½, is writing a letter to his abuela (grandmother). She visited his family for several weeks, but now she has returned to El Salvador. He says, “Next time we Skype, I will read this to her.” Ms. Franco asks, “What do you want to tell her?” Manuel says, “I want to tell her that I miss her and that I played soccer with Papi.” Ms. Franco asks Manuel what help he would like to write it in Spanish.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 9, 2018