Supporting Emergent Literacy


Studies have shown that children who are exposed to print early in life learn to read earlier and have more solid reading and writing skills. In this course you will learn to support emergent literacy in your classroom. 


Early Literacy for Infants & Toddlers

Literacy Begins at Birth

A common misconception about literacy development is that children "learn to read" when they go to school, but in reality, literacy absorption begins at birth. This is why it is imperative to begin  exposing children to literacy as early as possible.

2,100 Words

Watch This!

Yes, you heard that right! Babies born into professional families will hear 30 million more words than their peers who are not born into professional families.

As educators, we play a role in whether or not ALL children have the opportunity to hear at least 30 million words by age 3. 

Knowing this, you can be purposeful in the way that you teach, to make sure you are helping to give all students the head start they deserve. 

Throughout your day, make sure you talk and talk and talk some more to children. Use complete sentences and many and varied vocabulary. 

Sing Along

Join in the Party!

Introducing children to literacy is inclusive of so many things! Of course, one of the most important ways is simply by talking to young children-a lot! 

Along with talking to children, another great way to support literacy development is through playing songs and singing along to the words or singing nursery rhymes with and to children. 

Nursery Rhymes

Baa, Baa Black Sheep Nursery Rhyme

Baa, Baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir -three bags full:One for the master, one for the dame, And one for the little boy that lives down the lane.

Baa, Baa, black sheep, have you any wool?Yes sir, yes sir -three bags full.

Baa, Baa, white sheep, have you any wool?Yes sir, yes sir -three bags full:One for the master,one for the dame,And one for the little boythat lives down the lane.

Baa, Baa, white sheep, have you any wool?Yes sir, yes sir -three bags full.

Baa, Baa, striped sheep, have you any wool?No sir, no sir -No bags full:None for the master,none for the dame,And none for the little boythat lives down the lane.

Striped sheep, why sheep, have you no more wool?Oh sir, because sir -*pause*  I'm a zebra!


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.All the king's horses and all the king's menCouldn't put Humpty together again! 

Little Bo Peep 

Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep,And doesn't know where to find them.Leave them alone and they'll come home,Wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep,And dreamt she heard them bleating;But when she awoke, she found it a joke,For they were still a-fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,Determined for to find them;She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,For they'd left all their tails behind them.

Nursery Rhymes

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,Eating her curds and whey,

Along came a spider who sat down beside her,And frightened Miss Muffet away!


 "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

The itsy, bitsy spider, climbed up the water spout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,

So the itsy, bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary had a little lambWhose fleece as white as snow.And everywhere that Mary went,The lamb was sure to go!

It followed her to school one day,which was against the rules.It made the children laugh and play,To see a lamb at school.

Environmental Print & Literacy

Road Signs 

                 Restaurant Logos 

Road Signs, Store and Other Logos 

Recognition of Environment Print is a great example of children learning to "read." How often have you heard a child point to the Golden Arches and say, "McDonald's?" 

The child didn't actually read the word McDonald's, but recognizing the logo associated with the business is a form of reading for young children.

Include these types of logos in throughout your classroom and talk to children about them. Allow the children to point out the logos they recognize, and praise them for doing a great job of "reading."

Reading to Young Children

Reading Aloud to Young Children

Read Alouds are a great way to promote early literacy in infants and toddlers. In doing so, you are reinforcing the idea that exposing children to lots of words leads to success.

It is also another introduction to print awareness. Children learn that the words and pictures in books have meaning and if done correctly, it helps children to develop an interest in reading at an early age, that will hopefully continue through life. 

The attached video demonstrates what reading aloud to infants and toddlers looks like in practice. 

It Starts with You!

It is said that parents are their child's first teacher, and I agree. I also realize that many children spend more waking hours with educators than they do with parents. It is your responsibility to provide children with as many literacy opportunities as possible, beginning with infants and toddlers.

Emergent Literacy

What is Emergent Literacy

Emergent Literacy Defined 

Emergent Literacy is a child's awareness of reading and writing skills before he/she can actually read or write.

What are the Key Components or Emergent Literacy?

I'm so glad you asked that question. Each component plays a significant role in literacy development over time, so it is important that early childhood educators are knowledgeable of each skill.

Print motivation

Print motivation is the first step of emergent literacy. Through this step, children become interested in print materials. Because this step occurs before the child can actually read or write, the child’s interest is seen through the enjoyment of being read to, playing with books and pretending to read or write.


Vocabulary development is a significant predictor to a child’s overall academic achievement. Vocabulary can be measured or seen as a child’s ability to know the name of things.

Print awareness

Print awareness is the step in which children learn how to handle a book and begin to recognize the differences between letters and words. During this step children also learn how texts are organized, realizing that reading is completed from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.

Narrative skills

Narrative skills is the literacy step when children develop the ability to tell a story or describe a sequence of events.

Letter awareness

Letter awareness occurs when children understand that letters are unique from each other and begin to recognize different letters and their sounds.

Phonological awareness

Phonological awareness is the process by which children begin to understand that words are made up of different sounds or phonemes, and that stringing these sounds together creates words and results in meaning.

-Concordia University

Print Motivation

Pretending to Read or being Read to

Print motivation essentially means a child's excitement over printed materials. You can read to students as a whole group, or individually and express your own excitement at reading. 

You can also have an open library so children can have experiences with books on their own, including pretending to read.

Recognition of Familiar Logos 

Excitement over printed materials is not only limited to books. Many children get excited at seeing familiar logos from restaurants, toys, or road signs.


Earlier in this course we discussed how some children hear as many as 2,100 words per hour. This helps as children begin to speak and start using vocabulary to communicate. 

This example uses printed words in addition to the teacher's spoken words, so when the child hears the words crayons, scissors or glue, they can see that this spoken vocabulary can also be expressed in written form. 

Do you think you are speaking 2,100 words per hour in your classroom?

Print Awareness

Using the knowledge you have gained in this course. Create a lesson plan for Early or Emergent learners.