Stage 1: Let’s Learn Our ABC’s (roughly 2-5 years old)


  • “pretend read” stories
  • can sing their ABC’s;may or may not be able to single out particular letters
  • may recognize the first letter of their name
  • recognize environmental print, such as the name of their favorite cereal or McDonald’s golden “M”
  • “spell” haphazardly with marks (such as scribbles) all over the paper
  • drawing and writing are indistinguishable
  • may be able to “read” some words that are important to them, such as their name, but may think that other words beginning with the first letter of their name are also their name
  • knows most of their letters, possibly even some sounds
  • have some books favorite books memorized and can “read” them
  • environmental print becomes more important (STOP sign, etc.)
  • are curious about words and may ask, “What’s that word?”
  • Begins to understand “book language” such as front cover, back cover, etc.
  • symbols that resemble letters or numbers may be used
  • real letters and numbers may be used, but the speller does not understand that letters represent sounds in words, so house may be spelled A1XT
  • prefer writing uppercase letters over lowercase letters
  • begin to write from left to right
  • drawing and writing begin to become distinguishable
  • do not always put space in between words
  • may be able to track the print as you read simple books
  • understands more “book language” such as author, title, etc.
  • knows ABC’s and most consonant sounds
  • uppercase letters are easier to identify than lower case letters
  • add a few more words to their sight vocabulary (important words to them)
  • can read their name and realize that other words also start with the same letter as their name
  • some children may be able to “play games” with word sounds–rhyming, syllables, and individual letter sounds (phonemes) within words /c/ /a/ /t/

(WTW 3rd ed, 22  & Reading Development)

  • begin to match letters to sounds in words, so a word such as ball may be spelled with just the letter B, or G for alligator
  • still tend to prefer writing with uppercase letters over lowercase letters
  • may confuse letters that sound and/or look the same (b, d, p, q)
  • spacing in between words becomes more regular, but can still be random at times

WTW calls them Emergent Spellers

(WTW 3rd ed, 11 & Stages of Spelling Development)


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