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Communication, Language & Literacy

Communication, Language and Literacy Domain

From birth, children are learning language and developing the ability to communicate. The Communication, Language, and Literacy domain describes many important aspects of children’s language and early literacy development.

Online Activities for Communication, Language & Literacy

Book Suggestions for Communication, Language & Literacy

Communication

Infants and toddlers understand more words than they can say. Children learn the meaning of words and other forms of communication first. Gradually, they learn to express themselves by starting to express their needs. They do this by

By the time they are preschoolers, most children have developed a large vocabulary and are learning the rules of language.

New Languages

As children are beginning to learn their family’s language, it is also a good time to begin learning another language. Brain research clearly shows that learning new languages is much easier if children begin early in life. There are many advantages to learning a new language. These include:

The Early Learning Guidelines promotes preschoolers to have opportunities to learn a new language.

Dual Language Learning

Dual Language Learning refers to children whose families speak a language other than English and are learning English as a new language. Children whose families speak a language other than English will probably demonstrate progress on the Early Learning Guidelines in their home language, so it’s important to encourage children and their families to continue to use their own language while learning English. Learning the home language will also lay a foundation for learning English.

Literacy Skills

Literacy skills become more important as they grow and develop. The youngest of children build their foundations for reading and writing as they:

Preschoolers learn to follow along as someone reads to them, remember and talk about familiar stories, learn the names of the letters of the alphabet, work with interactive media, and begin to be more intentional about what they draw and scribble. All of these characteristics and skills are important because they lay foundation to become successful readers and writers in elementary school. Adults responding consistently to children’s communication help them become good communicators, and this is important for infants and toddlers as they learn how to communicate nonverbally and then with words. Children learn early literacy skills the best while participating in daily routines.

Disabilities

Children with disabilities may need extra support when they are communicating with others. Listening devices may help them learn the sounds, words and expressions used in language. They may need therapy or assistive devices to help them communicate clearly. Teachers and caregivers should communicate with and observe young children carefully to determine if they are picking up communication skills early on and seek additional assistance if a child is delayed in this area.

Communicating and Oral Language Development

Goal CLL-1: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children successfully communicate for multiple purposes.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Respond to familiar faces, voices, or simple sign language by looking or making eye contact.
  • Briefly pay attention to the same object the caregiver is looking at.
  • Communicate nonverbally by repeatedly using actions to let adults know what they want (reach out arms to ask to be held).
  • Respond to simple requests (“Do you want more?”) with sounds, actions, or simple sign language.
  • Engage in turn-taking during social and vocal play with adults and other children (babbling, imitating facial expressions).
  • Respond to gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice, with words or simple sign language.
  • Establish joint attention by repeated cycles of looking at an object, at their caregiver, then back at the object.
  • Use sounds, actions, or simple words to initiate interaction and simple conversation with another person and make their needs known.
  • Follow simple directions and visual cues. (“Pick out your favorite book and I’ll read it to you.”)
  • Respond to simple statements and questions about pictures, play, people, and things that are happening.
  • Respond when others initiate conversation, as well as to their gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice using a larger variety of words or signs.
  • Engage in short back and forth conversations with adults and peers.
  • Ask questions or use verbal or nonverbal cues to initiate communication with another to make their needs known.
  • Follow two-step directions with visual cues if needed. (“Would you please return this book to the shelf and then come outside with me?”)
  • Answer and ask simple questions. (When asked, “What were you playing with?” Responds, “My blue truck.”)
  • With prompting and support, initiate and carry on conversations, make comments, and ask questions related to the topic of discussion.
  • With prompting and support, provide responses to questions and pose questions to learn new information, clarify ideas, and have their needs met.
  • Follow simple multi-step directions with visual cues if needed.
  • Show understanding of increasingly complex sentences.
  • Demonstrate motivation to communicate in play and everyday activities (excitedly describe block structure they are working on as adult sits down to join them).
  • Initiate and engage in conversation and discussions with adults and other children that include multiple back-and-forth exchanges.
  • Participate in a group discussion, making comments and asking questions related to the topic.
  • Provide meaningful responses to questions and pose questions to learn new information, clarify ideas, and have their needs met.
  • Follow multi-step directions that contain details. (“Please go to your room, find your blue shirt and put the dirty one in the laundry basket.”)
  • Appreciate and use humor.

Communicating and Oral Language Development

Goal CLL-2: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children speak clearly and use the grammar of their home language.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Make different sounds and actions for different purposes (coo to gain someone’s attention, whimper when wet, cry loudly when hungry).
  • “Jabber” and pretend to talk using many sounds or simple sign language from the languages used around them.
  • Communicate through facial expressions, sounds, and body movements, such as waving and nodding.
  • Expect others to understand them and show frustration if not understood.
  • “Jabber” and put together vocalizations mimicking the rhythm and flow of their home language.
  • Communicate messages with expression, tone, and inflection.
  • Use speech that is understood most of the time by familiar listeners.
  • Communicate in two to three word sentences that follow the word order of their home language.
  • Communicate messages with expression, tone, volume, and inflection appropriate to the situation most of the time.
  • Speak clearly enough to be understood by familiar adults and children.
  • Communicate in longer sentences and use many of the conventions of grammar in their home language (plurals, tenses, prepositions), although may over-generalize grammatical rules. (“There are lots of childs in our room.”)
  • Adapt their communication to meet social expectations (speak quietly in library, speak politely to older relative).
  • Speak clearly enough to be understood by most people, although may make some pronunciation errors.
  • Use complete sentences that are grammatically correct most of the time to express ideas, feelings, and intentions.

Communicating and Oral Language Development

Goal CLL-3: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children understand and use an everexpanding vocabulary.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Make specific sounds, facial expressions, and/or gestures for certain people and objects.
  • Imitate sounds, words, and gestures.
  • Recognize spoken or signed words used for common items, people, and actions.
  • Show steady increase in words they use (name family members and familiar objects).
  • Use simple words to label people and objects and make requests (“doggy,” “more,” “all done”).
  • Imitate familiar people, as well as repeating parts of songs and rhymes.
  • Respond to simple spoken or signed words and phrases that they hear often.
  • Use new words each day and have a word for almost all familiar people, objects, actions, conditions, and concepts (Gramma, chilly, big, little, in, out).
  • Talk to themselves and others about what they are doing, and events of the day.
  • Participate in or repeat familiar songs, chants, or rhymes.
  • Use words, actions, or signs to communicate during dramatic play to act out familiar scenes and events, and imitate familiar people.
  • Use many newly acquired words to describe meaningful objects and activities in their environment, including words for parts of objects (tail, paw) and more than one word for the same object (cat, kitty).
  • Describe experiences and create short stories.
  • Repeat familiar songs, chants, or rhymes.
  • Use simple phrases and responses to peers in their dramatic play as they imitate familiar people and events.
  • Demonstrate understanding of an increasingly rich vocabulary.
  • Use cues in the environment to figure out what words mean (figure out the meaning of “breeze” when out flying kites and adult says, “Wow, look at your kite flying in the breeze!”)
  • Make up names for things using words they know (froggy-fish for tadpole).
  • Use an increasingly rich and sophisticated vocabulary to clearly express their thoughts (using two or more new words each day in play and meaningful contexts).
  • Tell real or imaginary personal stories with more detail.
  • Independently sing or create their own songs, chants, and rhymes.
  • Act out defined roles and storylines in dramatic play with back-and-forth dialogue with each other.
  • Uses new subject-specific words after repeated exposure to meaningful experiences and vocabulary (after playing in the block area with an adult, using ramps and balls, talks about ramps and inclines).
  • Infer the meaning of new words from the context in which they are used (figuring out the correct names for two new foods when the adult says, “Today we’re having tortillas with beans and empanadas with sauce” by distinguishing between the beans and sauce).
  • Name other words for objects and actions (synonyms such as walk and stroll) and accurately choose the most appropriate term from two similar words. (“It’s not just warm, it’s burning hot!”)
  • Put similar words into categories (hat, mitten, coat, boot).
  • Name common opposites for some words.

FOUNDATIONS FOR READING

Goal CLL-4: Through their explorations, play and social interactions, children develop interest, motivation, and appreciation for literacy-based materials and activities.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Pat and chew on cloth, plastic, and board books.
  • Looks at pictures of faces and simple objects in books and other print media.
  • Listen to simple and repetitive books, stories, and songs.
  • Explore reading behaviors with assistance (choosing books, opening and closing books, or turning individual or grouped pages in a book).
  • Show interest in picture books, especially tactile books, point to pictures.
  • Listen to simple and repetitive books, stories, and songs for brief periods of time. (May join as caregiver finishes a short book with another child.)
  • Carry books around and ask caregiver to read favorite books aloud.
  • Explore reading behaviors independently (choosing books, opening and closing books, or turning individual or grouped pages in a book).
  • Show interest in choosing and exploring different types of books.
  • Listen for short periods of time to storybooks, informational books, stories, poetry, songs and finger plays. (Child enjoys several minutes as caregiver reads short book to a few children but may leave before the end.)
  • Engage in reading behaviors independently for several minutes at a time.
  • Show an interest in words and printed materials and other reading-related activities.
  • Listen to and discuss storybooks, simple information books, and poetry with a small group or individually with an adult.
  • Identify a variety of print resources, such as books and magazines.
  • Engage in reading behaviors independently with increased focus for longer periods of time.
  • Demonstrate motivation, interest and enjoyment in reading books and other printed materials, acting out stories while engaged in play independently and with others.
  • Listen to and discuss increasingly complex story books, information books, and poetry.
  • Identify a variety of print resources, including books, magazines, invitations, and cards, as well as e-books and other electronic media if available.
  • Point to title of book when asked after adult has read title and author.

Foundations for Reading

Goal CLL-5: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children comprehend, use, and begin to reflect on and analyze information in books and other media.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Show recognition or delight when caregiver reads a familiar story or sings a familiar song.
  • Listen to and repeat parts of simple and repetitive books, stories, songs, and finger plays.
  • Make appropriate sounds when looking at pictures. (When looking at a duck says, “Quack, quack.” When looking at a car says, “Vrrrrooom.”
  • Looks at most pages as caregiver reads short book.
  • While being read to by an adult, chime in by saying the word or repeated line in a book.
  • Pretend to read familiar books from memory; repeat familiar phrases while looking at a book.
  • With support, share personal experiences that relates to events described in familiar books.
  • Imitate repeated phrases in storybooks and story dialogue with some accuracy and detail.
  • Discuss storybooks by responding to questions about what is happening and predicting what will happen next, with prompting and support from an adult.
  • Use books and other media that communicate information to learn about the world by looking at pictures, asking questions, and talking about the information, with prompting and support from an adult.
  • Use their knowledge of the world (what things are, how things work) to make sense of stories and informational texts.
  • Relate personal experiences to events described in familiar books, with prompting and support.
  • Ask questions about a story or the information in a book.
  • Describe what they like or don’t like in a story or book.
  • Retell a story from a familiar book and relate it to real-life experiences, with prompting and support from an adult.
  • Make predictions of next steps in a story.
  • Name two or more similarities and differences between two characters, their experiences, or settings, when prompted by an adult.
  • Use informational texts and other media to learn about the world, infer from illustrations, ask questions, and talk about the information.
  • Use knowledge of the world to make sense of more challenging texts.
  • Relate personal experiences to an increasing variety of events described in familiar and new books.
  • Ask more focused and detailed questions about a story or the information in a book.
  • Give a reason for liking, or not liking, a story or book.

Foundations for Reading

Goal CLL-6: Through their explorations, play and social interactions, children begin to recognize basic concepts of print and discover that they can get meaning from print.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Explore books and paper by tasting, mouthing, crumpling, banging, and patting.
  • Look at pictures while cuddling with caregiver.
  • Sometimes treat pictures as real (licking a picture of ice cream, rubbing “fur” of a cat in a book)
  • Turn pages (but not always in the right order); point to and label pictures in books.
  • Show awareness of and identify some environmental print and logos (favorite cereal box, a sign for a familiar store).
  • Hold a book upright, turn some pages from front to back (but not always in the right order), close book, and say, “done” or “the end.”
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts of print, such as knowing the differences between pictures and print.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of realistic symbols such as photographs, and later abstract symbols such as signs and environmental print (know which pictures stand for which activities on a daily schedule; when looking at a symbol of hand-washing near a sink, says, “Wash hands.”)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the need for and the uses of print. (Pretend to read a “grocery list” during play. When looking at a menu, says, “I want oranges.”)
  • Demonstrate book-handling skills, such as holding a book right-side up and turning pages from front to back.
  • Recognize that print occurs in different forms and is used for a variety of functions, such as telling people what to do, where to store things, and when they will have a turn with prompting and support from an adult.
  • Recognize familiar environmental print, such as “STOP” signs, and realize the meaning of the words.
  • Hold a book upright while turning pages one by one from front to back.
  • Demonstrate understanding of some basic print conventions (the concept of what a letter is, the concept of words, directionality of print).
  • Run their finger under or over print as they pretend to read text, with prompting and support from an adult.
  • Recognize own first name in print and that of some friends.
  • Demonstrate knowledge that a symbol can represent something else; a word can stand for an object, a name for a person, or a picture for the real object (put blocks away on shelf labeled “blocks”).

Foundations for Reading

Goal CLL-7: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children listen, identify, and respond to sounds, and develop phonological awareness.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Imitate and take turns with caregivers making different sounds.
  • Explore and play with sounds by themselves and with others (make “raspberries” and other sounds).
  • Focus on and enjoy playing with repetitive sounds, words, rhymes, and gestures.
  • Express interest and sing along, clap, or move with rhyming and rhythmic songs.
  • Play with the sounds of language with another person (name and rhyming games, imitating rhyming words).
  • Participate in experiences using rhythmic patterns in poems and songs using words, clapping, marching, and/or using instruments.
  • Notice sounds that are the same and different.
  • Play with the sounds of language and begin to identify rhymes (make up silly-sounding words, repeat rhyming words).
  • Participate in rhyming and rhythmic experiences with books and other media, learning words and refrains well enough to repeat them and fill in missing words and sounds.
  • Repeat rhythmic patterns in poems and songs using words, clapping, marching, and/or using instruments.
  • Identify sounds and words in their daily environment.
  • Show joy in playing with the sounds of language, repeating songs, poems, finger plays, and rhymes, occasionally adding their own rhymes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to hear individual parts of words and separate the parts using clapping, finger snapping, or other movement (e.g., clapping out each syllable of pup-py, di-no-saur).
  • Repeat familiar songs, rhymes, and phrases from favorite storybooks.
  • Discriminate sounds in spoken language, recognizing rhyming sounds and the first sounds in some words.
  • Listen and respond to conversations with adults and other children during play.
  • Listen attentively to books and stories.

Foundations of Reading

Goal CLL-8: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions children develop knowledge of letters and the alphabetic principle.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)

Emerging

  • May point to print (such as their name) in everyday interactions.
  • Demonstrate an interest in letters by asking about and/or naming letters they encounter on objects in their environment (recognizing the big M on the McDonalds sign).
  • Demonstrate interest in learning the alphabet. (Draw abstract symbols on paper and ask adult, “What does this say?”)
  • Recognize and name some letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name (may initially think all words starting with the first letter in their name IS their name).
  • Recognize that letters of the alphabet as a special category of print, different from pictures, shapes, and numerals.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the Alphabetic Principle, the concept that the sounds of speech can be represented by one or more letters of the alphabet.
  • Recognize and name at least half of both upper and lower-case letters of the alphabet, including those in their own name and other words that are the most meaningful to them.
  • Make some sound-to-letter matches, using letter name knowledge. (Notice the letter “b” with a ball and say, “ball,” say, “a-a-apple.”)
  • Associate sounds with the letters at the beginning of some words, such as awareness that two words begin with the same letter and the same sound.

Foundations for Writing

Goal CLL-9: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children use writing and drawing as means of communication.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Make random marks with safe, simple writing tools with the support of a caregiver.
  • Make marks, scribble, and paint (cover easel paper with big crayon or paint marks, make marks with marker or crayon).
  • Pretend to write in ways that mimic adult writing (scribble on paper while sitting with caregiver who is writing, hold phone to ear and make marks with pencil).
  • Represent thoughts and ideas through marks, scribbles, drawings, and paintings (draw a picture of something they did during the day, indicate what they want for lunch with a mark under the picture of the food they want).
  • Communicate their thoughts for an adult to write, with prompting and support.
  • Engage in writing behaviors that imitate real-life situations (make marks to take food order during pretend restaurant play).
  • Explore typing letters on keyboard or other electronic device.
  • Represent thoughts and ideas in drawings and by writing letters or letter-like forms.
  • Demonstrate understanding that their spoken words can be represented with written letters or symbols as they dictate their thoughts, stories, and experiences for an adult to write.
  • Independently engage in writing behaviors for various purposes (write symbols or letters for names, use materials at writing center, write lists with symbols/ letters in pretend play, write messages that include letters or symbols).
  • Demonstrate motivation to draw and write during play, experimenting with writing tools, such as pencils, crayons, markers, computers and other electronic devices.

Foundations for Writing

Goal CLL-10: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions, children grow in their understanding of letters and writing skills.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Watch as others write and draw.
  • Hold marker or crayon with the fist.
  • Dot or scribble with crayons, and other materials; may progress to vertical lines, marks, or other forms of expression.
  • Explore a variety of tools that can be used for writing and transition from holding a crayon or marker in their fist to holding it between thumb and forefinger.
  • Scribble and/or imitate an adult’s marks with markers, crayons, paints, etc.
  • Use a variety of writing tools and materials with purpose and control (pencils, chalk, markers, crayons, paintbrushes, finger paint, computers).
  • Make marks they call “writing” that look different from drawings (vertical series of marks for a “grocery list,” horizontal line of marks for a “story”).
  • Play with writing letters and making letter-like forms, using letters and letter-like marks to write their name.
  • Show they know that written words are made up of particular letters (point to the first letter of their own name, find the first letter of their own name in a book or where multiple letters are present).
  • Use a variety of writing tools and materials with increasing precision.
  • Use drawing to represent their ideas and begin to use some recognizable letters and approximations of letters to attempt to write some familiar words and communicate a message.
  • Attempt to write their own name using a variety of materials (crayons, markers, in sand or shaving cream).
  • Try to connect the sounds in spoken words with letters in the written word. (Write “M” and say, “This is Mommy.”)
  • Use environmental print (such as signs, labels on food, and general print around them) to help in their writing, and ask adults for help in writing messages, lists, and stories.

Learning New Languages

Goal CLL-11: Through their explorations, play, and social interactions children demonstrate an understanding that there are multiple languages and begin to communicate in another language other than their home language.

Developmental Indicator Continuum

Infants
(Birth - 12 months)
Younger Toddlers
(8 - 21 months)
Older Toddlers
(18 - 36 months)
Younger Preschoolers
(36 - 48 months)
Older Preschoolers
(45 - 60+ months)
  • Emerging as infants listen to the sounds of their home language and other languages they hear.
  • Emerging as young toddlers listen to and repeat the sounds of their home language and other languages they hear.
  • Emerging as older toddlers listen to and repeat the sounds and simple words of their home language and other languages they hear.
  • Listen to peers and adults speaking in other languages to learn new information, and show some understanding of the new language.
  • Engage in nonverbal communication with those who speak a language other than their native language.
  • Use simple words and phrases in a language other than their home language to communicate with adults and other children.
  • Name at least one example of a language other than their home language.
  • Say simple greetings in another language, such as “hola” (“hello” in Spanish) and “adios” (“goodbye” in Spanish) or use sign language to express a greeting.
  • Play with sounds and intonation of new languages as well as their home language.
  • Identify names of common objects in the environment in a language other than their home language.
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