Preschoolers' Differentation of Writing and Drawing: Comparisions of US and Chinese Children

Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2013

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Young children usually begin to receive formal instruction in writing when they reach grade school, and some traditional views have suggested that it is only at this time that children begin to learn about print. However, it is becoming apparent in recent years that knowledge about print does not suddenly appear when children receive formal instruction. Instead, some knowledge about print is acquired in the early preschool years. This knowledge, called emergent literacy, is suggested to be an important precursor to children’s literacy skills when they reach grade school (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998; Teale & Sulzby, 1986). To investigate why such a relationship occurs, it is important to further our understanding of what specific aspects of language the preschool children understand.

In our current study, we combined different methods to get at how young children exhibit conventions of their writing system in their productions, which is one component of emergent literacy. Moreover, we compared this with their drawing productions. We compared children’s understanding of writing and drawing conventions because, although these two systems are both means of communication, and tend to appear together in children’s books, they are distinct in a variety of ways. For example, a drawing of a cat looks like its referent. On the other hand, understanding what the written word ‘cat’ means requires several steps. First, children need to know which letter corresponds to which sounds in the language. Then, they need to understand how these sounds correspond to the referent ‘cat’. Writings tend to be smaller and are made with dark lines, whereas drawings are more colorful, larger, and consist of more round shapes that are filled in (Levin, Both–de Vries, Aram & Bus, 2005).


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Becky Treiman

Committee Members

Brett Kessler, Lori Markson


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7NS0RTX

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