CMNetwork E-bulletin: November 2012

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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Gallery 6: Representational Genres


In settings that support children’s meaning making and are rich in graphicacy, drawing on their home cultural knowledge young children will spontaneously use a wide range of writing genres to communicate their ideas in play. These examples of early lists cross the boundaries of drawing, writing and mathematics, enabling children to experiment with the different symbolic systems.

In the first example above, Nathan (3 years 7 months) was playing shops. He used crosses to convey meaning for the shopping list he made, reading ‘carrots, potatoes and spaghetti’. As Clay (1975) showed, in their emergent writing young children will sometimes repeatedly use a symbol they know to convey their ideas. Research has also shown the amazing versatility and power in children’s spontaneous use of crosses, using them to represent a wide variety of things in their drawings and maps, as well as in their emergent writing and their mathematical graphics. (Worthington, 2009).

In the second example an adult commented on the marks 3 year old Sameeha had made, observing ‘You’ve made a pattern.’ But Sameeha was clear about her intention, explaining ‘It isn’t a pattern – it’s lists!’ In this example it appeared that Sameeha was imitating the action of writing a list, with one item beneath another down the page.

For further examples of children making lists, see: Amelia’s shopping list and Liana’s ‘Picture for my Mum’ in Gallery 5 and ‘Making dinner registers’ and Chloe’s dinner register in Gallery 4.

Clay, M. (1975) What did I write? London: Heinemann.

Worthington. M. (2009) 'Fish in the water of culture: signs and symbols in young children’s drawing', Psychology of Education Review Volume 33, Number 1, March 2009.

Taxonomy: Making meanings in pretence and imagination

Gallery 3: Redcliffe Children’s Centre and maintained nursery

New Members

From the South and South West of England, welcome to Karen Noone from ‘Little Monkeys’ Day Nursery, Cawsand, Cornwall.


Carruthers, E. (2012) 'The pedagogy of children's mathematical graphics'. In M. McAteer (Ed.) Improving Primary Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Worthington, M. (2012) 'Children becoming expert symbol users'. In M. McAteer (Ed.) Improving Primary Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

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