Let's Go to the Movies

Children's Textual Practices Before and During a Play-Based Classroom Initiative


  • Nicola Friedrich OISE/University of Toronto
  • Christine Portier


early literacy, writing, kindergarten, play


This paper describes the textual practices of kindergarten children as they co-created and participated in a movie theatre play context within their rural classroom. Data informing this paper were drawn from classroom videos of children (aged 3-5 years) as they engaged in activities associated with the movie theatre, field notes from action research meetings with the classroom teacher and early childhood educator, and the texts created by the children while participating in the initiative. In relation to research questions, we coded and then identified patterns in the children’s text-making activities and corresponding texts. Our analysis found that the children created texts in preparation for and while participating in the play initiative, revealing their emerging knowledge of the alphabetic principle and print genres. Through their creating of textual materials and during their enactment of roles within the play context, the children also demonstrated their understandings about the social functions of different texts. Insights from this analysis build on the literature regarding young children’s early writing development through play, and may encourage educators to co-create dramatic play initiatives with their students to extend literacy learning beyond the acquisition of emergent writing skills.

Author Biography

  • Christine Portier

    Christine Portier, PhD, is an independent educational researcher and consultant, conducting in-house studies for school boards, reviewing and developing literacy documents for international educators, and providing professional development seminars for K-12 educators. She recently worked as a graduate course instructor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto, and as a postdoctoral fellow for the NOW Play Project, working with northern rural Canadian educators to support young children’s oral language and writing development through play in classrooms. She earned a Master of Education in Adaptive Instruction and Special Education and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Pedagogy from the University of Toronto. Prior to these studies, she worked as a K – 6 classroom teacher.


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