The picture here is showing the difference between a two year old and a three year old. The top is showing a child who is three and is starting to draw people in their pictures. The bottom picture is a 2 year old that while still scribbling told me what the scribbles represented. This is the postcard that came in the curriculum box for Mother Goose Time. This activity involves the children writing a postcard to their family and friends.
An important thing to remember about emergent writing skills is that they will change dramatically as the children grow. This chart from the NAEYC website shows the stages of writing that children move through as they get older. In my program I teach children from the drawing to the Kid writing phase. I have kids that enter the final phases of emergent writing but it it not expected for the children to enter those phases.
One of the most important parts of emergent writing is giving the children freedom to be creative with their writing. The postcard prompt is a good example of this. I told the children what they were doing and then I gave them the materials needed. While they were doing the projects I asked them what their pictures were about, some said they were drawing their families, one child told me their purple scribble was a unicorn. It was awesome watching their creativity bubble to the surface as they decided where their drawings were going.
Another part of emergent writing is that the children should see different types of handwriting. So they should see you writing when you do work for dictating their story. Watching you write down words will help them learn the process of handling the pencils and forming the letters. Also read out loud as you are writing the words.
Even as you do these things sometimes it will seem like they are making strides in their writing and that they are not showing interest, but if you keep writing samples you will be able to see the changes in their writing over the course of the year. It will shock and give you hope. While not all children move at the same pace, there is a reason for the way they are choosing to do what they do and it is ok.
Live Long and Keep Teaching!