North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Skills for ages 33-36 Months

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Language Development and Communication

Understands descriptive words (e.g., hot, dirty, broken, wet)

Identifies colors

Understands spatial concepts (e.g., under, beside)

Understands categories

Knows gender

Listens for up to 20 minutes in one-on-one situations with preferred books

Follows a narrative and talks about it

Talks to self but begins talking to peers rather than adults

Understands questions about objects, people and basic routines

Regularly asks for clarification

Asks a variety of questions, including “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “is,” and “do”

Speech is 75% intelligible

85% of children correctly produce the following: Initial sound: /t, g, k, f, w/ Medial sound: /f, g, k, ng, p, t/ Final sound: /b, d, g, k, n, t/

Produces all vowel sounds

Produces some consonant clusters (e.g., st, sp, bl, fr, sw, etc.)

Produces the syllable structures: CV, VC, CCV (sky), CCVC (stop), CVCC (dogs), and VCC (egg

Awareness of and ability to rhyme emerges

Simplifies words that are multisyllabic to CV or CVCV form (e.g., banana becomes "nana")

Produces substitutions and distortions of consonants

No longer substitutes a voiced consonant for an unvoiced consonant (e.g., zun/sun)

Substitutes /f/ for voiceless /th/ (e.g., fumb/thumb)

Produces declaratives, negatives, questions, and imperatives

Produces complex sentences

Produces spatial, comparative, and temporal concepts in discussion

Produces and, but, and because to combine sentences

Dresses up to represent characters and uses props in dramatic play

Talks about how the characters feel

Acts out several familiar events in dramatic play (feeding the baby, reading to baby, putting baby to bed) with complex commentary

Includes peers in play

Produces dialogue in narrative dramatic play, with the sentences building upon each other

Produces the following morphemes: Uncontractible copula (“Who’s here? I am.”)

Produces complex sentences (combines independent clause and dependent clause) such as “I have the game that you gave me.”

Produces compound sentences (two or more independent clauses or simple sentences combined by and, but, or) such as “I ate and I went to bed.

Produces infinitive phrase “have got to..."

Uses “wh” questions (e.g., what, where, when, who, why)

Knows counting words to 10 (may be inaccurate)

Names a circle when asked “What shape is this?"

Uses pronouns as subjects and objects (I, you, he she, it, we, they; me, you him, her, it, us, them)

Learns 3-6 words a day depending on exposure and experiences

Asks questions about the pictures, vocabulary, and story

Recognizes some environmental text

Starts to memorize words, lines, or whole segments of a favorite book

Notices print in the environment and asks what it “says”

Recites familiar phrases of songs, books and rhymes

Produces rhymes in a vocal game (e.g., fat, sat, cat, rat)

Recognizes the A-B-C song and sings it, but without knowing what letters are

Distinguishes writing from drawing

Draws recognizable forms (e.g., face, flower)

Imitates a cross

Engages in scribble writing

Makes marks to create writing, explains what the writing “says”

Attempts to make first letter of own name, but the appearance is unconventional

Attempts to make first letter of own name, but the appearance is unconventional

Knows letters are made of lines and curves, combines lines and curves in creative ways to represent letters

Imitates drawing a circle

Imitates drawing a cross

Traces on a horizontal line without going off too much

Makes marks that look like letter shapes

Cognitive Development

Uses household objects (pillows, blankets, boxes) to create spaces to explore

Remembers finger plays and acts out sequences in dramatic play

Remembers events up to 18 months in the past

Attends to key aspects of an object or situation to figure out how to work it or solve the problem

Tries alternatives if first attempt at problem solving doesn’t work; may then ask for help

Beginning to select friends

Names or sings favorite songs, finger plays, etc.

Remembers and looks for specific photos or illustrations in books (i.e. favorite pictures)

Pretends to be something with movements, such as falling leaf, snow flake, cloud, flower, etc.

Constructs structures or items for dramatic play (e.g., makes box into a car)

Creates pictures with fingers in writing position

Acts out dramatic play with others playing roles (mommy, baby)

Beginning to form friendships

Knows gender when asked

Knows gender

Adjusts language and play for younger playmates

Counts using fingers, but loses track of numbers

Rote counts 1-10 consistently

Counts 1-5 items with one-to-one correspondence

Visually identifies “same” or “more” (may be wrong)

Understands concept of “all” or “none” relating to number of objects

Examines a small group of objects and knows which has more if there is a big discrepancy

Starts to recognize written numbers

Combines or takes away from a set to make a set of up to three objects

Mentally thinks that if you give him one more he’ll have two; and if he has two items and you take one away he’ll have one left

Identifies more, and the same in two groups of the items (1-4 items) if the groups are organized differently

Knows empty/full; small/smaller; large/larger

Length/Height: Produces labels for measuring, such as tall/long

Time: Knows today, tonight, last night

Notices simple repeat patterns (short, long, short, long) in block set

Recognizes a simple pattern with one different attribute

Sorts colors

Combines new and previous experience to sort objects by size, type, color, or shape

Sorts basic shapes

Recognizes and names typical circle, square, triangle

May name rectangle, but may confuse other shapes and call them rectangles

Creates a picture using one shape (snowman from circles)

Takes shapes apart

Finds objects based on the location of landmarks (e.g., your hat is on the kitchen chair)

Intentionally repeats actions to see if results will differ (rolling objects down a ramp, waiving bubbles)

Associative socio-dramatic play among peers. (play together, but with different goals)

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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