North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Skills for ages 36-42 Months

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Language Development and Communication

Understands words for shapes, sizes, and position (in front of, behind, top, bottom)

Understands descriptive terms (e.g., hard, soft, rough, smooth)

Follows two-step unrelated directions

Understands “why” questions

Follows meaning in conversation among numerous people

Interrupts and talks over others to give own ideas in a group

Understands meaning, even if indirectly stated (e.g., “I need my shoe” implies “Give me my shoe”)

Still seeks out adults for conversations, but prefers peers

Understands “how many,” “whose,” and “why” questions

Regularly requests clarifications

May produce all 24 consonants (stops: /p, b, t, d, k, g/; fricatives: /f, v, s, z, h/, sh, th (as in “the” and “this”), zh; affricates: /j, ch/ liquids: /l ,r/; glides: /w, j/; nasals: /m, n, ng/

May use stopping, or substituting a stop /b, p, d, t, g, k/ for a fricative /s, z, f, v, th, h, sh, zh/ (e.g., moud/mouse)

May use fronting, produce a consonant in the front of the mouth that should be produced in the back (tar/car)

May use cluster reduction (tuck/truck)

75% of children: No longer delete final consonants (e.g., ba/ball)

75% of children: No longer change one sound or syllable in the word to be like another (e.g., goggie/doggie)

75% of children: No longer repeat syllables (e.g., baba/bottle)

Connected speech intelligible

Produces pronouns appropriately

Uses word order to understand communication

Plays with miniatures, such as a dollhouse, garage, school house, etc. to act out familiar sequences; provides a narrative to actions

Discusses what props are needed and what should happen next in the play; dialogue is interactive

Produces the following morphemes: Articles (a, the) Third person regular verbs (“he goes”, “she eats”) Contractible copula use of is (“here’s the ball”) Uncontractible auxiliary (“He is” in response to question, “Who is…?”)

Uses descriptive vocabulary: Names shapes (circle, square, triangle); names several colors; names sizes; names textures; uses kinship words (sister, grandma)

Infers meaning of words from illustrations in a book

Uses environmental context to figure out meanings of words

Acquires “verbally defined” (i.e. explained by an adult) words that are more abstract (e.g., think, weather, wonderful)

Tells story when looking at a familiar book

Listens to longer stories

Discusses actions in pictures

Recalls 1-2 elements from an unfamiliar story that was just read

Connects details, information, and events in a story to real-life experiences

Asks questions and makes comments to demonstrate understanding of literal meaning of story

Understands what print is

Recognizes print in the local environment

Indicates enjoyment when hearing alliteration stories

Knows some letters in own name

Points out words that rhyme in songs, poems, and predictable books

Comments about words that have the same sounds

Organizes messages or stories written with scribble writing with adult assistance

Dictates words for the adult to write down

Uses 3 fingers to hold pencil to write

Draws circle spontaneously

Scribbles begin to resemble letter-like designs (mock letters), uses scribbles frequently

Draws known letters in unique ways, using segments and sequences of marks

Copies models of horizontal and vertical lines and a circle

Traces around the edge of a basic shape template

May try writing one or more letters in own name

Cognitive Development

Constructs enclosures of different sizes in dramatic play

Dramatizes favorite stories and events

Asks about how things work and why things are done in a specific way

Describes own feelings and is aware of other peoples’ feelings and perspectives

Determines dramatic play themes and leads others

Imbues music, dances with emotion

Recognizes emotions in pictures

Dances and sings to familiar music

Spontaneously creates rhythms

Draws faces

Asks adults to show them how to draw or create something

Makes collages with all kinds of materials, glues things together

Develops a theme in dramatic play (doctor, waitress)

Silly boisterous humor among peers and siblings

Frequent sibling rivalry and arguments

Prefers peer interactions to adult interactions

Follows classroom rules part of the time

Modifies language and interactions when playing with younger children

Demonstrates a preference for same-sex peers

Notices peers with similar interests

Keeps one-to-one correspondence of from 3 to 5 items, but doesn’t know “how many in total”

Compares amounts in two groups up to six items by matching with one-to-one correspondence (gives each toy animal a block for hay)

May be confused by amount if one set of items is physically larger

Recognizes several written numbers

Uses graphics to add small numbers by drawing pictures, then counting up to 3 items

Understands largest/ smallest

Compares pictures, colors, shapes to do simple puzzles

Length/Height: Uses the terms longer/taller functionally in play or daily routines

Amount: Knows larger container holds more

Time: Knows yesterday, tomorrow

Time: Knows parts of the day when specific activities take place

Compares shapes and makes patterns

Recognizes simple pictures made with shapes (square and triangle look like a house)

Knows sequence of daily events

Classifies by shape, size, color individually (not two characteristics)

Matches colors (orange, purple, brown, black, pink gray, white)

Makes inferences about which category an item fits into

Matches familiar shapes of different sizes and orientation

Matches rectangles

Builds three-dimensional structures using one type of item (e.g., a cube) and/or multiple types of items (e.g., a rectangular prism, cube and arches)

Builds with blocks in all directions with the intent of make a representation of something

Asks questions about nature

Makes observations about creatures and plants in nature

Uses nature vocabulary

Knows weather requires different clothing

Remembers one of several objects shown and then hidden

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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