Incubating Ideas: Developing Thinking, Speaking, and Writing in a Japanese 1st Grade

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

literacy, early childhood


As young children enter formal schooling, they are at various points along their individual developmental paths toward literacy. Generally, their egocentric speech is becoming more social and they are building their capacity for logical thought and concrete problem-solving. This is a gradual development and teachers can support children's literacy growth by crafting instructional approaches that tap into children's creativity and support their autonomy. Direct experiences and plenty of opportunities to observe will help young children build cognitive and social capacities, providing the foundation for higher level thinking. This article describes the work of a 1st-grade teacher in Japan who “incubates” his students' literacy growth through direct experience, peer learning, and interaction with picture books.