Donkey Kong in little bear country: A first grader’s composing development in the media spotlight

Dyson, Anne Haas
Elementary School Journal

Young children may make extensive use of media texts (e.g., movies, cartoons, songs) in their storytelling and play. Their experience with such texts may become evident as children learn to use and produce written texts. Through their writing, media material, such as the video creature Donkey Kong, may mingle with school material such as the literary creature Little Bear. In this article, I examine how media use informs child composing by drawing on data collected in an ethnographic project in an urban first grade. I focus on the influence of visual media involving animation. By untangling the complexities of 1 child’s case history, I illustrate how the media figure into the most basic processes of writing development, processes of differentiation of, translation across, and reframing within symbolic forms and social practices. I conclude with a consideration of the teaching challenges posed, and opportunities offered, by the children’s media use.