Children scribble/form letters and possibly strings of letters without the awareness that letters represent phonemes or speech sounds.
Early phonemic spelling:
Limited attempts to represent phonemes with letters for example, 'nt' for night.
The child uses letters to represent phonemes for example, lik for like. The child represents most phonemes and understands the concept of a word.
Children show evidence of internalizing much information about spelling patterns. Rules are employed, though not always correctly. Transitional spelling is common in first through third grade children.
At this stage children spell most words correctly. This stage generally occurs by the middle to the end of third grade into fourth grade. Children at this point are ready to learn some of the more complex rules governing difficult vowel and consonant combinations and irregular spelling.
Based on the research of Richard Gentry, 1982, cited in the book Invitations by Regie Routman