Two longitudinal studies were conducted to investigate the development of Brazilian Portuguese-speaking children's ability to spell words in light of Ferreiro's and Ehri's models of spelling development. Twenty children participated in the 1st study. Their spelling skills were evaluated periodically from ages 4 to 6 years. The 124 children who participated in the 2nd study ranged from 4 to 7 years of age. They were tested twice, with an interval of approximately 6 months. The results suggest that Ehri's partial alphabetic phase offers a more parsimonious explanation of children's early understanding of the relationship between print and speech than does Ferreiro's syllabic stage. It is argued that syllabic spellings are more accurately depicted as an instance of partial alphabetic spellings.