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Tags: mark making



Start Mark Making with Messy Play

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: flour, fun, jelly, mark making, messy play, pasta, sand, water

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Messy Play is a fun and important part of play - babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are always delighted to get their hands stuck in to some messy play.  They get to feel and touch items and substances they wouldn't normally handle.  But, it is also useful for the beginnings of mark-making and ideal for observing their world and how different ingredients change when mixed up.  Most importantly - it is fun!

Get a large tray such as a baking tray with fairly deep sides to use when doing messy play. Add some ingredients to the tray and encourage the little ones to mix and feel and play with the substances.

  • Flour: Place some flour on the tray.  Get some small toys to drive through the flour to make tracks.  Mix with spoons and sprinkle with glitter to make it sparkly.
  • Flour and water: Add some water to make it slushy and really messy!  Great fun!
  • Oats: Add three spoon and bowls and some washable teddies and act out the tree bears story!
  • Shaving foam: A cheap can of shaving foam can be sprayed on the tray and used to make patterns and marks with spoons and tools etc.
  • Jelly: Make up some different colours and cut them up with blunt knives, mix them and squelch them together.
  • Pasta: Different shaped pasta and rice can be mixed, sorted and sprinkled.  Let the children use their imagination. Make  necklace by threading onto string if you have time.
  • Cornflour: Mix cornflour and water to make a heavenly gloopy, sticky messy substance to play with. 
  • Sand: Make a beach, add water in a bowl for sea and mix it all together.  Make letter shapes and patterns in the sand or drive through some favourite toys or cars.
  • Water play: Put some water in a sink or old baby bath and use it to play!  Fill containers, make showers, sprinkle with glitter, use spoons and ladles and have fun!  Add ducks or some dolls to wash.

Remember to protect clothing, floor, tables and keep any valuables away from the mess.  Have fun!



Stages of Writing

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Child Development , Tags: drawing, mark making, writing

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It may look like scribbles to us, but from a very early age, the marks that children make on a page are an important step towards learning to write and communicating; through their marks children are communicating their ideas, showing us how they feel and developing their imagination.  They are also being creative - however messy or scribbly their picture or words look.   Having lots of opportunities to make marks is fundamental and every child should have the chance to draw, scribble, make lines and pictures when ever they want.

From the moment a baby holds a crayon and makes their very first mark on a page, their journey towards writing has begun.  But it needn't be a conventional pencil they write with first on a clean sheet of paper.  There are all sorts of other ways to get babies and toddlers used to the idea of mark making.

By a year old, a child can grasp and reach for objects by choice and at this age it is good to introduce all sorts of media to their world in order for them to be confident when using different materials.  They can grip objects with the palm of their hand, use a pincer movement with thumb and finger and point.  So once they can do this, they can begin mark making using things other than pencils.

Babies start mark making by:

  1. Making patterns in food (using a spoon to squash mash potato and make lines and curves)
  2. Putting their fingers in spilled baked beans and making patterns with their finger (messy, but it's a start!)
  3. Smearing jam over their arm and making interesting marks

Early stages of writing:

  1. Holding a pencil or crayon in the palm of the hand
  2. Making lots of random marks on the paper (scribbles!)
  3. Holding crayons more securely
  4. Making specific marks
  5. Making circles that they draw closed (ie a round circle that joins up)
  6. Combining circles and lines
  7. Copying adult's drawings
  8. Making lines of zig-zags or little circles more like lines of writing

Although it is only scribbling, those early marks made by a toddlers are the first steps towards writing... and its a long journey.  The best way is to encourage and praise at every stage - even when you are presented with a mass of scribbles and you are told its a giraffe!  To the little ones its clearly a giraffe.  To us, its a smudged, messy page of lines and circles.  So, try and be enthusiastic and encourage at every step.

Beginning legible Writing

  1. The child then begins to copy letters from their name - the first letter is usually their first one to choose.
  2. They understand that drawing and writing is different
  3. They are aware that words communicate a message
  4. They then form symbols and letters that they recognise (favourite letters they know well)
  5. They become aware of the left to right nature of writing
  6. They then begin to want to "read" their words and other words

Beginning to write Words

  1. They then are able with practice to start writing their name with upper and lower case letters
  2. They write sentences
  3. They use upper case letter at the beginning of the sentence and add a full stop at the end
  4. Start using words in play such as writing a list or playing schools and writing lists of names


Mark Making Ideas

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Child Development, Preschool Children, Kids Activities , Tags: chalk, crayons, drawing, finger paint, ideas, mark making, messy play, paper, pencils, sand, writing

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It may look like scribbles, but from a very early age, the marks that children make on a page are an important step towards learning to write and communicate.  Through their marks children are communicating their ideas, showing us how they feel and developing their own imagination.  They are also being creative no matter how messy or scribbly their picture or words look to us when they have finished.

Give your child regular opportunities to make marks, draw, scribble, make lines and create pictures - at home, in the garden, in the park, at the restaurant, in the car.  There are lots of times you can settle them down to draw and write and keep themselves entertained at the same time!

From the moment a baby holds a crayon and makes their very first mark on a page, their journey towards writing had begun.   It may not be a conventional pencil used to write on a clean sheet of paper, but there are all sorts of other ways to get babies and toddlers used to the idea of mark making.   Here are  a few ideas to begin with:

  • Salt Tray: Sprinkle salt into a tray and let your child make swirls and lines and marks. Put some tools in there too so they can use those.
  • Cornflakes: A tray of cornflakes makes a crunchy media to play with and make marks in. Listen to the noise as you crunch them and let them fall between your fingers.
  • Flour: A tray of flour is great for mark making as the lines remain. When they want a clean tray to write in, just shake it flat. Or add water making it gooey and slimy. Great fun!
  • Textured messy play: Add lentils, beads, pasta to wet flour and make it more textured.
  • Finger paint: Draw pictures and make marks with finger paints.
  • Sky write: Get children to make letters in the sky.
  • Back writing: Draw shapes on a child's back and see if they can make it out.
  • Sand tray: Draw a shape or letter in a tray of sand and get your child to trace over it.  Shake the sand flat to start again.
  • Chalk: Draw letters and patterns on a chalk board or pavement
  • Pencils and crayons: Get lots of different and fun crayons and pencils for your child to experiment with.  Each feels different and makes different marks.
  • Paper: Get different types of paper, colours, textured, lined etc and have fun working with each sort.


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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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