The Importance of Mark Making for Early Years

mark making outdoors

“Scribbles are products of a systematic investigation, rather than haphazard actions” 

– John Matthews

Encourage children to make their mark! Young children have a natural desire to explore and experiment. They relish in the sensory and physical experience of mark making – enjoying the sensation of marker pens gliding across a whiteboard, paint smearing onto an easel, chalk scraping into the tarmac and grains of sand running through their fingers.

Mark making is much more than just a scribble! Babies and toddlers learn and begin to make sense of the world through mark making. It is the beginning of a child’s journey towards writing and is an important step in a child’s development for handwriting, creativity and coordination. Initially children take pleasure from the physical activity of mark making, but as they develop, they realise that they can control their marks and their creativity starts to thrive.

What is mark making?

Mark making simply refers to the creation of different patterns, lines, textures and shapes. This term is typically used to describe the scribbles that early years children make on a piece of paper with pens, pencils or crayons. However, this doesn’t just refer to squiggles made with stationery, children are still making marks if they use their hands, paintbrushes or sticks.

This gives children the opportunity to express themselves and explore new materials other than pen and paper. Encourage them to create marks using their fingers to draw in the sand, paint on an easel or prod them into soft dough. This activity isn’t just bound to the indoors either – head outside with the children to explore the natural world and take mark making to the next level! Let them drag a stick through the mud or go wild with colours with a jumbo Outdoor Kit!

Why is mark making so important?

A step towards writing…

Research has shown that mark making is crucial for a child’s development and learning. It not only teaches young children how to hold a pen correctly, but it also prepares them for writing and develops their handwriting skills.

Physical development

When children are making these early marks, they are practising to hold a pencil and are attempting to control their marks with their muscles. This enhances their physical development by improving their fine motor skills and helps to develop their hand-eye coordination.

Creative representation

Mark making can also represent a child’s thoughts and ideas. It gives children the opportunity to express themselves creatively and allows them to communicate their feelings through their drawings or even use their marks to tell a story! As they develop, their marks become more complex and sophisticated and their creativity blooms.

Brain and language development

By giving children the opportunity to explore different mediums of mark making, it engages them in sensory play and allows them to discover new exciting materials. This helps to enhance a child’s critical thinking, brain development and language development, which gives them the ability to build towards more complex learning tasks in the future. These marks can also support emerging concepts of maths, developing into mathematical representation and enhancing learning.

What mark making resources are available?

There is a huge range of stationery available for mark making – including various pens, markers, crayons, chalks, pastels, pencils, paper and card. But, you’re not bound to stationery. Explore our complete Arts and Crafts and handwriting section on our website to discover an exciting range of different mark making materials – including paints, dough, sand and much more!

We also boast a fantastic selection of kids mark making kits, specifically designed for children to make their mark! Introduce a child to mark making with their very First Set or make it easier for those small hands with the Easi Grip Kit – or why not level up with the funky EYR Rock & Roll Pack. Whatever materials children use, it’s extremely important to encourage mark making for their transition into writing.

On your marks…write!

mark making resources

John Matthews (1999), The Art of Childhood and Adolescence: The Construction of Meaning. London: Falmer (p. 19) – Kelly, Early Years Careers – PACEY

Comments are closed here.