Mark making is recognised as a precursor to writing.

Research shows that boys can often be reluctant writers. A document issued back in 2008 The National Strategies, Early Years “Mark making matters” says “In an emotionally secure environment, where their creativity is valued and respected, children will often become prolific mark makers. This is particularly true when the purpose and the means of representation are within their control. Boys’ mark making tends to flourish when the pressure is off, the choice is theirs and the motivation arises from a specific desire to communicate”

My role as their childminder and the the importance of providing positive support  is explained further in the document “As well as providing rich opportunities for young children’s mark making, practitioners will also need to consider carefully their attitudes and responses. Genuine interest and encouragement are prerequisites, alongside some opportunities for the teaching of new skills, but over-zealous questioning and attempts by adults to alter or correct the marks that children make can be intrusive and nearly always counter-productive. Stencils and adult-drawn outlines should not be used, as they provide little in the way of new learning and unintentionally give children a hidden message that the adult version is superior to theirs.

Children, particularly boys, seem to gravitate naturally towards whiteboards and blackboards, where they can experiment freely, take risks with their mark making and test their own limits, safe in the knowledge that this medium is not permanent, so changes can be made when they think they are needed and ‘mistakes’ can be rectified as necessary”.

Here are just some of the things we do here at Aston Childcare to encourage mark making:

  • Water painting
  • Finger painting
  • Dot to dot
  • Making marks in sand
  • Making marks in gloop
  • Making marks in shaving foam
  • Making marks in oats and rice
  • Large scale painting
  • Drawing
  • We use crayons, chalks, felt tips, colouring pencils, glitter pens
  • We make marks on wood and material as well as paper
  • Use small portable clipboards and small pencils
  • Use portable A4 clipboards outdoors
  • Use a range of writing materials eg Sticky notes, notebooks etc
  • Use blackboard and whiteboard easels both inside and outside


And to Develop the muscles needed for writing we:

  • Use giant tweezers to transfer small objects (To encourage and support pincer grip development)
  • Pop bubble wrap (yes, really!) between their thumb and index fingers
  • Playdough (which helps develop finger and hand strength and control. When they are playing with these materials, children are squeezing and kneading, poking and pinching, rolling and pressing – all excellent strength building movements.)
  • Using scissors (develops and strengthens the hand muscle)
  • Play with construction toys and blocks (develops and strengthens the hand muscle)
  • Turning pages of books (To encourage and support pincer grip development)
  • Using lacing boards (To encourage and support pincer grip development)
  • Using letter and number magnets (to strengthen the upper body while standing)
  • Use vertical spaces for drawing (strengthens upper body)



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