Making meaningful marks: getting ready to write

Messy play for Daisy regularly involves paint and different papers.  She has paint brushes and sponges and sometimes she just enjoys the paint itself, tracing her fingers through the paint.  Sometimes I see her ‘play’ with her food in the same way, running her fingers through the sauce.  Daisy’s hard at work ‘mark making’, using her senses and the physical sensations to investigate.

Mark making develops in different situations and with different equipment. It gradually develops into meaningful mark making that eventually becomes writing.

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From toddler through to preschool age we can give our grandchildren different opportunities to develop their skills and it doesn’t always require stationery equipment.

Some ideas –

Squeezy water bottles, droppers, pipettes, paintbrushes and a container of water for outside mark making present opportunities to develop muscles for gripping and controlling.

Mud with sticks; spray foam, foam soap, spray cream with wide-toothed combs, straws and small brushes all give mark making opportunities that help to develop manipulation skills, strengthening wrists.

Toy vehicles, a large home-made stamp pad and a left over piece of wallpaper to make wheel tracks marks will develop co-ordination skills.

Chunky chalks  – we gave Daisy a set of chunky chalks which she enjoys using on the patio and on pavements where we chalk together, making and copying patterns.

Pens and crayons – if you want a quieter play time with your grandchildren, they will enjoy scribbling on scrap paper with chunky felt tip pens (make sure they contain washable inks).

Our grandchildren’s pretend play is based on what they see around them and this applies to writing too.  I know that it is often easier to use our smart phones for writing but children also need to see us actually doing some writing and using a variety of pencils and pens – write a shopping list on a piece of paper and take it to the shop together, write your message in a greetings card and invite them to add their ‘signature’.

Meaningful mark making by your grandchild is their way of expressing themselves and we should show that we value their work by putting it up where they can see it on display.

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Granny Smith says

Word of warning – if your grandchild has recently enjoyed participating on a vertical colouring wall and also enjoyed using chunky chalks on the garden wall they have become aware that vertical art work is possible.  And they will be tempted to do more mark making by that clear area of emulsioned wall, particularly if crayons are accessible.

If you decide to leave crayons and felt tips out, be sure to leave out some paper for them to colour on and if your grandchild is interested in creating large pieces of art work, I recommend buying a roll of lining paper which can be spread out and cut to the desired length.

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