Mark Making refers to any marks made, from lines or circles, to colouring, painting, drawing and finally writing. In order to be able to write, children will all need to go through stages of pre-writing skills. Some children are avoidant mark makers (research tells us that this is particularly true for boys), and so it is important to keep the process pressure-free and fun.
Top Tip: Always keep paper and crayons available so that the child does not need to come to you to practise, it is less of an 'event' if they can just have a go without a grown up watching over them.
I have explained the stages of mark making in progression order, below. All the bits that I use in the activities below are available to buy from my Amazon shop.
Face Painting - this is a lovely way to connect with your child, you are face to face, working together on a project and it's a fantastic opportunity to be silly together. It is a great example of no-pressure mark making, mistakes dont matter and using sponges removes anxieties about creating precise details.
Pre-writing Shapes - are made up of the component parts required in writing letters: zig zags, vertical and horizontal lines, shapes such as circles, triangles and squares. I used these shapes to create some firework patterns using chalk. Chalk provides sensory feed back to the user which means that their muscles send information back to the brain to monitor the consequence of an action. Using chalk on a vertical blackboard also strengthens the arm and shoulder muscles, all of which are important when it comes to handwriting.
Sneaky Letter Formation - my entire philosophy is about learning-through-play, or accidental learning as i recently heard it described. The picture above is just that: once your chid is able to recognise a few letters (start with letters from their name) make a letter search for them by using the letters, in this case a 't' to create a larger 't' shape. Fill in the spaces around the 't' to hide it and ask your child to circle (sneakily practising their letter 'o' formation!) all the letter 't's, making sure that they begin at the top of the page and systematically search line by line. At the end of the letter search ask them what they notice!
Deliberate Letter Formation - In this tray is cloud-dough, the same bath that I used on the Sensory page, I added some bio glitter and a small wand, creating a more magical and therefore enticing way to practice forming letters. You can do this in salt, or icing sugar, but use what you already have, and even better if it is out-of-date so as to not waste food; cloud-dough is particularly good however, as it holds shape due to the oil content.
The Icing on the Cake - Did you know that you can buy icing pens? When I found this out I immediately bought some and some fondant icing for my eldest to practice his spellings on. It beats writing on paper, that's for sure!
Beach Ball Catch and Chat - This activity is perfect for encouraging language and communication, reading skills as well as developing handwriting. Blow up a beach ball and use a dry- wipe pen to write a question on, throw the all to a partner who reads it, verbally responds and then writes a question themselves.
Spy Messages - This activity is great for when your child needs some fun injected into their homework, keep it for a time of special need! Encourage your child to use an invisible ink pen, and a UV torch! You wont be able to stop them writing now!