Jun 6, 2023

Unlock the joys of early mark-making

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
Unlock the joys of early mark-making

If you're a parent, you may have encountered the term "mark-making" before. But what exactly is it, and why is it so crucial for young children?

Mark-making involves children using their hands or various tools - such as pencils, crayons, paintbrushes, and markers - to create lines, shapes, and patterns in different textures and materials, e.g., wet sand, paper, foam, soil etc.

These activities are crucial to your little one's early development, as they promote physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth in several ways. As such, it is an essential aspect of your child's education that you should encourage and support.

Child drawing art

Personal, Social, and Emotional development

Encouraging children to make their own marks is an excellent way to express themselves and explore their creativity. By experimenting with colours, shapes, and lines, kids can develop their imagination and create a visual language that is unique to them. Allowing them the freedom to experiment and play helps foster creativity and curiosity, giving them confidence and strengthening their sense of self.

As they grow, their mark-making becomes more deliberate and purposeful. They start to use it as a tool for communication, both with themselves and others. This is especially true for children who may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Their drawings and scribbles can meaningfully convey their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. 

Mark-making can be a therapeutic and calming activity for young children. It allows young children to express their emotions, enhance self-awareness and develop self-regulation. Children often face many challenges, and expressing themselves through mark-making will enable them to work through complex emotions.

In addition, mark making can also aid in the social development of young children. When children engage in mark-making activities with their peers, they can communicate their thoughts and feelings, collaborate, and problem-solve. They can learn to respect one another's space, take turns, and share materials. Children can build their social skills, confidence, and self-esteem through these interactions.


Physical Development

Mark making, drawing, painting or creating patterns using fingers or tools such as crayons, sticks, chalk etc., has many benefits on young children's physical development.

Drawing and painting require young children to focus on the details of what they are creating and coordinate their hands with their eyes to accurately represent their ideas, enhancing hand-eye coordination. 

It also promotes fine motor development by allowing young children to practice and improve their fine motor skills by exploring movement with their hands and fingers and controlling their pencils or brushes to create different lines, shapes and patterns, strengthening the small muscles in their hands, wrists and fingers.

In addition, when children engage in large-scale mark-making activities, such as painting on an easel or using chalk to draw on the pavement or a chalkboard, they explore making big movements to create large marks and shapes involving their shoulder and arm muscles. As they bend, kneel, or stand straight, they work their core muscle groups to improve their gross motor skills.


Communication and Language development

Mark-making plays an essential role in young children's communication and language development. It helps them express their thoughts and emotions while building critical skills to serve them throughout their lives. 

Mark-making can help to build vocabulary in young children. When children make marks, they often describe their actions and thinking. For example, they might use words to explain the colours they are using or tell a story about the picture they are creating.

Using words to describe their artwork, they build their vocabulary and practice communication skills. In addition, as parents and caregivers comment on the marks and drawings their little one is making, they introduce new words and phrases into their vocabulary.

Early literacy skills

Mark-making is a pre-literacy activity that sets the foundation for writing and reading but also encourages a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

By promoting fine motor skills, visual-spatial awareness, creativity, and imagination, mark-making lays a strong foundation for reading, writing, and language development; children develop essential writing skills by holding a pencil or crayon and making marks on paper. For example, they learn to distinguish between shapes and lines and develop an understanding of alphabetical letters and numbers.

Chalk colours

Types of mark-making

Babies and toddlers learn through their senses, physical movements, and cognitive processes when they engage in early mark-making. This helps them understand how their actions result in marks. Early mark-making can extend beyond writing tools like pencils, markers, paint and paint brushes on paper. 

Here are some fun and creative ways that young children can make marks:

Finger painting: Children explore with their fingers and make different marks on paper using various colours.


Drawing with chalk: Chalk is a great way for young children to create big, bold lines and experiment with colours; they can do this on the pavement or an easel.


Printing: Children can use a variety of objects that they can use for printing. Examples include fruit, vegetables and toys.


Brush painting: Using paintbrushes, children can explore and experiment with various strokes and lines. It is an excellent mark-making activity for them.

Stamping: Using sponges, stamps, or cotton wool to create designs can be an exciting activity for children, resulting in bold and unique patterns.


Rubbings: A great way to create textured and patterned designs is by exploring surfaces such as walls, leaves, tree barks, and coins through rubbing.

Marble Rolling Painting: Children can play with marbles and paint on paper. Shaking and moving the tray around, the marbles will create unique patterns and designs in the paint. This is also an excellent way for children to learn about mixing colours.

Damp Sand: Children love playing with sand; wet sand is great for mark making; children can use their fingers to make drawings or marks in the sand, and older children can practise writing letters and numbers and drawing shapes.

Dot Painting with cotton buds: Cotton Buds are a great mark-making tool; children can make lovely aboriginal dotted paintings using this mark-making technique. They must dip the bud in some paint and stamp it on paper, rocks, etc., creating dotted designs.


String Painting: To create stringy and linear patterns, children can dip a string in paint and stamp it on paper.


Spray Bottle Art: Adding paint and water to a spray bottle is another way to create fun and exciting marks! As children squeeze the bottle, paint is squirted onto the paper creating splatting effects.

There are so many mark-making techniques to explore - the possibilities are endless! Mark-making is versatile and can be done at any location and time. Even children can use their fingers to create marks on a foggy window...


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