This new book, by Sue Cowley, is a very timely addition to my library. As a Governor of a Primary school, this will provide a huge boost to discussion on mark making with our EYFS children. The book provides a clear structure, with eight chapters starting with the idea of mark making as a form of communication through to letters, words and sentences. In between, the chapters develop different aspects of the mark making process, supported by a wealth of ideas on resourcing and organisation.
Sue makes the very important link between developing dexterity through handling objects, real life objects that demonstrate mass and volume, requiring different handling techniques. The development of finer motor skills is supported by simple activities like tearing paper.
Idea; this could be newspaper, which can then be used for papier mache, or tissue paper, to be incorporated into a collage; sea or sky from torn blue strips. Torn newsprint can be printed to make rocks, the whole incorporated into a wall display. Providing an additional purpose encourages involvement.
Using a variety of objects to make marks, Sue encourages mark making on different surfaces, but then adapting to use natural materials, such as feathers or sticks to manipulate paint. Zips, buttons, laces, threading, all add to developing dexterity.
There are very useful ideas boxes throughout the book that focus on different aspects.
Gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination can be supported by throwing and catching balls or bean bags with a partner, passing balls between legs or over the head to a partner, or in a row. I’d add keeping a balloon in the air, using light muslin hankies to throw into the air and catch.
Idea; maybe playing a game that our French exchange partners called “tomate”; standing in a circle with legs apart, the object is to stop a ball passing through your legs. Both hands can be used. If the ball passes through, one hand goes behind the back, then two hands, then out…
Different materials are used to provide varied sensory stimulus, wet and dry sand, clay and plasticine or playdough, clear water to move or soapy water to explore the difference. Gardening and getting hands mucky to a purpose.
The book then goes on to develop more formal mark making, using different markers to explore the underlying shapes that eventually will form the basis of letter formation; verticals, horizontals, diagonals, circles, pushing, pulling, pressing. Working anticlockwise accentuates letter formation.
Idea; how about “magic colour shapes”, overwriting an initial shape in a variety of colours? This can be developed as “magic colour letters”, as names or specific words.
Idea; lines in tree rings. Draw a shape that represents the first year of growth of a tree. Repeat with a second line, trying to follow the first. Continue for perhaps ten years of rings. These shapes could be drawn from real life by cutting an onion in half, or maybe a cabbage as a real challenge?
The important message from Sue’s book is to make children confident in having a go; trial and improvement are the basis of all learning.
The book will provide a firm structure for a school to audit its culture, or for any trainee working with EYFS, probably year one, any activity ideas firmly embedded in process. It will definitely be shared with the school where I am a Governor and add to our articulation of expectations.