Every day, I watch a miracle. My daughter picks up a crayon, places it on a page, and makes a mark. Already, at still not quite two years old, she’s starting to write.
I know it doesn’t seem like writing, but it’s the start of a long road. Those crayon scratches will become swirls. The swirls become loops. The loops become letters. The letters can make sounds and form words. And all of a sudden, not even a year or two years away, there will be writing on a page. Her own name and other words.
It all starts now, by making her mark on a page. Holding the crayon – or pencil, or pen, or whatever – and putting colour on a surface.
Right now, she can’t draw “things”. She can’t draw a car, if I ask her. She can’t really colour anything in, more than whizzing the pencil in jagged lines. But that will happen. She’ll be able to join dots, and colour in between the lines – or maybe over the lines, if she wants, and that’s OK of course. (I was always one for not being able to colour between the lines.)
But it doesn’t have to be traditional pens and paper, of course. Here are some great ideas to get your kids making marks, at home or on playdates, from when they’re tiny.
Spray some shaving foam on a table and let your child rub it around with their fingers and hands. You might need to show them how to do it at first, but they’ll get the hang of it soon enough!
A tray of sand
A tray of fine sand – dry or wet – is great for making marks. Your little one will love making marks with other objects, maybe sticks or straws, dragging them through the sand and seeing the trail that it leaves.
A magnetic drawing board
Magnetic drawing boards can be a great mess-free way of making marks. Children might occasionally get frustrated by only being able to use the pen supplied, but they will love being able to scribble freely. You can just wipe it away straight away and start again. No tidying required!
Water on the patio
A bottle of water, squirted down on a patio or path, can make some amazing marks. (Be prepared to get very, very, very wet though.) Use the kind of plastic bottle you’d get for energy drinks or Fruit Shoots (don’t forget to get rid of the caps if they don’t have holes in).
You know this is going to get messy, but it’s still great fun. If you don’t have an easel, don’t panic! A norml sheet of paper or card on some newspaper will work fine. You can make a pretty flower birthday card by putting a handprint onto the centre of a blank card (you can buy blanks from craft stores) then drawing a stem underneath.