Early Years Mark Making with Chalk and Markers

Most children enjoy sitting down and drawing. And drawing is one of the areas of artistic experience that should be made available to young children as their scribbles are the precursor to writing, drawing recognisable symbols and pictures. Or put another way ‘Scribbling is to drawing as babbling is to talking.’ (William Stein)

For toddler group today I wasn’t sure if we’d be inside or out so I took along a variety of drawing materials which I could adapt to suit the circumstances. It turned out that there was a risk of rain so the ladies set up in the hall.

We used:

Egg Chalks
Chunki Chalks
Cray Pas oil pastels
Pencil crayons
Chubbi Markers
Sugar paper

We also struck lucky as someone had donated a whole box of perforated printer paper which is perfect for taping down to the floor or table so lots of children can work on a large picture together.

The Drawing Process
It was really interesting to see how different children approached the different materials.

The first girl to come over set to with the chalks onto sugar paper. She made a series of up and down marks trying out all the different colours then put two horizontal lines above. Later she drew another picture which had two horizontal lines at the bottom of the paper and dots above.

We also spent some time drawing long lines on the printer paper with the Chubbi Markers. She then got really experimental by dabbing her finger onto the markers and making fingerprints. Fantastic! Mum wasn’t impressed though – whoops!

Another girl loved the egg chalks so much that she spent half an hour covering the whole page in different colours.

The children all loved the way the Chubbi Markers splattered when they were thumped down on the paper. One girl also tried folding up her paper to make a print of her marks like we did in mono printing but it didn’t work. It’s nice to see though that the children are applying previously learned techniques to a new situation.

Several children sat for a good 30 minutes trying out all the different drawing materials and colours. One discovered that light colours don’t show up very well on light coloured paper. And another girl made marks for her name – a start to writing!


This is a really easy activity – especially on the mess front where there is no washing up to do. But that doesn’t take away its importance for a child’s development.

All you need to have is a selection of drawing materials, a selection of different papers and a willingness to let the children get on with it. They need little instruction – though you may want to prompt them to stroke the paper with the materials to make marks rather than slamming the materials down. Alternatively you can encourage them to go round and round, up and down or draw lines across the page.

For more mark making activities check out my previous blogs:

Large Mark Making
Drawing with Chalk
The Big Draw
Tried and Tested: Exploring Lines

And, of course, you can download or order our ‘It’s No Picasso’ leaflet which details how drawing develops in young children.

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