Making A Mark

When a parent or caregiver provides a child with plain paper and washable markers, something magical happens. Washable markers are the easiest for small hands to use. By “making a mark” on paper, the very young child will “read” their drawing. The squiggle may represent “Mommy”, “ball” or “doggie”.

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Children may start “marking” with straight lines and then circular shapes and scribbles. Circles become the main part in their beginning narrative with eyes, mouth, stick arms and legs coming out of the actual head. If you ask the child to “tell me about your picture” they can recite a detailed account of their work. Their random doodles and scribbles become symbolic drawings and letters.

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It is important for a parent or teacher to record what the child says about their work (pictograph). Use a pencil and write in small print their dictation. Eventually children will write their own story with invented spelling. Children know more words than they can spell. They may write only one letter for an entire word. Invented spellers eventually discover phonics and more correct spelling in a natural way.

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When you encourage children to write at a very young age, they know they are writers and storytellers. This exposure to writing provides the foundation for emergent literacy.

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