8 ways to encourage mark making and prepare for writing in the early years!

Mummy made the most of having me at home, just me and her. She planned lots of activities that either exercise the prerequisite skills for writing, provide a mark-making opportunity or engaged my typical boy interests or lack of interest in mark-making.

We had a little adventure in the morning, running errands, every day jobs like the supermarket and the post office and then we came home for lunch. Mummy sat at the little table in the playroom with me and it was really nice, Mummy modelling table manners and good sitting at the table and sharing that quality time.

Then we did a number of activities;


We had a plastic fish bowl (£1 shop buy) and 3 small plastic cups stood in a paint tray for security. We had a pipette (ebay) and a paintbrush. We had water in the fish bowl, and then water with food colouring in the small plastic cups.

We had to use the pipette to transfer the coloured water into the fish bowl and experiment mixing colours and using fine motor skills to do this.

This helps to exercise the muscles in your hand needed for writing, but it also helps with other EYFS milestones such as experimenting with mixing colour, using one handed equipment and helping to develop those skills for learning such as maintaining focus on an activity and testing our own ideas.

It also interested me because it was water play, it was something I could access and it was quite sensory, watching the water change colour and the colours swirling in the bowl when I stirred it.

I then used the coloured water to paint with, again a mark-making opportunity which helps with developing those important skills for writing.

2) If you follow the blogs, you may have seen this picture before. It was the centre page of a Ben & Holly book that I used to spend ages looking at.

Because I was so interested in it, we framed it and stuck it on the playroom wall and used it to teach and encourage me to point, pointing at my favourite characters. It has been in the study for a while and we haven’t used it, but Mummy brought it down and gave me some felt tips. Again this encouraged me to mark make.


I love jigsaws. My play has moved on slightly and I’m not as interested as I used to be, but Mummy got this one, it’s black and white and great for encouraging colouring. Mummy gave me a range of tools from chalk, crayon, pencils and felt tips of all shapes and sizes and just let me explore.


We bought this Peppa activity book because it encourages first words and is all about our understanding of the world which is a huge part of early years learning. I like a Peppa pig so it engaged me straight away and when done together it gives great opportunity for interaction, feeding that language in and opportunity for following adult direction.

It also helps me with using my fine motor skills.

5) One of the ways we go wrong when encouraging children to write is expecting them to be confined to a chair and table and pen and paper. In the early years and with boys especially it is important to provide opportunities to engage children in Mark-making when they don’t see it as that.

At our school Austin has been role-playing the policeman and policing the children on the bikes outside. He has a little punch with writing tools and paper in and he writes out tickets for speeding. He loves it.

Giving us opportunities to use a range of tools sitting, standing, laying down to make marks and exercise those arm, hand and shoulder movements are so important.


Mummy bought these pre-writing boards for us to help us learn the pre-requisite patterns and strokes needed for letter formation.

They encourage the fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and sensory perception needed to write and have control over what you are writing.


Glass bottom sand trays! We love these!

Again, mummy purchased these for us and we have only just got them out.

Great for encouraging mark-making. Using a variety of tools. Developing fine motor skills and using those hand, arm and shoulder movements needed for writing.

I love sand too. A sensory experience.


You will have seen this before. It’s a firm favourite. The Melissa and Doug see and spell boards.

Great for letter recognition, language development and when done together interaction and phonic sounds.

There’s so many ways you can use this. It is one of my favourites.

So there you go. Our day at home. Lots of learning. Lots of fun.

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