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Mark Making


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We opened our playgroup in January and our Registration Authority had a big part in what activities were available. They asked for both a junk art and a separate mark making area. To date our mark making area has never been used. We were asked to have a table that could seat 6 children comfortably beside a 8 container system rack containing junk art materials as well as a drawer system for paper. We have a separate table and chair beside this container system for the purpose of mark making. There is a container with pens and crayons beside this table as well as a small Vtech computer. We did put in a small magnetic board with letters and numbers in another container but apart from taking out the letters children never actually sit on the chair and take out a paper and attempt to do any drawing - they always go to the junk art, get the scissors, glue, bits of materials etc and create pictures.

 

Is there anything we could do to attract children to this area? My Deputy thinks it is a waste of space and we should remove the table and chair to use it for something else such as possible extension of our quiet corner which needs additional seating. Before that happens I want to explore every possible avenue to improve the use of this area.

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Why not separate the areas completely so you have a model making area with all the resources you describe and maybe develop a mark making area elsewhere?

 

In our setting, we have a creative/malleable/model making area and then have a mark making area set away towards the more quieter areas of the room. We also provide children with opportunities for mark making in all the other areas such as clipboards in the construction/role play areas.

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Do practitioners go in there and model any mark making activities? Having an adult in an area can be a powerful magnet for children, especially if they're not too sure what an area is for.

 

What kind of mark making activities do you offer that don't involve pens and paper? We find that children who aren't ready or confident enough to commit marks to paper get a lot out of making marks in shaving foam, sand, rice or whatever because they can just wipe out their marks if they're not happy and start again. A blank piece of paper can be very challenging for some children!

 

Do children make marks in other areas of your setting - such as in the role play area taking messages, or 'writing' their names on their painting etc? If so, maybe you could do an audit of the materials in your writing area to see if they are interesting to the children. Previously I have found that making writing paper with their favourite characters on prompted hesitant children to go in and write letters where they woudn't normally.

 

Have you seen the 'mark making matters' document? I'm sure there's a link on here somewhere...

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Guest terrydoo73

We have a 4 sided easel that doubles up as painting for 2 sides and then we have whiteboard markers for the other 2 sides - my Deputy thinks this is sufficient for mark making. There are cloths for the children to wipe out and start again as they like.

 

The mark making area as I said is right beside our quiet corner beside the books. How do we do an audit when they are not using it at present - I mean there is coloured and white pages of A4 paper and card available as well as pencils and loads of crayons as well as magnetic boards and letters to stick on them and the computer.

 

I tried to open the mark making document on the national standards site but it wouldn't open for me.

 

Might try the favourite writing paper as some children have shown an interest in Dora the Explorer - I do have stickers of Dora so maybe could use these at the top of the paper some way?

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Hi to give optimum opportunity to mark make we have it everywhere within our setting both indoors and out.

Sand, clay, foam, gloop, chalks, crayons, paints, paint pots with water in ideal for outside area, pencils, felt tips, rice, clipboards, pads, post its, envelopes, leaflets, forms.

We purchased some tidy caddies and put a selection of tools and paper and these can easily be transported anywhere within your provision.

Totally agree that some children do require it initially to be adult led and generally "away they go".

Try moving it away from any other areas and see how that goes. :o

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I also feel that having mark making opportunities in as many areas, and in many different ways, possible is the most likely way to get children involved:- in the construction area: graph paper and clip boards, in the home corner: 'shopping list'and note pads, in an 'office' type area: old diaries etc. An area of wall inside covered in paper for large scale mark making. Lots of different types/sizes of pencils/pens/crayons to appeal to different children. Same outside, maybe more on larger scale also.

Only area I don't like to have mark making is the book area...for obvious reasons :o

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when i went to visit Happy Maz recently she gave me a little box of stamps these have a been brilliant for mark making because they suggest letters without being perscriptive...perhaps get your parents to collect some for you or maybe you have a secret philatelist among your them! :o

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It sounds to me as if your children are simply too young/inexperienced for the type of mark making area you describe. I'd clear the whole area away for a couple of months and replace it with a series of mark making opportunities-one at a time and modelled by an adult-such as shaving foam, shallow sand tray and sticks etc. Introduce chalkboards and coloured chalks and water and large brushes outside. Then set up an office or cafe or post office roleplay area with paper and pens. Monitor how all this goes and see what inspires your children to mark make. A plastic lunchbox with crayons and paper inside which can be carried round by the children can also work well. Advisors quite often have had most of their experience with reception aged children who have rather different requirements for mark making from just turned 3 year olds.

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I would agree that mark making happens best within a context - shop, office, post office, whatever. If you have the same kind of easel we have, we find that this is best for painting. Whiteboards get used much more when they are flat on a table like a piece of paper would be.

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i do think a mark making table is an important part of the setting.. ours was in addition to any craft area and was in a different part of the setting.. our quiet area... but as others have said it was present in all areas anyway, in different disguises, pots of pens and paper available in many places, clipboards with a pen attached were always popular outside and used lots. it is one area i would never have even thought of removing, but found ways to make it more attractive..

 

 

Modelling the use helps, we used to sit and complete learning journey entry with help of the child who often then wanted to 'write' in the book with us... any writing we did we sat at the table to do, so they saw that writing and mark making were done everyday by us, be it checking register, or writing a note... this was commented on in one inspection we had as when she sat down to make some notes she was suddenly surrounded by children who wanted to help, and she went away with children's drawings all over her notes and paperwork.. comment was she knew we were promoting this in a way which worked well, and would have a lasting reminder of her visit on her paperwork..

 

 

we also found just by putting a table out with telephones, notepads, pencils, old diaries, were often used more than just left to completely self select from drawers.. we used to have the resources available but by putting the pencils, paper, notebooks on the table encouraged the use.

 

and by putting something like a pot of flowers or piece of fruit on the table to draw... ours had fun with a teddy sat in the middle, perhaps he could hold a note asking for help to send a letter, get some postcards for the children to write on and put in a post box...try to give a purpose to the reason for using the items..

Edited by Inge
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My Deputy thinks it is a waste of space

Honestly Terrydoo - I'm beginning to think that your deputy is a 'waste of space' xD - sorry that's very naughty of me I know....what qualification does she hold? Besides a diploma in 'How to Undermine the Setting Leader' :(:o

 

I wouldn't dream of not having a 'mark-making table'......at the moment mine has a bit of an office flavour to it - 'phones, calculators, hole punch, paper clips, diaries, note pads + paper of every type......

 

As others have said 'mark-making' is available right across my setting...including out of doors - where my children are currently enjoying 'map making' to support their games of 'Pirates', 'Elephant Hunters' amongst other great ideas (all their own too)

 

Hope that is of some help

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Guest terrydoo73

I have to defend my Deputy! I come from a childminding experience working with children for 8 years ages ranging from 9 months to about 5 years so no formal playgroup experience - I think as far as she and my Early Years Registration Authority are concerned I am totally unsuitable to be a Playgroup Leader and from the outset I know I personally have felt this myself. I am regretting taking on the position and would have preferred to start as a Playgroup Assistant ie the bottom rung. However the Committee who selected me must have thought I had something although I have yet to find that out!

 

My Deputy went back to school to do her NVQ Level 3 3 years ago doing experience within a very well run Playgroup which had been open for about 16 years. Everything was done very exact within the Playgroup but very much in the old style. Templates included!! My own daughter and her children did attend the Playgroup and it was exceptional in its approach to everything so is held up as a very good example!!

 

I would love to attend loads of courses to help me run the Playgroup but there are none available at present, not unless the Committee want to set up which would of course cost far too much money to even be considered at present!

 

After a day like Friday past where I felt it was such a bad idea to come into the Playgroup setting for work, not sleeping until 3 am on Saturday worrying about everything and nothing and then last night again not sleeping as I was dreading going into work ...

 

Am I really in the right job? I know it has only been 4 months and there will be loads of teething problems but I am really desperatly considering at the moment whether to sign my Letter of Contract for Employment when it eventually does come!

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If training is a problem due to cost, why not visit other local pre school / nurseries to see how they operate and set out their learning environment, our Pre School has just agreed to join a small local group of nurseries who organise practitioner swaps which are designed to share good practice.

 

We set up our Pre School up in September and it has taken us to decide the layout of our setting. We try to have mark making activities in all our areas, we use clipboards, little pads etc. However we also have a writing table with lots of material and is generally busiest when the table has an adult supporting the children.

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Honestly Terrydoo - I'm beginning to think that your deputy is a 'waste of space' xD - sorry that's very naughty of me I know....what qualification does she hold? Besides a diploma in 'How to Undermine the Setting Leader' :(:o

 

I apologise if this has caused offence Terrydoo.......it was meant as a light hearted comment........you have in several threads complained about your deputy........I will keep my wisecracks to myself in future.

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Guest lou73

What about water and paint brushes outside and also chalk? But i agree with the previous post get an adult in there. What about some pictures to colour of characters they like from cbeebies. I think post it notes are also a great way to pull children in as they love the sticky bit although be prepared to be picking them of everything. Another trick i have used is is hit the pound shops and buy really funky pens ones with fluffy bits, musical pens, ones which smell or use stampers anything that is FUN.......what about making bundles of crayons held together with tape.

 

Hope that helps :)

 

lou

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Guest terrydoo73

Would love to be able to visit other playgroups but our problem is timing. Most playgroups are open at the same time as ours ie mornings. There are only 2 of us employed with a volunteer committee member every day. To visit other playgroups would mean we have to close the playgroup for a day which is not what we want to do at this point in time with only just opening in January. We did visit a couple of other playgroups but were not able to see them in action for confidentiality purposes. We asked loads of questions off the leaders but again they were not very forthcoming in terms of small details. I guess at present we are just uptight about everything and want to do things correctly in the best way possible. If we could just relax a bit more it might help I guess!

 

No offence meant or taken Sunnyday - perhaps I give the wrong impression sometimes, its just that my Deputy keeps throwing things back at me "because I am the Leader"! (her words not mine) I just feel lost sometimes and overwhelmed!

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Time for you to stop wanting to do things as correctly as possible.... this is an impossible task in itself.... having worked for over 20 yrs in this kind of setting I can honestly say there is no correct way to do it, just the one you find is right for you and the children at the time... ours often changed yearly because of the child dynamics and the staff and lots of outside influences. relax and enjoy the children, let the children enjoy what you offer... and see them progress while with you..

 

Deputy is doing just as she should... ask questions, offer suggestions and have input into the setting.. she may not have the most tactful way of doing it.. and you may feel overwhelmed, but it is better than her wading in and doing things you really do not approve of or are not happy with , and not consulting you about it... had one who did this to me and it was infuriating, had to be really much more assertive with her than one who came to me.. Say you will take her suggestions on board, and give considerations to them, but that if you decide not to go with it she has to understand you have your reasons for it which may or may not be discussed, you do not always have to give detailed reasons for your decisions, as she seems to point out you are the leader and she has to respect your decisions, even if she does not agree.

 

Visiting other groups...perhaps ask early years advisor for one which operates afternoons as well and could recommend for a visit... we were used by the advisor's in our area just for this purpose.. I lost count of the number of visitors we had from other groups who came to see how we worked and took away ideas to use in their setting.. seems a real shame that they cannot share good practice .

 

Must admit another way we went to see other groups was to pose as a mum or in my case a Gran and ask to visit to see if they are suitable for our child to attend.. we had a committee member do this a few times and a staff member has done this as well - they are really open to give all the information you want if a potential future parent and never question any confidentiality issues which always seemed double standards to me as they had no clue as to who I was as a parent, but they let us in, we could see it in action ans ask all we wanted and they were very open to us! Later, If we met at a meeting it was a case of I had chosen somewhere else to send the child and we were not allowed our own child in the setting we worked in... never happened though.

 

Back to Deputy- any things she comes up with like the mark making removal.. perhaps ask for suggestions on how it can be improved so it will be used, not remove as it isn't.. go on the positive tack and ask for her input and suggestions... take them away and come back with your ideas as well and make the changes so that it will be used rather than never used.. it is am important area of the setting and should be there.

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Guest terrydoo73

Have taken on board all your comments - thanks. Have done a bit of adjusting this past few days and am now ready to add to this area as I think it will work.

 

Yesterday I cleared everything bar a couple of blank pages and 2 yoghurt pots, one with crayons and the other with just pencils. I then took some stickers of Dora and put these at the top of the page. Both today and yesterday I saw children sitting at the table either scribbling with the crayons or putting more stickers onto a page. Yes I did get a child come over to me today asking for paper but when I showed her where it was she happily chose a page and went back to sticking stickers. My deputy was not happy in the number of stickers being used but I felt no this shows an interest and let us develop it. My deputy was concerned that the child was dependent on her to pull the stickers off the sheet rather than learning how to do it herself so when she returned to the area today I ensured there were larger stickers and easier peeling for her - it worked as she happily stayed in this area peeling and sticking. I got a really good photograph observation and written observation from this one child.

 

Tonight I have gathered up some funky pens and coloured pencils, rubbers, sharpener, calculator, note pads and pages both big and small as well as a clipboard. I will add some sellotape - it just needs some method of presenting it so that children can easily access everything at once. I find that when we leave too much on the table there is not enough room and the children push it all onto the floor. I am thinking of a postal zip bag system that could hang down the side of the table so the children can still access it but it is not annoying them!

 

We had an Early Years Advisor with us today who suggested we reposition the table a little so that the child is facing out into the room and still sees other children playing and does not feel left out. Have move the area down more towards the junk art and am thinking of setting up the kinder box we have for library books etc up on its end to see if this helps more for the children to access paper and other bits like puppets as well as giving us room to store and put in another seating bench. I can only try and see how it works for a day or two!

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we have a craft area which holds all soet of mark making s well as creative bits and bobs and it is avery popular area for children across the ages (2 1/2 to 4 1/2)

but we also have children who would not access this if it was the only thing out to play with because it just does not float their boat so we put out 4 or 5 A5 clip boards around the setting with a pen, these are placed on the train mat in the role play area by the musical instrument on the computer table. We have clipboards, chalks, painting brushes with water outside

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Hi Terrydoo73, just wanted to send you a hug.

 

I think you need an Easter Break. Time away to evaluate and relax. No setting is perfect and no setting no matter how it looks on the outside runs smoothly all the time. It's lovely that you want what's best for your children and that you want to please everyone around you however I think you need some perspective. I think you need to make a list of all your strengths and all the great things you bring to the role and you'll feel better.

 

Also there is a phrase my dad used to use with me as a child "I hear what you say, I appreciate your opinion and I'll take it on board." Then it is entirely up to you as Leader as to how much influence their opinion should have and gives you time to reflect on how quickly to make any changes.

 

It's hard being part of a team and being team leader especially in a small team. I'd have a think as to what your vision for your setting is and what you want it to look like. If you can get that clear it'll become much easier on working with your environment. My Chair recently reminded me that the environment is your children's 3rd teacher (think she was referring to my mess, mind!)

 

Really pleased your mark making area changes have worked.

x

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have recently been on a mark making course and was reminded of the development for mark making which occurs away from the writing table and so would like to share the importance of the physical development essential for mark making and later writing skills...

children need gross motor control - practise movements using the whole arm and shoulder eg. by climbing, balancing, marching, dancing

children need manipulative skills as bones in their hands are soft and not fully developed - messy play, playing with playdough, scissors etc

children need 2 handed experience to develop hand preference - washing up, doing up buttons, etc

children need fine motor and hand-eye co-ordination - jigsaws, cutting, threading

 

We were also given the opportunity to think about ...

things to mark make on eg. table cloths, mirrors, masking tape

things to mark make with, eg. twigs, pipe cleaners, balls

things to mark make in, eg. custard, hair mousse, mint sause

 

We also discussed the importance of the development of language and opportunities to talk as a factor for mark making. Children need to feel confortable and confident to talk about the marks they make and what they mean to them, this is where mark making in role play, small world play etc can be useful.

 

I hope I haven't digressed too far from the original thread but it was a course I really enjoyed and thought it might be of some help?

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