mark making

When looking at the Reggio approach and thinking about exploration, this painting and mark making activity is brilliant. It links well with early writing, physical development and communication & language development.

For mark making activity you will need

• Paint brushes (as many different kinds as you have)
• Sponges
• Other brushes (nail brush, hair brush, comb, etc)
• Paints
• White paper

reggio mark making

Making marks

Allow the children to make marks freely, testing out each brush and the different marks created by them. What’s great about this activity is that there are so many different ways a child will engage, some will take no interest in the marks but will be developing their fine motor skills whereas others will offer up theories and test them out. It is important that there is an emphasis on process rather than product and I would suggest avoiding questions that ask the children what they are painting unless the child offers up this information freely.


Adults role

During this activity try comments rather than questions, instead of saying, ‘What does that look like?’, say, ‘Ooooh that looks swirly/spikey’. Children respond better to comments, especially those that are shy or quiet, as they bring no pressure to respond.

Try to use lots of different vocabulary, you may want to gather a list of words which you can use to describe the children’s marks. Finding alternatives such as large and tiny rather than big and small will widen the children’s vocabulary which will develop their communication and language, an essential element of learning to read and write.

Early years mark making

Early learning goals

ELG03 – Speaking – They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
ELG04 – Moving and handling – Children show good control and co‑ordination in large and small movements. They handle equipment and tools effectively.
ELG16 – Exploring and using media and materials – They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
ELG17 – Being imaginative – Children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes.

Read more posts on our Reggio approach series


This post was written by Laura England of Little Miss Early Years

Laura England thumbnail Laura is the lead practitioner at Blythe Bridge Day Nursery, she is currently a trainee early years’ teacher and has a monthly column in  Teach Early Years Magazine. She is interested in everything early years but is passionate about teaching through the children’s interests,  setting up enabling environments and the adults role during play.

Laura writes her own blog over at, you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.


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