What is often simply dismissed as meaningless scribble scrabble or even making up words, are meaningful and fundamental components of literacy for young children. The fine motor and hand eye coordination skills required for writing are developed as they experiment with mark making. Young children are practicing pencil grip which progresses from larger muscle groups that translate to better precision, coloring in lines, drawing with detail, and improved letter formation. Mark making is young children’s way of communicating, expressing themselves, and experimenting with the new knowledge that marks have meaning (alphabet, numbers, words, books, etc.). Whether it is writing their name to identify their work or create a drawing that representing their thinking, scribbles are the foundation for the process that leads to writing as a form of communication.
In our classrooms, we provide students with a multitude of opportunities for developing their fine motor and prewriting skills. Sensory experiences to strengthen their fine motor skills and pencil grip. A multitude of mark making materials – chalk, markers, crayons, pencils, paintbrushes. And a wide variety of surfaces from chalkboards and whiteboards to paper and cardboard.
Prereading focuses on such things as our names and books. From cubbies to rest time bags, students see their, classmates’, and teachers’ names everywhere! It helps them with identification, recognizing the first letter, and differentiating between upper and lowercase. From name plates to magnetic letters to sensory experiences, our learning spaces are overflowing with investigated exposure to the alphabet. As we read books, we model for students how to care for books, turning pages, and reading left to right. We talk about parts of the books, authors, and illustrators. Also picture walks where students identify what they see happening without needing to know the words.
As the school year progresses, we revisit and reflect on these initial samples to offer students increasingly varied and extensive experiences to cultivate their writing and drawing ability. Drawings begin to be identified when they write their names and label what they create. Letter, notes, and cards are written.