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EYFS Mark Making Ideas & Activities that Help Children

EYFS Mark Making Ideas & Activities that Help Children

EYFS Mark Making Ideas & Activities that Benefit Children

The Purpose of EYFS Mark Making Activities for Children

I have put together a comprehensive list of EYFS Mark Making Ideas & Activities that will benefit children.

Young children need to learn to enjoy writing and to understand its purpose. Mark making will help them to be more willing to join in as they face the challenging task of learning to write.

The activities I have included in this list are multisensory and support the development of the motor skills necessary for writing.  There are lots of fun and exciting options which offer something for every child to enjoy!

If you would like to know more about the importance of mark making, including the supporting research, please see my post on Mark Making for Child Development.

A long list of Mark Making Activities 

This is a very long list of different types of EYFS mark making activities for children.  I’ve sorted them into different categories.  Some activities may fit into more than one category.

  • Prints & Rubbings
  • Alternatives to Pens and Paint Brushes (different types of utensils)
  • Edible Materials
  • Non-Edible Materials
  • Dried Materials
  • ‘Invisible’
  • Impression
  • Transient / Loose Parts
  • Upright / Vertical
  • Floor Activities
  • Water Based
  • Alternative Surfaces to Paper

Prints and Rubbings

The following are different forms of printmaking that can be used for making marks and drawings to represent ideas.  As these are primarily prints, so the marks are made by dipping an object into paint or ink and then pressing it onto paper.

  • Classic stamps or stamp pens (This can be done in playdough as well as paper).
  • Stencils
  • Potato prints
  • Fruit prints (fruit like apple or lemon cut in half and dipped in paint)
  • Flower prints
  • Leaf prints
  • Utensil prints (mashed potato press, whisks- place them in paint and print or paint with them)
  • Sponge prints (sponges can be used to print or paint)
  • Car/truck tracks (rolling car tracks through paint or on playdough)
  • Wooden spools (rolled in paint)
  • Toy animal footprints (Children can dip toy animal feet in paint and print them on paper or press animal feet into playdough to make footprints.)
  • Bubble wrap prints
  • Footprints or handprints or fingerprints (Children can use their fingers, hands or feet to paint and print with paint.)
  • Rubbings- e.g. bark rubbing, leaf rubbing (Children can place it under the paper and rub the long side of a crayon over it.)
  • Styrofoam prints (Draw a pattern or picture into the foam with a stick or pencil to make an impression i.e. a ‘stamp’, cover it with paint and then press it on paper.)
  • Finger paint print (Children can finger paint a picture on a tray, then place a piece of paper on top and gently rub it so that it picks up some of the paint onto the paper.)
  • Symmetry print (Children can splatter paint on half of a piece of paper, then fold in half, rub it, so the paint goes on both sides, and then open it up again to make a symmetrical picture e.g. butterfly.)

Alternatives to Basic Brushes and Pens

The following can be used as alternatives to standard paint brushes, pens, and pencils, to make drawing and mark making more exciting. 

  • Grass, leaf, flower or plant ‘paintbrushes’
  • Sponge brush
  • Spreaders or spatulas
  • Sticks and twigs
  • Feathers
  • Bells attached to brushes
  • Dishwashing or scrub brushes
  • Toothbrushes
  • String (it can be dipped in paint and dragged around)
  • Big dot pens / bingo dabbers
  • Spray bottles
  • Finger painting
  • Squeegee (to spread paint)
  • Pom poms on pegs
  • Rubber band splat – (Using a baking tin, place a piece of paper to cover the bottom, wrap rubber bands around the tin, place paint on them, then pull the rubber bands & let go to cause them to splat on the paper).
  • Children can paint on oobleck (corn starch & water) for an interesting and transient surface.
  • Squirt bottle painting (paint can be placed in squirt bottles or spray bottles to spray & squirt out paint)
  • Jumbo chalk (sidewalk chalk)
  • Double pens or double paintbrushes (Held together with rubber bands)
  • Pens on wheels (Pens can be attached to the back of a toy car using a rubber band, so the car will make marks behind it as children play with it.)
  • Glue spreaders
  • Splatter/drip painting (dripping and splatting paint like Jackson Pollock)

Edible Mark Making/ Finger Mark Making

These materials can all be used to mark make on a tray or tuff spot as an alternative to paint.  They are transient (not permanent) so are great for children who get worried about making mistakes. They also are good for sensory play.  For more details on these activities, please click here.

  • Chocolate sauce / Hershey sauce mark making
  • Ketchup mark making activity
  • Gloopy mark making activity- cornflower & oil
  • Ready Brek ‘paint’ / cream of wheat (food colouring optional)
  • Boba (Tapioca Pearl) and corn starch (food colouring optional)
  • Yoghurt (food colouring optional)

Non-Edible Finger Mark Making

These materials (alternatives to paint) can all be used to mark make on a tray or tuff spot.  These are also transient ways for children to experiment and try to make marks.

  • Glue or glitter glue on tray or tuff spot
  • Mud or dirt on a tuff spot
  • Mud paint (dirt, water, food colouring)
  • Shaving foam on tuff spot or windows (alternative options- frozen shaving foam, with glitter, with essential oils, with sequins, etc.)
  • Pop rocks/popping candy paint (Just add pop rocks to paint to make popping paint)

Dried Materials for Making Marks

These materials can all be used to mark make on a tray or tuff spot.  These are also transient ways for children to make marks.  They provide a different type of sensory experience than the previous categories and might be more appealing to children who don’t like sticky sensations or may be resistant to getting their hands dirty.

  • Salt, including colourful and smelly
  • Oats
  • Rice, including colourful
  • Lentils
  • Dirt
  • Glitter
  • Sand (glitter optional)
  • Drawing in the dirt with sticks

Invisible Writing and Mark Making

  • Write with the ‘juice’ of a dandelion stem on paper (It will slowly turn the paper brown.)
  • Lemon juice writing – write with lemon juice on paper, then let it dry.  It can then be held up to the heat of a lightbulb to turn it brown, or painted over with turmeric dissolved in rubbing alcohol (see my Turmeric pH Indicator Experiment post).
  • Draw on paper with white crayon or wax and then paint over it with water colours to reveal the drawing.

Impression Mark Making Activities

These activities can be done in playdough, clay, salt-dough, etc. to make marks and drawings. Marks are made by pressing or carving into the dough or clay.

  • Drawing in the dough with pencils/sticks/pottery sticks
  • Pressing objects in playdough, salt dough or clay– ex.  bottle tops, stamps, toys (e.g. bugs/minibeasts, car wheels) natural objects (e.g. shells, pine cones), Numicon.
  • Carving or scratching into pumpkins
  • Carving/ scratching into wax
  • Carving/scratching into wood

Transient / Mark Making with Loose Parts

These objects can be moved around and used to create pictures or representations.

  • Beads & necklaces
  • Flat glass beads
  • Sticks
  • Pieces of paper/shapes
  • Pebbles
  • Natural objects- Flowers, conkers, acorns, pinecones, etc.
  • Playdough or clay
  • Magnetic letters, numbers, or other objects

Upright / Vertical Activities

These EYFS mark making activities are particularly good for getting children to make large movements and marks while they are standing up.

  • Shaving foam painting on windows or mirror (with paintbrushes or fingers)
  • Window “washing” with brushes & bubbles & food colouring
  • Painting on an easel
  • Painting on large poster paper on a wall
  • Painting or drawing on a wall, fence, tree trunk, or upright tuff spot
  • Painting with a spray bottle, squeeze bottle, pipette, or syringe to spray paint onto windows, walls, etc.
  • Writing with chalk on a chalkboard or chalkboard painted wall

Floor Mark Making Activities

These mark making activities can be another excellent opportunity for children to do large movements and drawings.

  • Rangoli Designs (using sand, flowers, rice, etc.)
  • Large sheets of paper on the floor to colour on with pens or paints
  • Sidewalk chalk & water painting (see water-based activities below)
  • Drip & splatter painting
  • Writing in sand, shaving cream or other substances

Water Based Activities

These activities primarily rely on water to make marks and images. They disappear fairly quickly, so children worried about making mistakes tend to find this reassuring.


Mark Making on different surfaces

These are a range of different surfaces on which children can practice mark making. They can be painted and/or drawn upon (depending on the surface).

  • Boxes
  • Pumpkins
  • Leaves
  • Sticks
  • Pinecones
  • Tree trunk painting
  • Rainbow scratch paper
  • Sun print paper
  • Mark making in mud or with mud
  • Snow (painting on snow or sculpting in snow)
  • Floor – with chalk, on large pieces of paper, on a tuff spot
  • Windows or Mirrors (using paint or window crayons)
  • Note pads, notebooks, diaries (other ‘adult’ everyday writing objects)
  • Cards
  • Zig Zag books
  • Mini books
  • Envelopes
  • Overhead projector screen
  • Lightbox (can be drawn on with whiteboard pens, or use objects, particularly translucent ones)
  • Cloth (e.g. puffy paint or permanent markers on t-shirts)
  • Coloured paper – painted on with baby oil to make it translucent in parts (then can be hung in the window to see the result)
  • Whiteboards
  • Paper towel drawn or dripped on with food colouring from pipettes
  • Painting eggs
  • Painting with clay or paints on cliffs or large rocks/boulders
  • Tray covered in bicarbonate of soda – then use coloured vinegar in droppers to drip over

Conclusions – EYFS Mark Making Ideas & Activities that Benefit Children

I hope that you found these EYFS mark making ideas and activities helpful and that your children enjoy them! You may also want to see my posts Pre-writing Activities or Outdoor Mark Making Ideas for additional ways to help children learn to write. Once children are ready to write, you may want to see my post on teaching children to write sentences. 🙂

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