We love some mark making at Karana. We love to express ourselves through being creative and putting what we are thinking out into the dirt or sand. Using sticks, or even our fingers and hands, we love to make our marks. I often find the children making marks in the dirt or sand throughout the day. Excitedly showing us the pictures they have created and telling us the story that goes a long with it.
Such a simple activity can encourage so much development. I must admit, when I first saw the children doing this (and mind you, I have seen this for many years but not always seen, or really thought of the learning behind it.) I loved seeing the big movements of their arms then the smaller ones. Going from big to small. Small to big and everything in between too. Running across the yard with the long sticks as they make their ‘roads’ or ‘tracks’ behind them. Going goodness knows where but just going!
The children, through this play are also experimenting with patterns. Making lines, dots and squiggles over and over. Making marks that may represent their names or their families names. I find that when they are doing this, they are repeating the same makings over and over when representing their name for themselves. It means something to them and those symbols are their name. This is what they have picked to be their name. To them, they see their name and while we may write it down for them prior to them doing it for themselves (if they ask us to write their names), this is how they see it and how they recreate it. It could be completely different but, I think that is what makes it so special. Their interpretation of things. The children’s imaginations being encouraged and shared with others around them. They choose to share it with me too. That in itself is priceless.
While this playing is happening they are also developing their body strength. Encouraging their writing skills would you believe? They are working their shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and finger muscles. All intricate parts of development. They all link together, and in the process, it not only increases their strength, but mentally prepares their bodies for writing and other gross or fine motor activities. Big movements to little movements. It also encourages their cognitive skills as they process the different pressures needed to draw with. How they hold their stick (how it feels comfortable to them) or their hand so they can use their fingers effectively. In other words, they are actually getting a whole body workout. Mind and body.
I love that simple play brings so much more than what appears on the surface. Play is learning and learning is play. Discovery, excitement, self expression. It all is a part of play and shines through in so many ways.
Nat at Karana