The Mark Makers
This month, the applications opened to apply for schools for little ones starting in September 2021. On the day the application opened, I logged on and completed our choices for Rowan. I can remember how stressful it was with our eldest son, Rory. We visited all the local schools and chose the one which we thought would suit him best. This time around, thanks to Covid, there would be no visiting schools, just virtual tours. I felt quite thankful that we were in the very lucky position to know that we wanted Rowan to attend the same school as Rory which took away a lot of the stress. As I hit the final button to submit his application, it dawned on me just how grown up Rowan has become.
We often think of the ‘firsts’ when our children are babies. We celebrate their first tooth, their first word, their first steps, etc. Rowan is of the age where we are celebrating a whole new range of firsts. Some of these firsts are quite traditional such as the first day of Pre School. Some are less traditional. We were quite excited that Rowan joined in with making our Christmas Pudding for the first time this year and was genuinely interested in helping to measure the ingredients out and stir them into the bowl, for example.
This was also the first year that Rowan has written to our elf to invite him to spend Advent at our house. This is usually a job for Rory but this year Rowan has a go at writing a letter too. Christmas is such a fantastic time to encourage early writing because there are so many opportunities to write in a fun way. There are Christmas lists, Christmas Cards, Letters to Father Christmas, Post Office Role Play games… I could go on and on and in fact I have plenty of suggestions in my blog: Fun Ways To Help Your Child Write.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with your child’s writing journey, then don’t panic. To start with, you just want your child to have fun experimenting with making marks on the paper and pretending to write. This is a really important stage in writing development and should be encouraged. There are plenty of opportunities for writing in play. You could play cafes and ask your child to take your order or play shops and pretend to write a shopping list together.
Recently, we were very kindly gifted a copy of The Mark Makers Activity Book and an accompanying story book Magic Marks with Swirlo, which is part of a wider set from Little Learners. The Mark Maker Resources have been written by Rachel Fay who is a Primary School teacher specialising in Early Years and her expertise is clear in the books.
The Activity Book introduces children to the characters in The Mark Maker Series. Each character helps children to make different shape marks. Rowan’s favourite character was Lionel the Soldier who helps with straight marks. There is also Archie the Rainbow who helps with arches and humps, Swirlo the Magic Mark who helps with circles and swirls and finally Ziggy the Monster who helps with zigzags and diagonal lines. The book starts with the simplest marks and progresses through to forming more tricky shapes throughout the book. Children are encouraged to use their fingers to trace the shapes helping to develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination, both of which are important for early writers. There is also opportunities to use a pencil to form patterns, shapes, numbers and letters.
Rowan enjoyed snuggling up with his older brother at bedtime to enjoy the Magic Marks with Swirlo story book. Rory and Rowan travelled to Number Tower, Shape City and Letter Land with Swirlo the Magic Pot. Poor Swirlo has lost some of his marks and needs some help to find them. This is such a lovely book to help children to identify shapes, numbers and letters. The story is so wonderful that little ones won’t even realise they’re learning.
As well as their fantastic books, there are also some free resources on the Little Learners website including some free colouring sheets of the Mark Maker characters, a thank you to the NHS from Archie the Rainbow and some Captain Tom colouring sheets.
Rowan has really enjoyed the Mark Makers Activity book. It has been great to do as a calm, quiet activity and I can already see his pencil control improving from working through the patterns and shapes. He has really enjoyed reading the story book too. Rowan and I would thoroughly recommend the Mark Makers resources.
The Mark Makers Books are available from: https://littlelearnersuk.com/the-mark-makers/
I was kindly gifted this subscription box for review purposes, but all opinions expressed are my own.