Today is Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节直译 (in China 端午节 or Duanwu Festival). For most this means it is time to make zongzi (粽子), but around the world it is better known for the dragon boat racing. I’m going to show you how to fold a quick boat that you can then craft into the more elaborate boat shown above.
Mark-making is your child’s first step towards handwriting and drawing. It’s important for motor skills but also for creativity and imagination – with a pencil in their hand a child is no longer limited to the realms of reality, and anything is possible!
Mark-making can begin as soon as your child is able to sit up in a high-chair unaided. Early mark-making ideas include hand-prints using finger paints, encouraging your child to draw in yoghurt on their high-chair tray, and drawing in sand, in a sand pit or on the beach. Mark-making activities can be great sensory opportunities, as a child explores the squidginess of finger paints, the graininess of sand, the scratchiness of chalk on a pavement, the sweep of a paintbrush on an easel, the swoosh of a marker pen on a whiteboard… Try:
Drawing patterns in yoghurt in your baby’s high chair tray and encouraging them to copy
Dot painting, using fingerpaints to create a pattern or pictures – leaves on a tree are always beautiful, or dots on a dalmation, patterns on a butterfly’s wings… you draw the outline and let them fill in the colours
Once your toddler has a fist grip they can use crayons or even pens, pencil crayons or paintbrushes, under supervision, to create art.
Encourage them to paint both on flat surfaces like the table and upright surfaces – an easel is great, but if you don’t have one, tape paper onto a window or door (if your paints are non-washable tape newspaper underneath first).
Paint splatters can be made by dipping scraps of fabric into paint and throwing them onto a piece of paper on the floor.
Screwed up waste-paper can be used for printing.
Carve shapes out of halved potatoes to make simple prints (we did this with our preschoolers to tie in with dinosaur and wild animal topics, which they loved!)
Blow art is very popular with children who are old enough to understand the importance of not sucking paint through the straw! You can drop poster paints onto paper and blow them outwards, or add watercolour paint to washing-up liquid in a shallow container, blow bubbles then print the image onto paper by laying it on top.
PRESCHOOLERS – INTRODUCING LETTERS
Fill a tray with rice or lentils and encourage your child to use a finger to draw letters.
Easy-grip pencils are both practical, encouraging them by making it easier to hold the pencil, and exciting, as they are pencils of their vey own.
Encourage them to label their art with their own name.
Copying simple words to describe their art is also a good way to introduce writing.
AUTUMN FRUIT MARK-MAKING
Autumn is a great time of year to look to nature for mark-making resources. On the simplest level, you can collect blackberries or elderberries, place them between two pieces of fabric or paper, and squash or even hammer them to make fruit splats.
You can also squash berries with a little water to make paint, which can be painted with brushes or fingers.
Food-based activities are great for both weaning children, as they also encouarage them to explore texture, and “mouthers” of any age, as they can mark-make without worry if any finds its way into their mouths!