Thursday 28 February 2013


Today, mummy, I'm going to teach you about mark making!
It's a bit odd being a teacher and becoming a mum! I was quite conscious that I didn't want to be a Teacher in the academic sense to my children, in fact I try quite hard not to be, although of course all parents are their child's most important teacher in every other sense of the word. I'm not ambitious for them to be academically brilliant, I'm ambitious for them to be curious and love learning new things. When they were little I tried to give them a love of books but I never tried to teach them to read, I'm happy to let their school teach them all the mechanics.
It seems a bit contrary then to talk about chalk, the teacher's tool of choice (until our lovely whiteboards wiped centuries of chalk dust and squeaky blackboards from our classrooms.)
Lovely picture, and the red tastes yummy too!
We've got a little "tree house" in our garden that  I nabbed from the school I used to teach at when it was deemed unsafe for the children to play in. My husband dis-assembled it, brought it home and rebuilt it in our garden with the worst of the rot in the legs cut off! I added a board at the back- mostly so the boys wouldn't be constantly noseying at the neighbours, and painted it with blackboard paint so they could indulge in some early (and totally undirected- I promise!) "mark making." It seemed like a great idea ('til one of their older cousins came and wrote "Poo" on it in large letters and I realised there might be problems in the future!)

Time for a clean slate.
The boys really enjoyed chalking on it. In fact, Zac was more enthusiastic about drawing with chalk than anything else. I used to worry about his reluctance to draw, I even spoke to his pre-school about it, which seems hugely ironic now that he absolutely loves drawing and is really good at it. I think his problem was that he couldn't make his pictures look like he could see them in his mind. Completely unlike me, he is a perfectionist about that kind of thing. Chalk seemed to free him up, because if he "went wrong" it was very easy to wipe it away and try again.

And of course, once we had chalk in the garden everything else got chalked too. They drew tracks on the patio and drove toy vehicles along them. I drew hopscotch games and we sort-of played, with rather more jumping than hopping. We drew round each other, and I drew round the kids shadows so they could see whether they were taller or shorter than their shadow when they lay beside it. We played noughts and crosses. We all drew pictures up and down the path, and of course, as soon as it rained all the marks faded away.

There be chalk in them there hills!

You can get great, colourful, chunky chalks pretty cheaply. We also collected natural chalk on walks because there's lots of it in the hills around us, but it was a bit "scratchy" on the blackboard and only really worked well on the paving slabs.

There are lots of other chalk ideas to be found on the internet- some of which I'm now itching to try! A recent one I read involved letting the children crush up the little nubby ends of their chalks and use the colourful powder they made for colouring potions, making watercolour paints etc.
Here are a few links.

But of course, you'll probably find your kids have plenty of good ideas of their own.


  1. As a nursery class teacher I 'get' the whole appeal of chalk for reluctant mark makers & find the same can be said of whiteboards. You are os right, some children find drawing so frustrating & off putting as it's so final & they are committing to paper for ever. love the blog & so glad to have found you via you linking up to the outdoor play party this week.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments Kierna. You're right about whiteboards having a similar appeal to reluctant mark makers. I found a megasketch board, where you write with a magnetic pen and then rub it away again, also really helped Zac become more confident about trying new drawing ideas.

  2. Looks like lots of fun :) I love playing with chalk and I'm 26 ;) #LetKidsBeKids xx

    1. LOL Hannah. Think my primary reason for having kids was so I'd get to muck about like one all over again. It's the one thing that tempts me to have another!!

  3. Outdoor chalking is definitely a great way to encourage children to get drawing. It brings creativity to life, my kids love it too :)
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

  4. We enjoy chalking on our drive, it can keep the girls amused for hours x #LetKidsBeKids