Encourage Children, Particularly Boys, To Mark Make On The Playground With These 7 Ideas...
There are concerns that the gap between boys’ and girls’ literacy achievement in primary school is rising at a significant rate. Therefore, many schools have included the objective ‘improve boys’ literacy attainment’ in their school action plan: particularly the improvement of writing rather than reading.
Even at the early age children start school, many teachers are aware that the boys in their class are less interested in writing and mark making compared to the girls.
Because of this, their literacy attainment at the end of reception may be behind the girls in their class, falling further behind as they progress through full time education.
With this in mind, we have collaborated with Reception teachers across the UK to highlight 7 playground activities which have proven to encourage boys to mark make.
1. Paint Panel
Consider the areas of interest of your young boys. It is well known that most young boys can have a particular interest in toys like action figures, characters, animals and transport vehicles.
Getting to know children’s interests and relating activities to them will inspire children to pick up mark making materials and participate in a mark making activity.
Through the use of an outdoor Paint Panel, young children can be provided with toys relating to their interests and challenged to create their own roadways or animal footprint paths with the small toys dipped into a paint pot: developing fine motor skills, building strength and dexterity in the hands and fingers as they manipulate the toy to create patterns.
Once young children are engaged in the activity, they will use their imaginative spark to take the activity further and transform the activity into their own games.
Encouraging children to even pick up a pen can be a difficult task for some schools. Teachers can avoid the struggle of inspiring children to draw, by using their interests once again to create an exciting activity where they cannot resist picking up a pen or pencil.
Toy car roofs, dinosaur backs and other small toys are perfect for boosting mark making. Attach a whiteboard marker to the back of an exciting, interesting toy and challenging children to create a roadway or footpath through the forest by pushing their toys across a Giant Whiteboard.
Involve other children through the introduction of healthy competition activities such as who can drive across the roadway first or create the most complex, challenging maze.
This stimulating activity will be particularly useful for reluctant mark makers as it develops children’s initial pen control and fine motor skills as they push their toy across the whiteboard to mark make while developing social skills and good sportsmanship.
Sometimes children need a little bit of direction before taking over and transforming an activity into child-led play. Many children are fantastic at using their imaginations to create new imaginary play games although this can only stretch so far.
Introduce challenges to encourage children to mark make and open their minds to new possibilities.
Challenge children to work with each other to use a full Giant Chalkboard to draw a character, setting, different world or anything else that sparks their imagination and interest. Children will be excited to draw their interests and add interesting features. Further challenge children to explain or label the features they have drawn.
Through activities such as this, children will be developing important skills needed to write such as hand eye coordination, hand and finger strength and fine motor skills.
Activities related to this one not only benefits children’s literacy skills, it also contributes towards the expressive arts area of the curriculum, while developing social, communication and language skills.
They say a playhouse can transport children to new worlds full of imaginative games and learning through play since they are an open-ended resource. This is quite true with the imaginative power of a young child.
Our Playhouse's (including den making holes) can be transformed into a construction area to spark the interest of the young builders in the class, while encouraging mark making.
Filled with a variety of construction materials, children can create their own marvellous creations in the playhouse. Whether they use string and cardboard tubes or construction blocks, they will be developing their fine and gross motor skills through their construction work: contributing to important writing skills.
Once their creations have been constructed, children can be tasked with writing or drawing instructions of how to build their creations, contributing towards literacy - learning through a fun and appealing activity.
5. Tuff Spot Table
Improving literacy attainment doesn’t always have to be done through pens, pencils and paper, it can be developed through sensory play. Providing a Tuff Spot Table with sand and toys on top is perfect to further develop fine motor skills, spark children’s imagination and interests as they create patterns and structures in the sand.
As our Tuff Spot Tray is 4 sided, children will develop their communication, language and social skills as they stand and discuss their findings and ideas together.
The Tuff Spot Table can also be transformed into a miniature car wash for the children’s toy cars. Provide soapy water, toothbrushes, small pieces of sponge and toy cars for your mini valeters.
Children will discover the brilliant set up and will be thrilled to wash and clean their toy cars, while participating in an activity that develops their fine motor skills: advancing the vital skills needed to write.
6. Constructions table
Many children love participating in role play games based on real life objects or activities, particularly pretending to drive a car or ride a motorcycle.
Through the use of an excellent, open-ended Construction Table, filled with paper, pens and other mark making materials, children can create registration plates for the bikes, scooters and trikes in the playground as they see on real life cars and motorcycles.
The rule of needing a registration plate before used on the Roadway could even be implemented to bring imaginative games to life.
As they will naturally disappear due to the elements, children will have to create new plates each week before they can race around the playground.
Creating a registration plate is an exciting activity to children due to the relation to real life cars. They will be excited to create their own registration plate before using string to carefully tie them onto the vehicle - developing fine motor skills and dexterity
7. Sand Table
Messy sand play is a favourite activity throughout many primary school early years environments. Even more so because manipulating sand, using hands to scoop and dig or using objects such as spades are perfect activities to develop fine motor skills, finger and hand strength; skills necessary for writing.
A Sand Table can provide many open-ended activities to develop important writing skills. Secretive pirate treasure can be buried in the sand table, with a few hints and clues, children can be led to the sand table with the hint of treasure and use small spades or their fingers to scoop, dig and manipulate the sand to find the treasure.
Children could even draw and cut out pirate hats before heading out on their treasure hunt.
Once the children have discovered the treasure, they can head to a quiet area in the playground to draw a map to the treasure with an ‘X’ to mark the spot - aaarrrrgggghhhh!
The best way to encourage children to write is to observe their interests and tailor activities or set up child-led tasks which both encourage mark making, but also provides inspiration, so that they have a purpose to write.
If your EYFS outdoor learning environment is lacking equipment which contributes towards the early year’s curriculum, do not hesitate to Contact Us for expert advice from one of our expert playground consultants during a free consultant.