Students worked as a team to create a mural using different types of lines

Exploring Mark Making in Early Childhood

Julyana Garcia and Rosie Torres
Early Childhood I students (ages 4–5) explored the concept of mark-making as a way to build a language for communicating their ideas, feelings, and observations. It's an important step in their journey of literacy and self expression.

In the first few weeks of school, the children in Early Childhood Rooms 16 and 17 (ages 4–5) explored the concept of mark-making. After teachers introduced them to the artistic concepts of texture and lines, each child created a “Dictionary of Marks” in their sketchbooks. They collected different types of marks, such as straight lines, jagged lines, dots, swirls, and shapes.
The children also were given many opportunities to investigate lines and marks through different types of experiences, such as creating lines using loose materials, scissors and construction paper, or markers. We even asked children to take their dot on a walk without lifting their marker.
In these explorations the children began to build a language of mark-making through which they can communicate their ideas, feelings, and observations.

Inspiration from Mentor Artists

After they made their individual collections, the children worked together to make a multimedia mural using blacks, grays, white acrylic paint, pencil, and charcoal. Looking for inspiration, we watched a video of Wassily Kandinsky, an early abstract painter known for his innovative and nonfigurative art. We also took a look at Picasso’s animal line drawings and Paul Klee’s continual line paintings.

Working as an Artistic Team

The children constructed a group painting using curves and lines to express their feelings. As an artistic team, the students worked together in creating their design and built on each other’s ideas. They were again given a limited amount of materials that they needed to share. They were asked to cover the whole space with lines and were given the challenge to paint only in spaces that were not already painted. The goal was to help them learn to how to respect the work of their fellow artists. In the process, they were able to practice asking each other about how to share the materials and space. They learned ways to connect their designs with one another and explore how shapes worked together.
This new language of mark making built the foundation for children to investigate how lines can help represent feelings. It also formed the basis for looking carefully at the lines that make up the letters in our names. 

Experiences with Lines
  • Children watched a video and learned about different lines
  • Children independently explored lines on their own using paper and pencil, chalk and even paint
  • Books: The Line, Lines That Wiggle and Harold and the Purple Crayon
    • Students worked as a team to create a mural using different types of lines