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Mark making resources for outside

This page has been written to accompany our blog about mark making and writing outside. 

A list of mark making and writing resources and inspirations

Natural materials

  • story stones collections
  • clay (with / without water and tools - introduce gradually / at different times)
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Imaginative resources

  • fairy gardens (Juliet Robertson / Creative Star blogs about this – see further info list)
  • other small world toys and popular children’s characters
  • dens and hiding places with mark making basket / toolbox
  • superheroes with lots of props
  • making ‘mini me’ figures using children’s photos – for small world play, speaking, listening and writing stories
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Props, provocations and other resources

  • comics and favourite magasines, books outside
  • post box
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  • sensory garden
  • making lotions and potions
  • favourite story books as provocation (Stick Man, Bear Hunt, Handa’s Surprise, Peepo, 3 Little Pigs, Gruffalo, Bear Hunt)
  • paint on large scale
  • mud kitchen
  • using artists’ work and books – reference, creative ideas
  • gardening
  • builders’ trays with different substances…
  • tactile trays: beans, shaving foam, sand, ice, salt, lentils, gloop (cornflour and water), spaghetti, string (+ cutting)
  • different types of surfaces outside – eg sand, snow, water, mud, earth, bark, air
  • bottles, pouring, jugs for water, potions, paints – making marks
  • blocks area + signs, labels, directions, instructions (+ dens, materials)
  • role play outside – word banks, books, dictionaries, shops, ice cream parlour, take away, garage, etc
  • writing equipment everywhere and well displayed and looked after eg typewriter, keyboard, pencils, mark makers
  • mini-beasts and bug hotel – ref books, identifiers, catching pots, labels, signs
  • provocation: eg Gruffalo sighting, bear cave, cat hiding in box, rabbit foo foo, maps, directions, arrows etc
  • mixed media – pastels, paints, mud, crayons, chalks, water,
  • recipes: play dough making, mud baking, powder paints
  • word banks
  • picnic blanket
  • sound effects and words: mixing, whisking, stirring,
  • wood work / tree-trunks / logs
  • lists, labels, signs, real signs from outdoor environment
  • loose parts – large and small collections
  • large portable equipment – crates, logs, blocks, tyres, tubes, guttering
  • movement equipment eg beanbags, bikes, see saw, balance, cones, balls, hoops, goals for football / targets etc
  • balancing apparatus, climbing, stepping
  • music and rhythm outside – CDs, CD player, dancing ribbons, scarves, streamers, instruments
  • tool boxes of items that make marks - portable
  • easels
  • clipboards
  • construction sets – variety of sets that join in different ways eg twisting, pushing, slotting, magnets
  • collage and creative materials
  • scissors and activities – using different papers and textures to cut, and on different surfaces
  • thick and chunky mark-making tools – large brushes, marker pens, chalks, big pens, wide pencils, rollers, sticks, moulds etc
  • fixing and joining materials / equipment for book making etc – eg stapler, sellotape, masking tape, split pins, etc
  • opportunities to be physical – space and time – rolling, pushing, running
  • toys for filling eg baskets, buggies, trolley, wheelbarrow, buckets, bags etc
  • sand pit / sand play
  • flip charts, whiteboards, easels, large paper, large chalkboard.
  • blackboard paint with chalks on logs / fence / shed
  • ‘mini-me’ adventures (small world)
  • puppets
  • light sabers
  • storytelling / speaking / imagination / writing provocations: box of keys, pirate treasure, superhero cape, x marks the spot, dinosaurs, etc
  • pets – instructions, labels, signs etc
  • performance spaces, shelters, gathering areas
  • large mirrors – for reflections, acting, painting and mark-making on
  • surfaces for writing large-scale
  • digital equipment and IT – using apps
  • string, washing line, pegs (+ prompt cards / objects)
  • bird table, bird watching, reference books, lists (nature apps)
  • using the natural elements and seasons
  • fabric sheets with mark makers nearby
  • maps to write and draw on
  • photos with captions to note and copy or add to

Role play areas

  • Paper of different sizes/colours/shapes/textures
  • Envelopes of different sizes and types
  • Variety of tools such as crayons, pencils, felt-tips, chalks ... Blank greetings cards and postcards
  • Real 1p stamps
  • Notepads
  • Clipboards
  • Order forms
  • Till receipts
  • Diaries and address books
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape and string
  • Old wrapping paper/brown paper
  • Post-it notes
  • Phone
  • Calculator and keyboard
  • Paper clips, hole punch and stapler (supervise)
  • Sticky labels and stickers