I was very excited to hear that Michael Jones (well-known for his prowess in the speech and language world, via his blog Talk4Meaning) had a new book out about mark making and early writing – called On Your Marks!
This is a very different book to his other writing, as it is an activity filled, practical ideas based book. The first notable feature is that each page (the ‘ideas’) are all photocopiable, which is made easier as the book is spiral bound, with a landscape layout. Next you will notice how the chapters are organised in a very logical fashion – even starting with the types of paper you may use – moving onto big movements, fine motor skills and ‘handedness’.
Much is made of mark making as a process rather than product, so there is plenty of advice about taking photos during the activities, as well as displaying the final product.
Some of the less common good ideas are discussed too, such as how moving to music improves gross motor skills (essential for producing body movements for writing later on) and how the way we visually scan a page depends on cultural writing norms, affecting the way that we teach children.
There are also some very useful, practical tips. For example, when you write up a display in a setting, do you have a setting-wide, agreed script or font? How does this fit with the school that children will be transitioning into? I suspect a lot of us probably don’t have a universal script throughout the setting – something which probably needs to be discussed!
The glossary at the end of the book is very valuable, making a great quick reference guide for both students and experienced practitioners.
Finally, the book is full of Michael’s wit and sharp observations, as you would expect. My favourite example is on page 10, whilst discussing painting with children, during the process:
It looks like you painted a frog.
Oh, it’s mummy is it?
In summary, this book is practical, full of great ideas and is a very enjoyable read too.
You can purchase copies from here.