Scribbling is the child's first artwork.
In the scribbling (mark making) stage,
babies that smear food are learning to scribble
Pounding a crayon on paper is an early variation of scribbling.
A child that can grab your finger is old enough to
hold a crayon for scribbling.
how to work with children who scribble on walls

(first scribbles) 



(becoming verbal)
(becoming symbolic)
Provide Materials

Use noise questions
Use kinetic questions
"Does your marker like to dance" "Does the crayon like to skate?"
"How fast can it spin?"

Use direction 
"Does the crayon go up the paper? Down the paper?"

Use size and color

Use shape questions: "Does the marker make a circle?"

Utilize sounds, 
noises, music

Do not worry about "pictures" because for the child much of scribbling is not visual as much as it is motion and action

For growth, materials
need good 
line contrast. 
Maximize use of 
Dark and Bright 
on white
Examples are:
Markers,  Crayons 
Thick Paints
firm bristle brushes 
Clay and similar modeling materials, wet chalk on dark paper
Wet Sand. 
Blocks - natural wood and colored. 
Sorting sets of Color, Texture, Shape.

Minimize use of transparent watercolor, soft hair brushes, and finger-paints because they are harder to see and it is harder to learn the connection between action and result

Try different sizes & fit the size of the tool to the size of the paper

For More Growth

Ask for the story of 
the picture. 

Encourage verbalization, explanation. 

Ask about under, 
over, which is bigger, smaller, sad and happy.

Ask if there is any more that they want to add? 

Ask where to place their name?

to>preschematic picture
to>thinking picture
to>x-rato>introductiony picture
to>quest for order
to>scribble information
preschematic information
to>schematic information

Generally, large paper sizes are suggested, but there are times and places when very small paper works very well. The scribbles in this video were done on 3 x 4 inch paper by a 31 month old toddler while attending a wedding ceremony.  These are a few from a series of 12 scribbles on a small sketch pad. The toddler works on the floor. By the end of this practice session learning activity, I asked him if he would like to draw a boy. You will see him drawing of person with a ballpoint pen on 3 x 4 inch paper.

  All rights reserved.  This page © Marvin Bartel.
This page was updated, Sept. 23, 2010

For permission to make copies or handouts, e-mail the author. 

Many authors and researchers in art education have written about the stages of artistic development.  
Viktor Lowenfeld made many observations and described the stages in his book, Creative and Mental Growth.  The 4th  edition of Creative and Mental Growth by Viktor Lowenfeld and W. Lambert Brittain. 1964 includes a  summary with charts describing the development stages in Chapter 13. pages 395 to 402.