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Mark making: more than just marks!

      In education, ‘mark making’ is increasingly used as a generic term to describe the ways in which children ’create and experiment with symbols and marks’ for both drawing and writing (e.g., DFES. 2008. Mark Making Matters). However, there is considerable confusion about the meaning of this often-undefined term. 

     Well, yes, young children certainly do make marks when communicating through their early drawings, maps, emergent writing and their Mathematical Graphics, but this is not the whole story. Our concern is that the term ‘mark-making’ lacks clarity and fails to do justice to young children’s powerful thinking and the ways in which children choose to explore and communicate their mathematical thinking. Not only that, but this term suggest that all children's early marks, signs and symbols are the same (whether in their drawings, writing or in their CMG) - which they are clearly not. 

      We are not alone in raising concern about the term ‘mark making’ and in early childhood research the term ‘graphics’ and ‘graphicacy’ are gaining ground (e.g., Anning, 2003; 2004). We originated the term Children’s Mathematical Graphics, and in this context, graphics encompass a wide range of graphical marks, signs and symbols that children choose to communicate their mathematical thinking.