Scribbling Stages

Part 3 of 5 - Controlled Scribbling

25 January 2017


So your child has been scribbling for months and it doesn’t look very different to you. But then ... there is a big leap from random to controlled scribbling. There will be an “aha” moment when your child realizes that she is the one making those marks with the crayon.

This is the beginning of controlled scribbling, a very important step in your child’s art development. This may be about six months after your child begins to scribble, but the time will of course vary with each child. 

This can happen before your very eyes. You can’t always tell, because the scribbles will still look like scribbles-- but they are different in a very important way. During random scribbling, your little one is looking around and they're not particularly focused … they make marks on the floor, the wall, themselves … it’s simply the doing that’s fun. In fact, they haven’t connected that they are creating the marks at all.

Your controlled scribbler now wants to see what happens when she tries making different kinds movements and marks and scribbles. Now she intensely watches and is completely involved with her scribbling. Using repeated motions, your young scribbler can now make distinctive diagonal, horizontal, and vertical lines as well as big and small squiggly shapes. And bonus, they stay on the paper!

This gradual control over the motion of scribbling is a vital experience for a preschool child. Your scribbler is now able to make marks go in a desired direction--- a totally different experience from random scribbling. It’s major step in your child's development-- the awareness that they are creating and affecting something.

Sit with your child while he’s scribbling.  Can you see the difference  between his first scribbles and now?  Feel free to share what you observed. My blog, Talking with Young Children About Their Creations has more simple tips about how to support your child's early expression. Also try our activity, Shadowy Fun to see how your controlled scribbler explores with chalk. And feel free to let us what you think-- you can give us your feedback right here.

Up Next:  Drum roll please ... it's the Basic Forms Scribbling Stage!