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Exciting Writing: Approaches to Mark-Making & Emergent Writing

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Pippa visited the nursery at The Whitegate Centre in Lancashire each week for a whole term during 2013, working as both a practitioner and as a consultant in a project designed to encourage early engagement in emergent writing. The consultancy began with a twilight session to share objectives and strategies, giving all the practitioners an opportunity reflect on their practice and to shape the content to meet the specific needs of their setting. Over twelve delivery days Pippa introduced activities and interventions that made an observable difference to children’s levels of engagement with mark-making and to their progress in developing emergent writing skills.

This beautiful book considers approaches to early writing development by examining separately the underlying thought processes and the physical skills. It also explores how to embed learning about writing within the context of imaginative play and storytelling, presenting several case studies of successful guided activities. Each chapter includes practical suggestions for Early Years practitioners to try out within the setting and advice on implementing continuous provision of mark-making resources. It’s pages are packed with lovely images from the project and quotations from the children who joined in the sessions. The book explores three strands of writing development before describing case studies of activities that unite them:

  • Thinking About Writing – this exploration of the cognitive processes that form the foundation of all communication develops the use of characters, story sequences, and an understanding of the connections between letters (graphemes) and their sounds(phonemes).
  • Skills For Writing – an examination of the physical skills associated with transcription, building both gross & fine motor skills. We also broaden the range of traditional and technological tools that children are confident with using.
  • Writing Through Play – discovering how various kinds of small world play and roleplay can be instrumental in helping children to develop as thinkers, communicators and writers.

Developing playful mark-making and early writing experiences through the continuous environment had been identified as an area we wanted to develop further as a Centre. Pippa Pixley was invited to co-construct a project which would inspire and motivate children to mark-make, with a particular focus on boys. Each week, Pippa introduced a new creative theme, aiming to capture the children’s imaginations and lead them on new adventures involving different and varied forms of mark-making. Her activities were tailored to the children’s interests and the Super Hero sessions were a particular favourite. The children were always excited and eager to work with Pippa, and to find out what their next adventure would entail.”
Alison Melville, Nursery Teacher, The Whitegate Centre

exciting writing spread

I was Super Fireman Sam. Pippa let me do writing. We drew pictures of whirlpools and waterfalls. I liked the Princess story. She went to a castle and a storm comed. I made a story about a Fireman Sam with the beads.”

Sam, aged 4

To arrange an Exciting Writing Project for your setting get in touch with Pippa by using the Contact Form.


Unlocking Imagination: Approaches to Small World Play

unlocking imagination book imageCommissioned by Staghills Children’s Centre this practitioner handbook details a selection of indoor and outdoor approaches to small world play. It’s pages, illustrated with beautiful photographs taken by Pippa during her residency, give those working in the early years ideas, resources and confidence to help their children to develop their storying skills. Chapter headings include:

Photography Skills Mark Making Pencil People Mini Me Creation Fairy Tales Seaside Stories Naughty Toys Superheroes Water Play Fantasy Worlds Glorious Mud Light & Shade Storybook Escape Little Pirates Puppet Pets Try Something New!

We invited Pippa Pixley to work with small groups of children within the nursery with the aim of improving their communication skills. The project explored several themes and really provided a brilliant stimulus for developing children’s imaginations and creativity. We have all learnt a lot during the process and had fun at the same time!”

Linda Connelly, Headteacher, Staghills Children’s Centre


The Unlocking Imagination Project helps practitioners to discover the key to guiding children into the wonderful world of storymaking, as they explore their environment, create their own characters and embark on an exciting adventures.

To arrange an Unlocking Imagination Project for your setting get in touch with Pippa by using the Contact Form.