EYFS: How Can We Explore Materials & Marks?

We don’t just have to paint on paper – the world is full of textures and materials which we can use as surfaces for artwork! 

How can we transform the surfaces around us by using line, colour and shape, and how can we make the objects we decorate reflect our personality? 

The way it feels to add paint or collage to a surface changes depending upon the qualities of that surface. Is it textured or smooth? Shiny or absorbent? What shape is it? What kinds of tool might we use to paint with? What do the colours look like and what kinds of marks might we make? Does the object or surface we are painting on give us clues as to what we might paint? 

Resources in this section encourage EYFS and SEND learners to be  open and inventive about the surfaces on which they make art. 

Painted Found objects by Paula Briggs
EYFS badge by Tobi Meuwissen
SEND badge by Tobi Meuwissen
Turning ourselves into fossils

Try These Activities...

Explore making a variety of marks using print and paint. See the Resource. 

Explore three different methods of  creating simple prints using string and poster paint. See the Resource. 

Adapt this resource to enable an exploration of drawing inspired by sounds. See the Resource.

Create night time scenes with collage and wax-resist See the Resource. 

Explore landscape through tactile mark-making and collage. See the Resource.

Explore the world around you and see what you can find. Explore colour in fun ways using shape, pattern and line to transform objects into new forms. See the Resource. 

Use collage imaginatively in two ways to create individual pieces, that can be joined together to form a collaborative piece.  See the Resource.

Use this classic watercolour technique to create a colourful galaxy scene. See the Resource.

Transform pebbles and stones into fossils by exploring how different media feels on the textured surface. See the Resource.

Create collages from rubbings, promoting skills such as dexterity, mark-making and dexterity, as well as nurturing curiosity about textures and surfaces in the world. See the Resource. 

Explore the tactile qualities of materials combined with movement to make patterns. See the Resource. 


Experiment with wax resist on calico to create a seasonal tapestry. See the Resource.

Adapt this resource to enable children to create large scale drawings or paintings and explore their relationship with the artwork they create. See the Resource.

Create a painting of the Savannah using techniques such as mono printing, drawing, painting and collage. See the Resource. 

Give learners the opportunity to design and paint their own T-shirt designs. See the Resource. 

Create casts in plasterboards by moulding modroc over found materials to create textured surfaces to paint on. See the Resource.

Exploring These Materials...

Open your mind and explore the many ways you can use poster paint in the class room. See the Video.

A special thank you to Scola and Daler Rowney for their support.

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