Spooky Mark Making and Glow in the Dark Jars…

abc doesBoys Learning, Creativity, Mark Making7 Comments

Chalk I am always on the hunt for new mark making ideas, especially for 'those boys'. What I have found out is that boys actually LOVE mark making. It just depends on the sort of marks they are asked to make and how they are asked to make them.

If your children are not keen to mark make then I am sorry to say that the likelihood is…It's not them…It's you!


The thing is, you have to be clever! Lure them into it. Take your mark making out of the mark making area. Give it a purpose and a bit of excitement.

If you want to get the best out of your mark making area (especially now when children are deciding what they like and what they don't about their new setting) then make sure that it is NOT always about mark making. Your first challenge is to get them in it WILLINGLY. Your second is to get them to come back. So, find something they are really interested in, stick it in your mark making area and then give them the best 10 minutes of their life. You might not do any focused mark making but they will be making good connections with both the adult and the space.


This is a great idea to keep up your sleeve. DON'T just save it for Halloween. It is an anytime activity and is especially good in a black out tent!

For this activity you will need

1. Somewhere dark

2. Some glow sticks (I used bracelets 100 for £7.99)

3. Jars with lids

4. Plastic gloves (optional)

5. Mark making surfaces (paper,wood,stone…)


It turns out that inside any sort of 'glow' product there is a very thin glass tube that you break to combine the fluids in it to make the glow. As we are going to be 'snipping' the end off the glow stick we are increasing the opportunity of children (and adults) coming into contact with tiny shards of glass so BE CAREFUL!

The contents of a glow stick is not toxic. Having said that you really wouldn't want to be drinking it or sticking it in your eyes so ONLY carry out this activity under ADULT SUPERVISION!

I tested this one out on my boys on holiday in Wales this summer. As is customary in our house we have to build a den on the first day. When the boys were younger it was 'all hands on deck' for the den building but now they are older it is more 'all hands on the ipod touch' and after 10 minutes I find myself building on my own! If I am honest…I am just as happy!

This was this time's effort combining the branch of the Oak tree in the garden.

P8282216 There is a big stack of old roofing slates in the field next to the barn we stayed in and so once the den was finished I got the boys to make signs to hang on the front. (Sneaky writing opportunity!)

P8302525 We of course have the camp fires and toast the marshmallows and make ourselves sick on 'smores'.

If you have never had a 'smore' then you have never lived!

Basically, it is a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two chocolate digestives (chocolate side in)!

There is  a skill to the perfect smore. Too long on the fire and your mallow will burn, not long enough and it will still be solid in the middle and snap your digestives!

Perfecting the technique is part of the pleasure!

(apparantly they are called 'smores' because everyone always asks for some more  smore!)

There are lots of very safe fire making options that you can use in your settings. You don't have to be huge infernos that burn for hours! You can buy fire bowls that will give you a fire that lasts just long enough to toast a couple of marshmallows on.

Here is a 5 minute fire bowl.

Fire bowl
This one is available from the brilliant Mindstretchers. All of the details are here

Back to the mark making…

The first idea you might like to try is making a Glow Jar. I made these using plastic storage jars and mini jam jars that we strung up inside the den.



Initially I thought that I would cut the end off the glow stick and squeeze the contents into the jar. However this proved to be VERY unsuccessful. The best thing to do is to just snip the glow stick into small pieces into the jar and shake!

When you first snip into the stick you sometimes get a bit of a glow stick splash back which will result in you looking like something out of an early 1980's pop video!

TOP TIP  – snip your glow stick into your pot INSIDE a plastic bag!

Here are Geordie's pots

At first we just put one colour in each pot but then we started mixing colours. They all looked good.

The second great use for a glow stick is Glow Writing.

You just bend your glow stick to activate it then sip one end off. (This is where you might want to let the children wear gloves if you are at all worried about them getting any 'glow' on their skin.)

Then you write…

It glows brilliantly but whereas the jars glowed for AGES, the writing mysteriously disappears!

We wrote on stone and slate and it worked brilliantly. I also think that it would look fab on tin foil.

Now tell me that you can't interest those boys in mark making!!

If you try it, let me know.






7 Comments on “Spooky Mark Making and Glow in the Dark Jars…”

  1. Hi, I have just been reading this post. I was browsing the site for inspiration as I work as a TA in a reception class. I was attracted to the spooky mark making idea and remembered I had some Glow in the dark paint I had bought for my daughter from the Early Learning Centre (£1.75 for a 170ml bottle). I used a paint brush dipped in the paint to write my name, and also used my finger tip in the paint to write my name . . . and hey presto, it works! It’ probably not as bright as the contents of a glow stick but it may be a safer option. The paint is thick and gunky too, so an inviting texture for children. I am going to try it with my class next.

  2. Hi Can you tell me how log these stay glowing? I was going to do them for my daughter’s birthday party – do you think it’ be ok to do in a well-supervised group setting? And how many glowsticks did you need per jar? Questions questions – but such a great idea!!

  3. Hi Ivy
    Thank you for your comment
    You are absolutely right there is a small glass vile in the glow stick, I do mention that in the post.
    When I first created this post I researched the content of the liquid in a glow stick and the information I found said that the liquid was NOT toxic although consumption was not recommended!
    As I say in the post, this is one for adult supervision but definitely worth the effort.

  4. I would have to say to use caution, Glow sticks have little tubes of glass in them and when you ‘snap’ then to activate the glow it leaves them floating about in the liquid. The liquid they use is also quite toxic. I think the jars are awesome as a adult can make them and then seal them. But using them to write with would make me a bit too nervous.

  5. Glad you liked it Sarah. It is one of those very simple but very effective activities – having said that it is certainly not worth and overexcited daughter and a sleepless night!

  6. Wow! I loved this idea so much that as soon as I had finished reading the post I made a glow jar and took it up to show my son who should be asleep by now! I recieved suitable wows and left him to sleep. Tomorrow I will be glow writing with both children. I daren’t wake Stephanie up now or the morning will be far too difficult!

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