Drawing is the first permanent way children communicate their ideas.

With this Play Invitation, children will discover the beauty of overlapping layers of color over drawings made with permanent markers.

Concepts such as transparency, permanence, thick and thin, over and under can be explored while children develop their creativity and motor skills.

What Could Lead Us to This Play Invitation

  • Children have been exploring transparency;
  • Children are excited about creating marks and using markers;
  • Children have been exploring covering and enveloping things or themselves;
  • Children are curious to combine materials and techniques.

Materials Needed

  • Permanent markers (Sharpies)
  • Cake watercolors
  • Heavy paper
  • Water
  • Brushes

Setting up This Play Invitation

  1. Place the paper and the permanent markers on a clean table. Since permanent markers can leave permanent stains on clothes, you may want to have aprons on hand.
  2. Gather the watercolor cakes, brushes, and a container of water to offer the children, once they’ve finished creating their drawings with the markers.

    Tip: You can place the paper in a tray, or secure it to the table with tape, to prevent it from moving while drawing.

How to Create the Painting

  1. Invite children to draw on a piece of paper using a permanent marker.
Child drawing with a sharpie

2. Once their drawing is complete, offer watercolors, brushes, and water to paint over the drawing.

Final piece of art with sharpies marks and water color paint

How to Nurture the Natural Unfolding of the Child’s Identity During This Play Invitation

  • Children have the right to engage in genuine relationships. As a teacher, you can get involved in children’s work, offer feedback, respond, and add to children’s interests as ways to nurture the bond between you and them. Open conversations about the things you have in common, and the processes that are taking place with your group of children.
  • Children have the right to develop self-expression with open-ended explorations. Releasing any pre-determined expectations for children’s drawings empowers them to develop their identity, autonomy, respect for others, and belonging.

The Academic Learning Opportunities

  • LANGUAGE: Drawing is associated with language because of the use of symbols, which comes before the development of writing and reading skills.
  • SOCIAL: Discovery of oneself, one’s own identity, and an awareness of belonging in a group.
  • SCIENCE: Acknowledging differences between transparent and opaque.


  • Explore transparent, translucent, and opaque objects over a light table or window.
  • Offer tracing paper and invite children to create a drawing in layers.

Book Recommendation

This is an amazing book that explores transparency and layers in a very creative way.