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Happy Birthday to The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow!

What makes this book lovable?

  • You’ll be tickled pink by the author’s descriptive language.
  • You certainly won’t feel blue as you enjoy the vibrant illustrations.
  • You may be macaroni & cheesin’ about the “How To” writing that highlights how modern-day crayons are made.

Exactly one year ago today (March 19, 2019) The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons added color to our world! In Tammy Mulligan’s #NF10for10 post, she shared “I love how this book helps students understand that behind every item in their lives, there is an inventor.” I wholeheartedly agree. 4Q and I are circling back to share a bit more about this biography.

Before reading on, enjoy Natascha Biebow reading her masterpiece aloud on KidLit TV!

We launched this #MeetSomeoneNewMonday reading adventure with this video, which helped us understand the historical timeline behind Crayola.

Let’s begin by noticing what the author is doing to keep us interested. Put your craft lenses on!”

  • The author presents problems and explains the solutions.
  • There is (literally) colorful language.
  • Fact boxes are shared with a teaching voice.
  • We spotted onomatopoeia.
  • Questions are asked and sometimes answered.

During read aloud time, I invited my readers to jot in their reading notebooks with crayons. Why not, right?! Here are some of the colorful ideas they shared:

We paused to discuss the extra text offered on several pages. Fourth graders noticed the “fun facts” that were offered outside of the narrative of Edwin Binney’s life. This was a great reminder of storytelling voice vs. teaching voice. Check out some of the expert vocabulary below!

Brown School’s art teacher, Mrs. Parven (@BrownArtRoom), and I had been secretly planning an extra art class for 4Q in connection to this read aloud. Due to school closures, that plan is on hold, and we’ve decided to team up in a different way. Here are some activities for young writers and artists to try at home!

For Storytellers & Poets:

  • Write a silly story featuring a crayon as your main character! You can use this story arc planner to bring your ideas to life:
Don’t forget that every character has a motivation & problem! What might your crayon want? What is standing in the way of them getting or accomplishing that? How might they try to solve that problem? How will that problem finally get solved? What happens at the end of your story as a result of the solution?
  • Create a FOUND POEM using words around the house! Okay, word collectors. Are you ready? Gather up some resources such as books, newspapers, mail, food packaging- anything that has words can help you!

Step 1: Go on a scavenger hunt with the resources you collected. I tried this with The Crayon Man book. Collect words and phrases that speak to your heart and mind. You might write them down and circle them on a page like I did.

Step 2: Decide on your topic. Is there a topic that might make sense to write about based on the words and phrases in your collection? I chose kindness.

Step 3: Let your heart lead the way. Create lines of your poem using the words you found in your scavenger hunt. Do you notice how I added my own language in between? Do you notice how I adjusted the way some phrases were said? I underlined the phrases from my scavenger hunt collection throughout the poem. You can study how I brought them to life in my writing then try it on your own!

For Eager Artists:

  • Marble crayon melting!  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and have an adult pre-heat the oven to 275.  Peel the labels off of old or broken crayons. Put a mixture of crayons in each muffin cup and “bake” for about 20 minutes, until they are liquified. Have an adult take the tray out and be careful as the wax will be hot!  Use a toothpick to swirl the colors together.  Let cool completely, pop out of the tin and enjoy!
  • Design your own crayon sculpture!  Use a paper towel tube and some cardboard for the tip and tape together to “build” a crayon structure.  If you have paint, use it to paint the tip your desired color.  Make a label out of paper, design the label and wrap around the tube.  Voila!
  • Crayon Resist Art!  Since crayons are made out of wax, they resist water-based items like paint.  Draw a picture or just some abstract designs with crayon, pressing hard.  Paint over with watercolor paint and watch your drawing magically “show up” through the paint.  Don’t have watercolor?  You can make your own by soaking an old or dry marker in a small cup of water (you can put more than one marker in, as long as its the same color, for a stronger pigment).  Let sit for about an hour – the water will absorb the color from the marker to make watercolor paint! 

Happy Creating!

Miss Quimby & Mrs. Parven

1 thought on “Happy Birthday to The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow!”

  1. Well, Miss Quimby you’ve done it again! Supporting your readers and writers in such beautiful ways. This book clearly has interesting and sophisticated vocabulary as you point out with the fact boxes.
    The students insights and ideas written in crayon are so wise.
    Kudos to your creative at-home ideas! The scavenger hunt and poetry idea is perfect. You providing them with the skeleton- the arc for their own stories they can write at home is an example of supporting their literacy craft and imagination. I am sure you look forward to reading those.
    Well done collaborating with your art teacher colleague to provide some fun, creative art suggestions while everyone is homebound during this difficult time.

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