Collaborative Crayon Stories

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This lesson is a great lesson for any primary classroom. It is simple, quick, and uses materials that are easy to find. The only tricky part is acquiring the book. In Vancouver, this book seems to be everywhere, so I hope that proves to be no problem as well. It’s perfect for getting creative juices flowing, and using as a starting point for Language Arts activities to follow (see below.) 

I love starting primary lessons with a story book. I have been building my library of elementary art books for a couple of years now (slowly, because I was a starving student until fairly recently). Art books are my favourite thing to get as a gift, and I hope to share many of them on this blog! Readers, any recommendations would be more than welcome! 

Materials:

  • “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt
  • Crayons
  • Large pieces of cartridge paper (18×24)

Part 1: Story Time!

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We read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This book is a compilation of letters addressed to a boy named Duncan from his crayons, all of whom have very strong feelings about the way they should be used. Spoiler Alert! At the end, Duncan makes a picture with his crayons with their feelings in mind, and gets an A+ for creativity.

 

Part 2: Collaborative Drawing

Instructions given: In pairs, on large sheets of paper, draw a picture keeping in mind the feelings of the crayons in the book. For example, what colour are you going to make the sun, in order to keep both Orange and Yellow happy? (Orange and Yellow both felt they should be the colour of the sun.) Be as creative as possible!

You may choose to circulate while your students work and have them tell you a story about their drawing. We did, and the results were awesome.

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“Our story is basically about a jungle and everywhere in the jungle there are weird things and weird people. The jungle is in outer space. Everything there floats. There are rain clouds that drop brown chocolate raindrops. It is basically a candy coloured jungle. Aliens come to see the scenery and to eat candy flavoured flowers. There is a village that has very happy trees. They have smiley faces and can talk. A long time ago space created aliens and space was without candy and without anybody there. It was boring. So there was a source of candy and aliens to make the place more cheerful. Every day chocolate flavoured raindrops and they make big chocolate puddles for aliens to jump in. In this world, everything is made out of candy and awkward things. Rocks are puffy, turtles have ears on the top of their head, the ocean is floating in the air (it is yellow). There is even a fish with a suitcase and a hat on! Fishes have mohawks and strange aliens from Star Wars (the second movie) come to visit. The sun is orange and yellow because it would be too boring if it was a different colour. The reason the sun is these colours is so that people can lick it like a limesicle.”

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“This is a magical flying boat. There is a little girl who is going on an adventure with her puppy on a magical boat. She sees pink water and a whale that different colours on it also. There is a rainbow that is different from the colours she learned in school. She has a wonderful time in there, until she crashes. They had to go on a very dangerous thing. There was a fireball on a shooting star. There was a shark and it died. The shark is in a glass container. It stays in there because it died. The boat takes her home and she is happy. She wrote a story about her adventure, just like us. She showed it to her father and her mother who said, “Where have you been for these weeks?” She said, “You’ll find out” and she took them on the journey.”

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“This car is driving on water and it is not even a water car! And, it is still okay when it drives through rocks. It is like a house car. The rocks are red and the water is green and yellow.The mountains are turquoise and red and pink and purple. The stars are rainbow stars. I have two pink clouds with grey rain coming down. I have two fish. One is a blue fish with a orange mouth and a purple eye and the other is a black fish with a yellow mouth and a blue eye.”

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E: There are two ladies falling out of their planes. C: They’re going on a trip and they’re going skydiving and they want to find interesting places, so they find a colourful world, so they jump down and see a mermaid and different types of fish E: …and a weird whale! C: And then people in another plane see them falling out of the plane and they say “hey!” E: They see the sun and they’re like, “Woah, that’s a wack wack sun.”

Part 3: Follow-Up Activity (Language Arts)

Students blindly chose a crayon from a box, then wrote a letter to themselves from the point of view of the crayon. We asked: “How is your crayon feeling? What does it like? What does it not like?”

They wrote one page letters to themselves. Remarkably, they seemed to pick up on the patterns from Daywalt’s writing in the story – most of them independently signed the letters, “your (adjective) friend, (colour) crayon.” Next time I would add this to the criteria for everyone.

Possible Criteria for Follow-Up Activity:

  • Write a letter to yourself from the point of view of your crayon
  • Sign your letter, “your ____________ friend, __________ crayon” *

*This is a good lesson to introduce letter writing language, so if students don’t already know what “signing a letter” is, now is a great time to teach them! Make sure you give examples from the book of adjectives they could use in the closing sentence. Ask them to suggest other adjectives they could use to describe how someone might be feeling.

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