Elementary Programs Chapter

The Write Stuff!

Books To Share

  • Dear Max by Sally Grindley.
  • The Good-Luck Pencil by Diane Stanley.
  • A Pen Pal for Max by Gloria Rand.
  • Wax to Crayons by Inez Snyder.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth Barshaw.
  • Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton.
  • Frindle by Andrew Clements.
  • Hot Dog and Bob and the Particularly Pesky Attack of the Pencil People by L. Bob Rovetch.
  • Sahara Special by Esmé Raji Codell.
  • The Secret Life of School Supplies by Vicki Cobb.
  • Write Around the World: The Story of How and Why We Learned to Write by Vivian French and Ross Collins.


Write On!

Create a display of pens, pencils, markers, and other writing implements. Check the community for a collector who may have old-fashioned pens, inkwells, quills, pencils, and other items. Display with books about writing, writing implements, alphabets, and papermaking.


Use Ellison or other dies to create writing implements, such as a marking pen, pencils, crayons, and a crayon box. Cut out upper and lowercase letters, Chinese characters, Greek letters, Arabic letters, etc., using letter dies or stencils. Scatter the letters and items around the library, placing them on shelves or walls, or hang them from the ceiling with fishing wire.


Blue Ink Smoothies

This variation of a “purple cow” smoothie will look like ink to the children. For each smoothie, mix 1 cup of low-fat milk with one cup of sliced bananas. Add ½ cup of ice cubes and 1/3 cup of frozen grape juice concentrate that has been thawed. Blend until the mixture is frothy. Serve in a plastic cup.


Demco, www.demco.com, and other vendors sell book-shaped Bentcil® pens or pencils that are bent to create a shape. Demco also sells inexpensive reading promotion pencils that can be used as mementos of your program or to recognize participation.

Rhymes and Poetry

My Last Marker, With Apologies to Robert Browning (“My Last Duchess”)

(From I Must Go Down to the Beach Again by Karen Jo Shapiro. Copyright by Karen Jo Shapiro. Used with permission of Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.)

That’s my last marker in the drawer.

I once had seven markers more.

Black is leaking, Red is dried,

Yellow’s lost somewhere outside.

Brown spun through the washing machine.

Orange broke. The dog chewed Green.

Purple’s wet and works no more.

So, my last marker’s in that drawer.

If I had three or even two . . .

But now my world is all in Blue!

Audio Recordings

“Magic Pencil” on Just Say Uncle by the Uncle Brothers.

Reader’s Theater

Three Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Use the script, provided from Aaron Shepard’s Web Site at www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE32.html, from Louis Sachar’s book, Three Sideways Stories from Wayside School, to present a reader’s theater program. Pencils, crayons, counting, books, and notes all play a part in the stories.

Puppet Plays

Present “Dragon Draws a Picture,” a puppet show that explains the proper care of library books. The script and staging information are available in One-Person Puppet Plays by Denise Anton Wright. The book is available through NetLibrary, a TexShare resource.


Tell the story, “How the First Letter Was Written” by Rudyard Kipling. It is included in collections of his Just So Stories. It is in the public domain and is also available on the Internet at sites like The Literature Network, www.on-line-literature.com/.


“The pen is mightier than the sword.” - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Riddles and Jokes

(By Jeanette Larson.)

Q. What did the pig use to write a note?

A. Invisible oink!


Beaded Pens

  • Inexpensive straight-sided stick type ballpoint pens (e.g. Bic™)
  • 1.5 mm crystal or seed beads (one or more colors)
  • Industrial strength double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Shallow trays, such as Styrofoam meat trays
  • Thin metallic cord (optional)

In advance, remove the tops from the pens and discard them. To set up for the program, pour the crystal or seed beads into shallow trays, keeping the colors separate or mixing them for multi-colored beads. An industrial strength double-sided tape, sometimes called Red Liner tape, is ideal for this craft. If using other double-sided tape, experiment in advance to be sure that the beads stick securely.

Let each child cut a strip of tape to fit the pen, being careful to allow enough extra so that the ends of the tape meet securely or overlap slightly. The children then affix one side of the double-sided tape to the pen and carefully remove the protective paper lining from the second side. Remind the children to be careful not to touch the tape more than necessary. The children roll the pen in the beads, pressing firmly so that they adhere to the tape.

As a variation, provide thin metallic cord to wrap around parts of the pen, adhering the cord into the tape, before rolling the pen in the beads. This will provide a contrast for the beads.

Pencil Case

  • 9-inch cardboard mailing tubes with plastic end caps
  • Wallpaper samples, fabric, wrapping paper, and other coverings
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Paper clips or binder clips
  • Small stickers (optional)

In advance, purchase enough 9-inch cardboard mailing tubes with plastic end caps for each child to have one. Bulk tubes are available from Uline, www.uline.com. Remove the end caps from the tubes and set them aside. In advance, also gather fabric scraps, contact paper, fun fur, wallpaper samples, and other covering material. Allow each child to select a material to decorate his or her pencil case. The children use the ruler to measure a 9-inch length of material. They wrap the material around the tube and mark the spot where the tube has been completely wrapped and then trim the material so that it fits well. The children then cover the outside of the tube with glue and wrap the material around it, and use the paper or binder clips to hold the material in place until it has dried. They finish by decorating the end caps with stickers to personalize the pencil case.

Games and Activities

Use some of the experiments in The Secret Life of School Supplies by Vicki Cobb to demonstrate how writing implements work. For example, Paper Chromatography Analysis shows how various inks are analyzed.

Web-Based Activities

Write Your Name in Runes

The Museum of Natural History provides information about the Viking system of writing.  Visitors can translate their name or other words into runes.

Guest Speakers

Invite a calligrapher to demonstrate this art of fancy writing.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the children. Otherwise, display them for home use. The length listed is for the entire film.

  • Arthur Writes a Story. (15 minutes)
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon. (8 minutes)

Professional Resources

  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.
  • One-Person Puppet Plays by Denise Anton Wright.
  • The Secret Life of School Supplies by Vicki Cobb.
Aaron Shepard’s Web Site

Author and storyteller Aaron Shepard shares his scripts for reader’s theater and storytelling.


This library supplier sells a variety of inexpensive incentives.

The Literature Network

Works by over 250 authors are provided on-line.


This web site offers an introduction to more than 150 different writing systems, including fictional systems such as Vulcan, Romulan, and Cirth, the alphabet created by J. R. R. Tolkien.


This shipping supply company sells cardboard tubes and other materials at discounted prices.

Texas Reading Club 2008 Programming Manual / Texas Reading Club Jubilee: 1958-2008! / Texas Celebrates 50 Years of Reading

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011