Episode 40: Having Fun Celebrating National Crayon Day

In this episode we share some lesson plan ideas and some great books about crayons and colors.

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids.

This Wednesday is National Crayon Day. So I thought today would be fun to look at a lot of books about crayons and colors. Before we get into the books I wanted to share today, I thought it would be fun with crayon day to talk about some lesson plans we can do across the curriculum since so many people are homeschooling right now. And so it would be fun to take the day and just have a little lesson that involves crayons and colors for each of the subject areas. I’m going to start with Bible. And of course, if you can read the story that I’m going to share with you today about broken crayons, then one of the scriptures in that story is “He makes all things beautiful in his time.” And that’s from Ecclesiastes. There are some great coloring pages for this particular scripture that then the children could color with their crayons. One of the coloring pages is simpler for younger children and a couple others I’m going to share are little more complicated for your older children. And so for Bible, I thought that would be good, to memorize that scripture, to use your crayons to color the pages, and then to hang those up and memorize that scripture this week.

For math, I think it’s fun to use crayons and on other days to use straws or any other item that you can rubber band together to talk about place value. Sometimes it’s hard for children to grasp the concept of ones and tens and hundreds. And so if you can group them together, then that can be a way that they can start to really grasp that concept of carrying the one and those kinds of things. And so you start with single crayons, you grouped together ten crayons, and then you would group together a hundred crayons. Of course, you’re going to have to buy a bunch of crayons to do this project. Maybe you could, for the hundreds, use a card that just says 100 and show a bunch of crayons for that. But having the actual ability to hold in your hands, the ones and the tens helps a lot. And if you’re just working with younger children, of course, that’s adequate. You don’t need to go to the hundreds to talk about carrying the one to the tens place. And then they can work on writing out the equations in crayon, on a paper and have the ones and the tens and show when they need to bundle another 10, because they’re carrying that one over.

For English I have several different ideas of what we could do. Of course, if you start with a book like Hailstones and Halibut Bones that I’ve shared before, it is a book of poetry about color; we could have the children write their own poems about color., I’ve shared that lesson plan before. Another possibility is to start with “The Adventures of ______, and let each child write the adventures of a certain color and make the main character that color or that crayon. And then to tell us what adventures that particular color is going to have. Why would that color have that adventure? I think that would be a lot of fun to write a little short story. Now that is about writing. If you’re also wanting to do a grammar lesson, you can simply have, if you’re doing the parts of speech, a worksheet with sentences written out, and then they can use a different color to underline or write the noun, trace the word for the noun or highlight it kind of with a light coloring over the word for each part of speech. So the noun could be red. The verb could be purple. The direct object could be pink. And so you could choose a color for each part of speech and review all those parts of speech and then have a different color for it, like prepositional phrase pronoun–for each part and review depending at what level your child is. So that would be a way to use colors and crayons for a fun grammar lesson.

For social studies, I’m going to be sharing about three books about the history of crayon making. And I would use one of those for social studies or history and talk about how we have many things in our world because someone saw a need, even though it wasn’t a need of life and death, it was a need. These books would be fun to share for history and then talk about inventions and talk about the manufacturing process. And so that would be really interesting for social studies and history.

For art, of course, we have lots of options for art. You could do a crayon scratching drawing, you know, where we color pretty dark with our crayons and just make blobs of color. And then you color over it with a pretty hard as well with a black crayon and then use a paperclip and scratch off the black to reveal a colorful picture. It’s almost like a mystery to reveal. I love drawing parrots on these kinds of pictures, because you wind up with such pretty feathers and colors for the bird. You could challenge your children to draw one of those. You could also melt crayons, which would also tie into science and talking about how the heat can change something that’s solid into a liquid. And then it comes back to a solid once it’s cooled down, and then you could color with those. Using a muffin tin or an egg carton, you can melt the crayons. And if it’s a really hot day, you can melt them out in the sun, which is a lot safer and more fun. And then a really creative idea is to use the book, No Crayons that I’m going to be sharing with you today and to let your children think about what would they do if they had no crayons, how would they create color? How would they paint or draw or whatever? And so they could talk about the different things they could use to create color in a picture without using crayons. Then, of course, you could also talk about mixing colors and creating new colors. If you only had a certain number of crayons, how would you create all the different colors? And so you could have a lot of fun with those kinds of concepts, for art, for science.

One of the key elements of science is observation. And we know that with the scientific method we teach observation. One of the activities that I used to do in my kindergarten/first grade classes was to simply observe a crayon: tell me everything you can tell me about that crayon. Then they would describe the paper, how it feels, you could bring in the five senses. And then in addition to that, if you want to go a little further with observation, give each child a color and then go on like a nature walk, go to the store, something like that, a little field trip, and have them find as many items of the color that they’re in charge of. And then have a time of sharing when you’re finished and you get back home. They could talk about all the different things they saw in their color, and this would encourage them to use their skills of observation.

I will put some links to some of these ideas or else a document that you can download for some of these activities because I’ve gone over them so quickly. But I hope you can have a lot of fun with these. Now let’s get into some of the great books I found that talk about crayons, and there are some really cute books out there about crayons. Surprisingly, they are often the main characters in the book.

There is a whole series of crayons stories from Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers as the illustrator. One of them is The Day the Crayons Quit, and each color of crayon is giving his excuse for why he is quitting. And it’s a very sad little story as they all complain and share. And then the follow-up to that is The Day the Crayons Came Home by the same author and illustrator. And they also have a Valentine’s story about crayons. That’s Love from the Crayons. And The Crayon Book of Colors and The Crayon Book of Numbers are also from this author. And they also have The Crayons Christmas. Drew also has The Crayons Book of Feelings. And he also has all his books in a set, including finger puppets that are like crayons. So that’s kind of a fun thing. So you can get the whole set of his books.

Then there’s a really cute book called The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane Derolf, and Michael Letzig is the illustrator. And it’s a really cute book about getting along with others and seeing the big picture and how each person has a part in making something happen. It helps us to learn to appreciate other’s contributions, even if they do things differently than we do.

And a really special book is called The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons. And this is by Natasha Biebow and illustrated by Steven Solerno. This tells the story of the inventor of the Crayola crayon. And he started out creating chalk, different pencils, and other things used for drawing. And then he made this crayon, and it worked so well and it was much nicer. And they said, we need more colors of crayons. And of course we know the story. Crayola has created so many different colors of crayons and has just opened our world up to creativity and color. So this is a really cute story. And by the way, his name is Edwin Binney, who is the inventor.

Now, when we’re talking about the man who started Crayola crayons, there are a couple other books you may be interested in. If your kids are interested in how crayons were created, it’s called From Wax to Crayon: Start to Finish, Second Series: Everyday Products by Robin Nelson. This book takes the child through the process of the creation of crayons.

And then there’s another really cool book called Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons by Dr. Arlyne Simon and illustrated by Diana NES good Les cue. And of course, Abby is Dr. Arlyne Simon. And actually on Amazon, you can get signed copies of the book from Dr. Simon’s e-commerce store. So that’s kind of a cool thing, but this is talking about how she invented unbreakable crayons and got a patent for it. And it introduces the kids to the scientific method. And it also comes with fun activity pages. So this is a really cute book and offers a lot along with it.

We can’t really do anything about crayons without including one of the original stories about crayons, which is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson who is the author and illustrator. I loved that book as a kid. I think it’s a great book, and there are several books in the series. You can actually get a boxed set of the books. Now there are several in the Harold series, and we have Harold’s ABC Purple Crayon book. There are six books in the boxed set. So there’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, A Picture for Harold’s Room, Harold’s ABC’s, Harold’s Circus, Harold’s Fairy Tales, and Harold’s Trip to the Sky, but there are several books by Crockett Johnson about Harold. There’s Harold at the North Pole, Harold’s Imagination, and Harold’s Treasure Hunt. So there’s quite a few stories in that series.

Now for a seriously goofy book, we have Pete the Cat: Crayons Rock, and it’s by James Dean and illustrated by Kimberly Dean. And if you’ve read any from the Pete, the Cat series, you know, they’re very silly books. It says, “Pete loves his big box of groovy crayons. He loves to draw things like cars, trucks, flowers, and trees. And most of all, the big blue sea. From rockin red to the cool cat blue, with a box of crayon, there’s nothing Pete can’t do. One day Pete decided to draw something new.” And it says he draws his friends. “Using lots of colors is so much fun. Pete wanted to use every one. He scribbled and drew a great big smile. His drawings were groovy and rockin with style.” So his friends, when they see the picture that he draws, they’re like, “Wow, way to go. Pete, that’s a rockin masterpiece.” It said “Even grumpy toed guests and Kelly agreed: Pete’s picture was off the charts. See, that’s the groovy thing about art. The best art comes from the heart. Crayons rock.” So it’s just a very cute, silly book about crayons. So I thought that was a fun one to include and to encourage your kids, to practice drawing and have fun with it.

There’s another story that is so adorable. It’s called A Day with No Crayons by Elizabeth Rush and illustrated by Chad Cameron. And this little girl gets in trouble. And so her mom takes her crayons away and she’s like a day with no crayons is like the worst in the world. And she’s grumpy and stomping around. And as she goes through her day, she starts to see all these different colors everywhere she goes, and she recognizes, well, that’s not, you know, sky blue, it’s this blue or whatever. But it uses all the different crayon names, especially from Crayola crayons. You recognize some of the names. It’s just such a cute, cute story. And I think it shows that even when things aren’t going the way we want them to, that we can find great things around us. If we’ll just open our eyes and quit complaining.

There’s a really sweet book called Broken Crayons Still Color: Hope-Filled Stories for Kids by Shelly Hitz and illustrated by Jennifer Waddle. And this one is really cute. It’s very short, and it has a Christian message to it as well. I really like this one. It’s very nice. And there are some other books written for adults by the same author, with the same title, Broken Crayons Still Color. And it’s talking about how God chooses those who we may consider broken or not the best. He chooses people and uses our lives to his glory and to change the world. And it doesn’t matter how broken we are. He can use our lives. So it’s got a really nice message, and it is definitely a Christian message for people.

And then I have a couple books that are some of my favorites that I just love. And I have shared one of these before. I don’t know if I shared the other one before. One of my favorites is Red: A Crayon Story by Michael Hall. And he’s the author illustrator. And this is the book where everybody’s telling the crayon he’s red, he’s red, he’s red. His label says red, the paper on him, says red, but he’s actually blue. And I feel like it’s such a great story for those who are dealing with children who have autism or other differences in their thinking and learning challenges that this book can really encourage them, that we don’t always have to fit into the mold and that God can use our lives. And he has created us special. Now this is not a Christian book, but there’s definitely that message through it.

And then another one that I just love is This Book Is Gray. This book is by Lindsay ward. In this book it’s not exactly crayons. It’s like little crayon tops. They’re all little triangles of color, but they’re coloring things. So it makes me think of crayons, and it’s dealing with color, but it’s, This Book Is Gray, and it’s the gray color who’s complaining no one ever wants to include him in their pictures. And yet gray is a color too. And they act like gray is a non-color. He tells his story because the whole book is going to be gray. So he tells his story, “Once upon a time there lived a wolf, a kitten, and a hippo.” Of course, they’re all gray, but then the other colors keep interrupting his story and bring in their colors. And eventually they all agree that gray is a color, and they all are included in the picture to make it a full color picture. So it’s just a really cute story, but I love it because those who are feeling left out in our lives should be welcomed in and their contributions celebrated.

For our devotional today, I wanted to read Broken Crayons Still Color: Hope-Filled Stories for Kids, Book One that I mentioned a while ago. “One day two sisters named Emma and Sophia got to spend a fun afternoon with their aunt grace coloring pictures of their favorite fairytale princesses. They had everything spread out on the floor. When all of a sudden Bruno their energetic puppy came tearing through the room. ‘Oh no!’ Emma cried as the wild pup scattered pages everywhere. ‘Stop, Bruno!’ they shouted, but the clumsy puppy didn’t listen. Finally, they corralled him and put him outside. They looked at the mess he’d made and noticed that most of the crayons were broken. ‘Now we can’t finish coloring,’ said Sophia sadly. But their aunt Grace wasn’t discouraged. In fact, she used the broken crayons to finish coloring her picture of Cinderella. And the girls saw that it was beautiful. ‘Oh, Auntie,’ they exclaimed, ‘look at your coloring page. It’s so pretty.’ And grace just smiled and said, ‘See, broken crayons, still color.’ The girls looked at all the broken crayons that Bruno had stepped on. There were red ones and blue ones, every color you could imagine. And as they tried each one on the paper, they saw how even the most worn out crayons still colored.

That night when it was time for bed, Bruno came to tell them goodnight. He jumped on their beds, licking their faces and making them hide under the covers. Finally, they shooed him out of the room and begged Aunt Grace to tell them a story. So she told them about a man who lived far away in India. The man had two large pots that he used to carry water from the stream to his master’s house. Each pot was tied to the ends of a pole that he carried across the back of his neck. Now one of the pots was perfect and always carried the full amount of water, but the other pot was old and cracked. So it only carried half the amount of water. After two years, the broken pot felt so bad, it finally said to the man, ‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.’ ‘Apologize?’ said the man, ‘Whatever for?’ The broken pot replied, ‘For the past two years, I have only been able to carry half of my load. I am old and broken and I have failed you.’ The man felt sorry for the poor broken pot and in his compassion, he said, ‘As we go back to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.’ So as they went up the Hill, the pot saw, for the first time, the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, the men said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that the flowers were only on your side of the path, but not on the perfect pot side? That’s because I planted flower seeds there for you to water every day, as we walked from the stream to the master’s house. Without you, there would be no beautiful flowers to grace his table.’ When the story was over, the girls were very quiet. Then Emma exclaimed, that story of the broken pot is just like the broken crayons. Aunt Grace smiled and nodded. Then she told them the most important lesson of all, ‘God can take our biggest mistakes and turn them into something good, no matter what always remember that you can take your failures to him. He loves you, and he will make something beautiful in his time.’ The girls hugged their auntie goodnight. And as she left the room, she heard Sophia whisper, ‘Broken crayons really do still color.'” And then it has a prayer: “Dear God, thank you for being there to listen. When I feel bad about my mistakes, I know that you forgive me and love me. Please help me to trust you more. I give you my struggles today, knowing that you can turn them into something beautiful. In Jesus name I pray, amen.” And then a verse to remember: Isaiah 61:1, “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Thank you for joining us today for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions. I hope these books have blessed you and that it will open up many great conversations with your kids and some fun times talking about crayons this week. Remember you can sign up for my mailing list at my website, TerrieHellardBrown.com. When you sign up, you receive several free products that are only available to my mailing list.

Links for coloring pages:




Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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