Saturday, November 12, 2016

Developing an appreciation of pencils

Yesterday I posted a picture of this.


No, I have not lost my mind... yet. Yes, I actually bought waterproof India ink on purpose and voluntarily brought it into my house. And this is from someone who has a long-standing no red punch or juice rule. Sometimes the rules change when it is going to be 'educational'. 

A little bit ago we read a biography about Robert Fulton. (You know, the guy who invented the steam ship.) Everyone really enjoyed it and some of the things mentioned in the book caught their interest. Since due to things such as the World Series and elections and such, our schedule had gotten a bit off, so I needed an extra Friday activity. I decided to take advantage of their interest in the Fulton biography and make use of it. 

In the book, it was described how he made a pencil and what a big deal a pencil was. We had to stop at this point and spend some time discussion pencils and pens and quills and why a pencil would be such a wondrous object. I don't know about you, but pencils are taken for granted much of the time around here. Well, except by me when I need to write down a phone message and all I can find is a crayon, but I'm often the exception. Having had this long discussion about writing implements, I turned it into an activity.

We had some feathers left over from when we were specifically studying them and we turned them into quills. (It was a good thing we had feathers left over. It turns out you cannot just walk into the art store, ask for turkey feathers, and a) either be taken seriously or b) be able to find any. I tried.) We took scissors and knives and trimmed and cut them just as the instructions I found told us to. Of course, the quills do no good without ink, which is where the ink came in. I was probably a little more careful than I needed to be, but my kitchen survived and is happily ink-free.



The quills actually worked. Some people really enjoyed the sound they made when used for writing and others squirmed the whole time at the sound.





Now, this was not the only fun we were having. Also in the biography, it described how his mother at one point baked a whole pumpkin and how much everyone enjoyed eating the spiced pumpkin out of it. People kept mentioning that they wished we could try it. So we did. I had to kind of make it up, but essentially we cleaned out the pie pumpkin, added the usual pumpkin pie-type spices and baked it in the oven for an hour and half. It smelled great while we were working with our quills.



Now, not only did we talk about quills in our earlier discussion of writing implements, we talked about pens as well. While I didn't find feathers at the art store, I did find these really inexpensive dipping pens. I thought it would be interesting to try them as well.

This is my photo.

This is TM's photo who claimed mine wasn't artsy enough. I think he was correct and I should hand him the camera right from the start.

The dipping pens and quills turned out to be equally easy to use, but the older people liked the extremely thin lines they could draw with the dipping pens as opposed to the quills.


I had thought about having them do some sort of assigned drawing with the pens, but in the end they were happiest just doodling. So that's what we did.


The pumpkin was done just as we were finishing. It had cooked well and smelled good and everyone eagerly tried a bite to discover it tasted like.... SQUASH! It was as though I had pulled the ultimate bait-and-switch on them. The masses were not entirely happy. I think they were imagining the pumpkin somehow transforming in the oven into pumpkin pie. It was a great disappointment. Don't worry, the pumpkin will get used to bake pumpkin muffins or some such thing.

1 comment:

Ann said...

The canned pumpkin in stores (Libby's, etc.) is butternut squash! Members of the squash family are so interrelated that in the trade, the words "pumpkin" and "squash" are both okay to use.

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