In the book The Crayon Box That Talked each crayon in the box radiated self-importance by putting others down. A child taught them by example that together they can make a more beautiful picture than any one can alone. This book hits at the heart of discrimination of any type. Eventually, the crayons watched as the child created a palate of harmony out of cantankerous diversity.
Using Modeling to Teach Behavior and Social Skills
With sticky notes, have the students write briefly how the child changed their behavior. Discuss that it wasn’t with lecturing, punishing, or disapproving. After the notes are collected, display them in a center where children will problem-solve on how to deal with difficult behaviors of others. The students can role-play ways to model without moralizing with a partner.
Setting up a Classroom for a Diversity Unit
- Lay out several books including the Tacky The Penguin series at a reading center.
- Set up an art center where students fold paper into several boxes, then draw a face on each one. Make each face different in some way. Write a caption under each telling one good trait of that face.
Teaching Point of View with The Crayon Box That Talked
The point of view skill involves being able to describe, then appreciate, the individual qualities of others. Only then can a child understand how groups team up to function as a whole.
A helpful writing assignment would be to have children write a narrative about the journey through the book of one particular color. This could be presented as a story on construction paper folded in half hamburger style like a book. It could be decorated completely in the one chosen color. Then place the lined paper story on one side and add a one-color picture on the other half.
Later, after a class discussion about how each color and story was special, make a bulletin board using all of the colors while talking about how many colors make life even richer.
A similar activity can be presented on sentence strips, written by students or teacher, and used in a center or anchor activity. To extend the activity, add the curriculum skill of sequence by having the students put the sentences together, then put the sentences in the order of the story. Some students benefit from being allowed to use the book during this activity.
Additional Writing Assignments for Shane DeRolf’s Book
Let kids design an alternate ending which might have happened if the child had not taken the crayon box home and made the beautiful picture. Explain that this could be a sad story. Discuss in class how the child made a difference in the future of each crayon.
Using The Crayon Box That Talked to Teach Skill of Compare and Contrast
Using construction or other paper folded in half, students may choose two colors, listing the individual traits of each using words or phrases (e.g. bright) in two separate lists. This character description gives a chance to reinforce the part of speech concept of adjectives. While looking at the two lists, write sentences below which point out the differences in the two crayons. Label this part Contrast.
Then make another list of the traits the two crayons have in common (e.g. each can make a part of a picture) to show how the two crayons are the same. Write sentences below which point out the sameness of the two. Label this part Compare.
To enhance this assignment, write a prescription for what the colors could do together. It could include what they would do with the time they used to spend talking badly about the other colors. There can even be discussion of personification here.
Teachers and parents can use The Crayon Box That Talked to teach acceptance of diversity, understanding of modeling, as well as curriculum skills of adjectives, sequence, point of view, and compare and contrast. Besides all that, the book is fun to read and the lesson is catching!
Reference: DeRolf, Shane. The Crayon Box That Talked. New York: Random House, 1997.