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Crayon Sharpening Exercise

Kelly Mannning of Horseshoe, North Carolina shares her original project for her UMA Practical Life assignment. 


  1. Large Tray
  2. Smaller tray holding: 
    • 3 different colored large crayons with marked lines (permanent marker used)
    • 1/2" painters brush
    • Small folded cardstock "dustpan" (for picking up spilled shavings)
  3. Small bowl holding large-holed pencil sharpener
  4. 3 small jars, marked with colored sticker to match crayon color

Point of Interest:

  1. Colors of crayons
  2. Creating shavings
  3. Seeing the colorful shavings inside the glass 

Control of Error:

  1. Black line on crayon
  2. Colored sticker on jar
  3. See-through glass jar to view the color of the shavings


  1. Order of procedure
  2. Decision making
  3. Hand-eye coordination
  4. Fine –muscle skill
  5. Building upon prior work of opening jar lids
  6. Building upon prior work of sweeping
  7. Independence with skill of sharpening writing/drawing apparatus
  8. Concentration
  9. Self confidence
  10. Satisfactory and appealing work cycle
  11. Indirect Language: left to right movement
  12. Indirect Sensorial: color recognition/matching

What I learned from creating this original project:

I shopped around trying to find a pencil sharpener with a clear container so the child could see the color of shavings more clearly, but I was unable to find one.  Also, it may take several tries to find a sharpener that will sharpen the crayon easily and not cause the tip of the crayon to break off in the sharpener- that could be very frustrating and we don’t want children putting their fingers in the sharpener.  From my trials, it seems that when you can place the crayon straight into sharpener it rarely, and for me, never broke off.  It takes a lot of working the process through to make sure that the work cycle is successful.  I also found that the sharpener had to have enough empty space around the actual blade and the side of the container that holds the shavings so that the shavings could fall down off the blade easily.

 What I learned from demonstrating this activity:

I learned about the importance of emphasizing and slowing down each step of the exercise.  I have to take a breath and wait for those spaces of time to let her take in the enticement of the activity.  I had to work out the work cycle many times before I showed her so that the demonstration would go smoothly.  It is surprising how much thought has to go into all the steps to clearly and simply achieve the desired results. 

What I learned from the child's responseEven though this seems like a simple activity, it was very appealing to my almost 6 year old daughter.  Since I demonstrated this to my own child, she saw some of the process of creating this work she and was completely drawn to it.  I would leave it on my worktable and she would come and tear the paper of new crayons and prepare them by marking them with the black line.  Once I came back to it and she had the whole pack of crayons ready to go!  I didn’t expect her level of interest and participation.   We enjoyed a lot of conversation about how wax works and melts during our extension exercises. I am truly understanding the value of the many steps in a single piece of work and how challenging it is for the child to think through the steps to complete the whole process.  There is a lot of reasoning skills that the child is faced with.

Final note:

Because she is older, we went on to some extension crafts that she really enjoyed.  First we placed shavings on contact paper and then she learned how to peel and stick the two together.  We also melted some shavings in between two pieces of wax paper with an iron and when cool she cut them into shapes of leaves that we had previously collected.  

Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

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References (2)

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    Response: linked web-site
    Montessori Teacher Certification, Montessori Teacher Training, Online Teacher Certification - Blog - Crayon Sharpening Exercise
  • Response
    Response: muscle Building
    Montessori Teacher Certification, Montessori Teacher Training, Online Teacher Certification - Blog - Crayon Sharpening Exercise

Reader Comments (1)

Well I think you made a great post. You also wrote about the benefits that you get from this crayon sharpening exercise project. This is such a good reading.

From, Blaine

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlaine

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