Monday, October 22, 2012

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Year Published: 1955
Author: Crockett Johnson
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1
Theme: Imagination and creativity
Skill Taught: Creative thinking

Summary: The story begins with Harold wanting to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon.  He draws a moon with his purple crayon to fix the dilemma.  While on his walk, Harold draws pies and an apple tree to satisfy his hunger, a little boat to sail away from a frightening dragon, and a mountain to climb to  find his bedroom window.  Eventually, he draws his bed and sheets, falling fast asleep.

About the Author: David Johnson Leisk was born on October 20, 1906 in New York City.  After studying at Cooper Union, he worked a number of jobs including in an ice plant, in the Macy' advertising department, a professional football league, and an art editor for several magazines.  Leisk used the pen name Crockett Johnson in his over twenty books in which he wrote and/or illustrated.  During his career, he and his wife collaborated together on four books, one of which was The Carrot Seed.  His first work was the popular comic-strip "Barnaby" which he wrote on a daily basis from 1942 to 1946.  On July 17, 1975, Crockett Johnson would pass away from lung cancer.  (

For the Classroom  

Pre-Reading Activity: Before our read aloud, I will begin with a class discussion exploring students' imagination, asking what they would draw if they had a purple crayon.  Another question posed would be what students are reminded of when they have looked up in the sky and stared at the clouds.  

Post Reading Activity: After reading Harold and the Purple Crayon, students would go back to their seats and receive cut-out shapes from purple construction paper.  The teacher will ask the class what each shape could represents in our world and give the example of a circle being a ball (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and oval).  They would use the shapes to create a picture from their imagination.  The shapes can be cut smaller and modified to fit their imagination.  Students will arrange their final ideas on black construction paper and be checked by a teacher before gluing.  When students have glued down their shapes, they can use purple crayons, markers, and pastels to draw themselves and details to enhance their artwork.  when the class has completed the assignment, students will explain their picture to a student sitting next to them.     

Reflection: I liked the meaning behind the story in Harold and the Purple Crayon and what it teaches to students.  It provides an example to students of the power of imagination and how individuals can affect the world around them.  It nicely teaches the word perseverance, a difficult word for students ages three to seven to comprehend.  Harold uses examples to teach students that they should have the confidence to "draw" themselves out of any dilemma.

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  1. This is a great book! I have never used it in the classroom, but have read it many times with my own kids. I love your post-reading activity. It would be interesting to see what the kids would make with the shapes!