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Forests Grow Pencils

Wood to make pencils is harvested from forests. Discover how pencils have an environmental impact—and why reforested wood is a greener choice.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Students learn about pencil manufacturing. Look closely at any pencil to see its parts: painted wooden barrel, a core of lead or color, and sometimes a metal-crimped eraser. Most pencils today are made from the incense cedar tree. Pencil manufacturers who care about the future of rainforests and the world’s environment now use reforested wood. Learn more about the environmental impact this choice has, and why Crayola Colored Pencils are made with reforested wood.
    2. To make pencils, trees are cut into grooved slabs. Lines of color are inserted into the grooves. Slabs are sandwiched together and then milled into pencils. An eraser is attached with a ferrule. Students find out more details about this fascinating manufacturing process so they can prepare a step-by-step visual presentation.
    3. Students show what they learned about the manufacturing process. Fold stiff paper into an accordion book that stands up. For each panel, use colorful paper to make cutouts with Crayola Scissors to illustrate one part of the pencil-manufacturing process. Start with a stand of incense cedars.
    4. Attach illustrations to each page with a Crayola Glue Stick. Draw cutout details and write explanations for each step with your colored pencils. Students use their book to explain the pencil-making process to other students or their family.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Offer causal explanations appropriate to level of scientific knowledge.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Have a variety of pencils available for students to view. How simple are the designs? Are some more involved than others? Which do you prefer to work with? Can you describe why?

    How are colored pencils made? Have students research this process and be prepared to report on it to classmates.

    Pencils are now made with non-toxic graphite and clay rather than lead. Encourage students to learn more about graphite and how a graphite pencil can conduct electricity.

    What are the origins of the word "pencil?" Students research its roots and what other words have been derived from this word.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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