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Waves of Radios

What was the family entertainment center in the early 1900s? A radio! Trace the growth of this fascinating invention and recreate a colorful slice of communication history.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Picture a family gathered around the radio. In the early 1900s, radios changed society just as TV did later in the century. For the first time, people received news rapidly thanks to radio. Entertainment was also at people's fingertips.
    2. Research the advances in technology that led to the sudden growth and popularity of radio in the 1920s. Follow the growth of radio from the mammoth, cumbersome machines of a century ago to the tiny earphones of today. Find pictures of various styles of radios.
    3. With Crayola® Colored Pencils or Color Sticks, sketch a radio tower on construction paper. Use a compass to draw concentric circles emanating from the top of the tower to simulate radio waves. Use Color Sticks to color the lines of your circles and the background of your scene.
    4. Color several narrow craft sticks. Use a Crayola Glue Stick to attach the craft sticks to the paper to form a radio tower.
    5. On more construction paper, draw and color various radio styles from different eras of history. Cut them out with Crayola Scissors. Attach them in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement around the tower.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to grade level.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    SS: Demonstrate an ability to use correctly vocabulary associated with time such as past, present, future, and long ago; read and construct simple timelines; identify examples of change; and recognize examples of cause and effect relationships.

    SS: Explore the role of technology in communications, transportation, information-processing, weapons development, or other areas as it contributes to or helps resolve conflicts.

    VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resource includes: Guglielmo Marconi and Radio Waves (Uncharted, Unexplored, and Unexplained) by Susan Zannos

    Students investigate Guglielmo Marconi and his connection to radio waves. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.

    Invite students to examine the history of computers, televisions, telephones, or cell phones in a similar manner. How did each of these technological advancement change human communication?

    Students organize a timeline of broadcasting and/or entertainment historical events. Include 1-3 sentences summarizing the event

    Students listen to recordings of historic radio shows. Discuss with classmates how the language and style is similar to or different from radio reports today. Students write a script describing an historic event. Reenact the broadcast in the old-fashioned style of radio newscast delivery.


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