Second Article Published in UNIMA-USA’s E-newsletter

It is exciting to share that UNIMA-USA published another article of mine in the fall issue of their member’s only quarterly e-newsletter (many thanks to Laurie Swygert at UNIMA-USA)! Check it out here too:

“When students are involved with making crankies in teams they talk with one another and negotiate about what words and pictures to include and develop relationship skills naturally in that process.” – Elizabeth Evans, elementary school teacher and librarian

“Crankies are a great teaching medium because they offer children many ways to learn – tactile, visual, and auditory. It is though using the senses that real learning takes place.” – Deborah Sudduth, retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Enchanting Powers of Crankies in the Classroom

Attention-getting and focus-keeping are just two of a Crankie’s notable classroom powers.

A crankie – an illustrated scroll attached to two spools that is hand-cranked in a box – initially grabs attention by simply being what it is, a handmade and old-fashioned tool for story telling. The moving scroll keeps the students rapt.

To witness these powers in action, a simple way to start is to make a ready-to-use crankie and ask your students who would like to narrate what is written on the scroll, crank the crankie, and even ask and answer questions along the way. You’ll get lots of raised hands and students can take turns at each role.

Understanding that it’s a lot to prepare yet one more thing for class, another idea is to let the students make their own and benefit from additional crankie super powers by developing their writing, drawing, storytelling, team building, and communication skills while learning and sharing what they learn.

At a middle-school workshop, our job was further student’s understanding of a set of six values. After we provided a brief overview, the students divided into six groups of three or four and blindly chose one of the values from a hat. Their task: make a two-minute illustrated crankie scroll explaining what their chosen value means. They had about an hour to brainstorm ideas, make storyboards, illustrate, and practice their story – and they did it, brilliantly! All were entirely unique, wildly creative, some humorous, others serious, and they all demonstrated the students’ strong understanding of their subject. The outcome was beyond our expectations – the students had fun and even stirred up spirited debate.

There are many ways to use a crankie in the classroom from simple and inexpensive to complex and multi-faceted. For more information, please email me at

Educators: It’s just too easy and too much fun not to try crankies in the classroom at least once!