Writing with a Quill Pen
On September 17, 1787, our founding fathers used quill pens (made of swan, goose, or turkey feathers) to sign the US Constitution. In this activity, your child can go back in time and experience what it was like to sign this historic document by writing with his own homemade quill pens. As he writes, he'll practice his penmanship and develop his fine motor skills. Don't worry if he's a little frustrated at first—keeping your penmanship neat is hard enough with a regular ball point pen, but a quill pen requires a little extra patience and practice.
What You Need:
- 2-3 craft feathers, medium-sized with thick tips
- Washable black paint
- Plastic tray or bowl (to hold the paint)
- Razor blade (for adult use only, of course)
What You Do:
- Before the feathers can be used for writing, you'll need to sharpen the tips. The founding fathers used knives to sharpen their quill pens, but you can use a razor blade to carefully whittle down the tips of the feathers to make them smooth.
- Squirt a small amount of the black paint onto the plastic tray or bowl. You'll use the black paint as ink. Stir it around a few times to see if it is a good consistency for writing. Add water if it is too thick.
- Now it's time to write! Have your child dip one of the quill pens in the black paint and begin by writing his name on the paper. Just like our founding fathers, he will have to dip the quill into the paint several times over the course of writing to keep the pen inked.
- Ask your child how he likes writing with the quill pen. How does it compare to writing with a ball point pen?
- Experiment with the other feather pens to see if one is easier to use than another. Which one does your child like best?
- Once your child is finished writing, have him glue his favorite quill pen to the paper, then pick a good spot in the house to display his work. Hang it up, and enjoy!