Students Make Pioneer Quill Pens with This History Themed Craft

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Do your students hate to write? Would they rather use the computer for all their written work? Show them how writing utensils have evolved by completing this history lesson plan using the information and instructions listed below.

What You’ll Need

The materials you will need for this project are:

  • Large feathers, such as turkey feathers. Try contacting a zoo or farm to see if you can obtain these free of cost.
  • Ink.
  • Old shirt sleeves.
  • Paper.
  • index cards.
  • A copy of an old, well written document such as the Declaration of Independence.

Read the following to your students:

Look at this copy of [insert document name here]. Do you see how beautiful the writing on this document is? Would you believe that writing was at one time considered a type of art? People worked hard to make their writing look graceful and well written. Do you like to write? How much do you enjoy your cursive writing lessons? Does your writing look like this?

Making Quill Pens

Years ago, in the pioneer world, there were no computers or plastic pens. People wrote with quills, or feathers dipped in ink! Today, most people don’t even hand write their letters anymore. most people communicate by email or instant messaging. Today we are going to write a letter as if we were pioneers. Let’s follow the instructions below to make and write this letter with quill pens!

  1. Assist students by slicing the feather so that it is at an angle. This will help to hold the ink and allow the students to write with the quill.
  2. Ask students to put on the old shirt sleeves. Ask students if they have ever seen movies that were set in the past where people were at a desk writing and had on white shirt sleeves over their shirt. Can they guess what that was for? The white shirt sleeves were to protect the writer’s clothes from the ink as they wrote with the quill pen!
  3. Explain and assist the students in dipping their “quills” into the ink, then writing the letter. Encourage them to make their cursive more fancy than they normally would.
  4. As the students write a line or two, use the index cards to blot the ink so that it does not pool and make the project any messier than it already may be!

This post is part of the series: Lesson Plans for a Pioneer Unit

Use these lesson plans in this series to teach your students about pioneers as part of your history curriculum.

  1. Make Jewelry Like the Pioneers Did: A History-Themed Craft Project
  2. Pioneer Quill Pen Craft for Students
  3. Pioneer Craft Homes