Harold and the Purple Crayon Lesson Plan

I enjoy re-reading books that I once read as a kid with the Dumpling because I now get to see the story from an adult’s perspective. Almost 30 years after my first reading of “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” I was finally able to understand the abstract (and even dystopian) ideas in the book. To the Dumpling, however, it is understandably just a story about a baby doodling with a crayon. As I compiled our lesson plan, I decided to sneak in a few abstract discussions to see her response…

Click here to download “Harold and the Purple Crayon Lesson Plan.” Please note that the content was tailored specifically for my four year old, so it may not reflect typical classroom material for a kindergartner.

Administrative notes

I began using PowerPoint for the Dumpling’s Covid-19 homeschooling because I wanted to create custom games and interactive activity sheets without any coding knowledge. Since PowerPoint was not intended for such use, please note that there are limitations and extra behind-the-scenes work involved in using the file. I toggled between “normal” and “presentation” mode as I went through the deck. The drag/drop and draw functions needed to complete the activities were done in “normal” mode, where content is editable, so I was constantly on Ctrl + Z (“undo”) duty.

PowerPoint also did not automatically load the “Draw” toolbar for me if I did not have my drawing tablet connected. To manually pin this on, go into the “customize ribbon” settings and make sure “draw” is checked.

There is also a pen option in “slide show” mode located in the lower left corner; this is great for any drawing/tracing/writing activities but note that objects cannot be dragged/re-arranged here.

Lesson Details


The Dumpling and I reviewed what two colors make up purple and tested mixing different proportions of blue and red food coloring to create it.

Click here to download template.

As we experimented, I sneaked in a discussion on color symbolism and psychology. These were not new concept since we have a copy of Kathryn Otoshi’s One at home, so I was hopeful. I mentioned the commonly perceived associations of purple, such as “royalty”, “spirituality”, “magic”, and “creativity” but unfortunately lost her completely within seconds. She asked to “do her own thing” and emerged 30 minutes later with a glass of purple “wine” for me.


Harold literally creates his own reality with just a purple crayon and his wit, so I included a few drawing tutorials and a blank canvas for the Dumpling to release her imagination. These slides are best done using the pen function in presentation mode so that the timing of the animated steps can be controlled.


Because I always get shafted when sharing food with the Dumpling, I thought teaching fraction would be a path to more equally divided portions. As a side project, we made pies out of play dough and practiced slicing them into halves, thirds, and quarters.


We reviewed consonants, blends, and digraphs sounds.

Story Map

The Dumpling used to be all over the place whenever she told stories, so we practiced recounting events in sequential order.

Critical Thinking

Since the book blurs the line between reality and make-believe, I included a few choices to reflect this duality. There was no “wrong” answer as long as the Dumpling explained how a selected item could be used to perform the task. Her answers did not disappoint; she called on magical creatures to her aid and opted to shoot herself across the ocean on an arrow.

Reality vs Make-Belief

Having a philosophical discussion with a four year old was trippy, but interesting nonetheless. According to the Dumpling, her drawings are not real because they are just pictures.

When questioned about her sketch of something that made her happy (stick figure of her dad), however, she said that was real. From what I could gather, only drawings of people, places, or things that she had direct experiences with could be considered real.

I then asked what about Harold’s doodles? She replied, “Harold’s adventure was make-believe but also real, because of magic!”


We’re Going On A Bear Hunt Lesson Plan

I have been homeschooling the Dumpling since February due to Covid-19 school closures, and playing teacher has been one of my toughest (and to be honest, crappiest) SAHM tasks.

With the Dumpling resisting me every step of the way, I have bribed, threatened, pleaded, yelled, and gave up countless times in the last three months…only to renew my efforts the following day. Under different circumstances, I would have aborted mission completely and just let the Dumpling enjoy her days off — she should be playing with her friends and exploring the great outdoors. Everyone, unfortunately, is stuck at home; everything is cancelled; and I was going mad listening to Blippi on YouTube all day.

The first thing I did was enforced a daily routine and dedicated a slot every afternoon for our “classes”. Secondly I stopped following the school’s curriculum because I am unable teach the way her teachers teach. Instead I prepared my own lesson plans and activity sheets using a tool that I am familiar with — PowerPoint.

I like being able to easily customize the content to the Dumpling’s interest and progress. It took a few days for her to get adjusted to using a mouse and drawing tablet, but she loved the interactive aspect once she got the hang of it. The downside was that we were working in an editable mode within PowerPoint (more on this below), so the Dumpling would sometimes accidentally change things on the slide. As a result, I was constantly on Ctrl + Z (undo) duty.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

The first deck I prepared was a lesson for “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. Its content was tailored specifically for the Dumpling, so it may not reflect typical classroom material for a kindergartner. It took us about a week to go through the slides, sometimes the same ones on repeat across several days.

Click here to download | For personal and educational use only.
Font download: Raleway

Before diving into the content, here are a few administrative tasks I did on the sidelines:

Throughout our lessons, I toggled between “normal” and “slide show” mode. Activity slides were completed in “normal” mode, so that the Dumpling could draw/write or drag/drop objects. It is important to note that these functions can only be done in “normal” mode, where content is editable.

PowerPoint did not automatically load the “Draw” toolbar for me if I did not have my drawing tablet connected. To manually pin this on, go into the “customize ribbon” settings and make sure “draw” is checked.

There is also a pen option in “slide show” mode, but note that objects cannot be re-arranged here to complete most of the activity slides.

Slide Details


We discussed how to read a map and its major components, such as the title, legend, scale, and compass. Thanks to Blippi, the Dumpling already knew what a compass is along with the cardinal directions.

As a side project, I magnetized a pin and floated it on water to show the Dumpling how one works. The pin head pointed to north no matter where it was moved — as verified by the placement of the morning sun and our compass app!

Click here for tutorial.


The story text contains many opportunity to introduce digraph (sh, ch) and blend sounds (sp/spl, sq, st, sw, tr).

Story Mapping

The Dumpling used to be all over the place whenever she told stories, so we practiced recounting events in sequential order.


As part of building up her storytelling skills, I encouraged her to use more adjectives. We reviewed the descriptions the author used for each destination, and I asked the Dumpling if she could think of others.


We reviewed “over”, “under”, and “through”.


I have included a maze, word search, image arrangement, and pattern completion activity throughout the deck to keep the sessions interactive. There were certain puzzles that the Dumpling wanted to do more of, so I made additional versions that are included as extra slides in the back.

Edit (June 6, 2020): Mazes were replaced.

Journey Into Our Solar System: A Tunnel Book

As part of our homeschooling curriculum, the Dumpling and I have been learning about space the last few weeks. When I say homeschool, I really mean watching YouTube videos on the subject…the same ones over and over and over again. Repetition is key, folks! Even better if the information is in a song.

For the art and craft portion for our theme, we made a tunnel book of the solar system. I was inspired after seeing one on Pinterest, but it had no tutorials so I’m sharing mine.

According to Wonderpolis.org:

“Tunnel books are made up of a series of pages that are held together by folded strips of paper on each side. In fact, the sides of a tunnel book might make you think of an accordion. The overall effect of a tunnel book is to create the illusion of depth and perspective.

Tunnel books are “read” through a hole in the cover. Each page features openings that allow the reader to see through the entire book to the back cover. The images on each page work together to form a three-dimensional scene inside the book that helps to tell the story.

The 3D format made us feel like we were traveling into our solar system as we flipped through the pages.

Making one is actually easier than it looks. My version, however, differs from the traditional form because it is only bounded on one side. I left the right side open so that we could flip though it like a book.


  • Cardstock (8.5″x 11″):
    • Blue cardstock (10x): we used a mixture of different shades
    • White (1x)
  • Scoring tool (alternatively, an old credit card, ruler and towel would work as well)
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Coloring materials (we used craft paint)
  • Scissors and/or X-Acto knife (recommended)

Print out the templates — “solar system” template on white cardstock and “orbit” template on blue cardstock.

* Please note that while the templates include a page for the sun, I decided to exclude it from my book (I used my phone’s flashlight to represent our star instead), so you will not see it in my pictures.

Color and cut. We used craft paint and also splattered/smeared some white on the blue cardstock to represent faraway stars. Only cut the shaded circles from the middle of each page on the “orbits” template (an X-Acto knife is recommended). Mark the page number, which are in brackets, for each cut item with a pencil for future reference.

DO NOT CUT OUT THE CIRCLE FOR THE SUN on page 9 of the “orbit” template.

We explored textures while painting the planets by using sponges, plastic wrap, and brushes.

Glue the planets onto the orbit circles by matching the page numbers. Play around with placement — spread them around so that they are not bunched together and have at least 50% of each planet “stick out” of the circle cutouts. The goal is to have all eight planets visible from the front page.

Glue the sun cutout in place as indicated on page 9 of the “orbit” template.

Create the spine. Using the last blue cardstock placed in portrait orientation, draw vertical lines that are 0.5″ apart and score along the lines. Scoring is extremely important when working with heavier paper because it helps create clean, crisp folds. If you do not have a scoring bone, place the cardstock on top of a towel, align a ruler along the lines, and run an old credit card along the ruler to create a score.

Make accordion folds along the scored lines.

Glue each page onto the spine. Start with Neptune on the first page and work your way back. Imagine each accordion fold as a hill, and glue the pages onto the downward slope.

Since I omitted the page for the sun, I have an empty slot on my spine.

Odd and Even Numbers Magnetic Game

WARNING: This activity uses small magnets, which can pose a serious choking hazard. If swallowed, they can cause serious injuries and even death. Adult supervision is required.

I made a self correcting game to help the Dumpling identify odd and even numbers using upcycled bottle caps and magnets.

This works because magnets have two poles, a negative and positive one, that either attract or repel each other. Opposite poles attract while the same poles repel.

While the game was designed to help her memorize odd and even numbers, it was also important that we discussed what the concept means. I explained that an even number is like when everyone buddies up and has another person to play with. When there is an odd number, however, there will always be someone who is by himself — the odd person out. We were eating breakfast during this math lesson, so I visually demonstrated with a handful of Cheerios on the table and grouped them in pairs to determine whether there was an even/odd number. Once she understood that, I told her the shortcut was just to memorize which numbers are odd and even…and mommy made a game for it!


  • Flat magnets (12x): Need to be small enough to fit in the inside of the bottle caps. I purchased mine at a local craft shop; similar ones can be found on Amazon.
  • Bottle caps (12x)
  • Strong tape
  • Sharpie

Label the bottle caps “0”, “1”, “2”, “3”, “4”, “5”, “6”, “7”, “8”, “9”, “odd” and “even” with a sharpie.

Arrange six magnets with the positive side facing up and six with the negative side facing up. To do so, first stack all 12 magnets together. Next, pull apart six so that you have two stacks. Then, flip one of the stacks over. Now you have one stack that is positive and one that is negative.

Take one of the stacks and separate each magnet about an inch apart — let’s call this Group A.

Do the same thing with the second stack — this is Group B.

Secure magnets onto the insides of the caps with strong tape. Bottle caps labeled “1”, “3”, “5”, “7”, “9” and “even” (yes, “even”) get Group A magnets. Bottle caps labeled “0”, “2”, “4”, “6”, “8”, and “odd” get Group B magnets. Make sure the magnets are securely attached though, because the attraction can be strong enough to pull the magnets and tape off!

Hover the caps labeled with “odd” and “even” over the numbers and watch as they either attract or repel each other. Please note that the “odd” and “even” caps need to be held with the text facing down — meaning the inside of the cap faces up.

Making Music With the Dumpling

During the height of the Dumpling’s obsession with Baby Shark, I thought it would be a fun idea to teach her how to play the song on the piano. It was an idiotic move on my end because the main tune, which only consist of four notes on repeat, was even more annoying without lyrics…especially when played incorrectly, as my then three year old did regularly.

The Dumpling was only interested in replicating the melody, so I helped her identify the keys by writing the name of each note, starting with middle C and ending with high C, on painter’s tape and taping them onto the keys. Our “lessons” were unstructured, a few minutes long, and on an impromptu basis. My goal was to expose her to music, not formally train her. Repetition was essential. For the first month, I listened to her play Baby Shark on repeat until my ears bled.

Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo…”

Luckily she also learned Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to give me a bit of variety.

Her enthusiasm for the piano soon stopped just as suddenly as it started, and a year would passed before we made music together again. This time around, her instruments of choice were an out-of-tune toy xylophone and a set of handbells. With a little refresher, it was not long before I found the same two songs on an infinite play loop again.

Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo…”

The Dumpling claimed that she could actually play five songs because The Alphabet Song (ABCs) and Baa Baa Black Sheep share the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. While technically true, it was nevertheless a good time to add new ones to her repertoire.

Handbells: I found handbells easier to work with than the piano. First, they look more fun and can be either rung or struck with a mallet (although the sound is a bit muffled). In addition to the labels on the handle, the different colors provide an easy identifying visual. Finally, because the Dumpling must deliberately select a bell and ring it, this prompts her to be more careful. The biggest downside, however, is that we are limited to working with only eight bells.

Using the bells in practice exercises, we shuffled and arranged them in proper order. We also compared the sounds of two or three randomly selected bells to determine which was lower or higher. Our collaborative playing, where the Dumpling and I took turns being responsible for ringing different notes, was probably my favorite part. For example, she would have bells C and D while I would have E and G on Mary Had A Little Lamb, then we would switch off on the next round.

Collaborative playing keeps both of us on our toes!

Noteflight: Most of the music sheets I found were too complicated for what we were trying to do, so I re-arranged my own using Noteflight. I kept only the notes (I also included note values, but have not gone over the concept with the Dumpling yet) and the corresponding note names. Everything was enlarged and spaced out for easier reading. The premium version of the website also provides color coding, but I opted to only use the free version.

I am not sure how long this round of the Dumpling’s musical aspirations will last, but I might as well make the most of it. In the meantime, if you cannot beat them, join them! “Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo…”

Turn Handwriting Into a Font via Calligraphr

Starting last year, I decided to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font every year to document the evolution of her penmanship. Her dexterity has progressed tremendously in the past 12 months — while she was only able to trace when I first started this project, the Dumpling can now free-write block letters and numbers.

And yes, I do realize a mistake in my pangram as it should use “jumps” instead of “jumped”.


I used the Calligraphr website to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font. The steps are straightforward — fill out a template and re-upload it back onto the site.

But…and this is a big but, it would have been difficult to expect my toddler to write within the boxes and lines, so I had her scribble the alphabet and numbers on a piece of scrap paper first.

Then I digitally “cut” the letters and numbers in Photoshop, scaling each to the proper size and erasing stray marks along the way, and “pasted” them onto the template. I uploaded the completed template back onto Calligraphr to generate my font.

Below is the Dumpling’s font from last year compared to this year.

2018: Tracing (three years old)
2019: Handwriting (four years old)
I can totally forge notes with this!

Learning Chinese Alongside My Toddler

I did not think it would happen so soon — the Dumpling is now learning Chinese words in school that is beyond my elementary knowledge of the language. Frankly my exact reaction when I saw her second semester vocabulary list was “WTF?!”

Semester 1 vocabulary list: 大, 小, 人, 口, 月, 手, 貓, 狗, 魚, 車, 門, 山, 男, 女

Semester 2 vocabulary list: 花朵, 青草, 杯子, 新年, 米飯, 牛奶, 兔子, 樹木, 刷牙, 洗手, 雨天, 跑步, 打球, 游泳, 爸爸, 媽媽

While she is not expected to write at three years old, her current curriculum requires her to recognize characters. Feedback from the school’s initial progress report stated that she “needs more practice”.

I dislike the competitiveness, methods, and intensity of the Hong Kong school education system (her current kindergarten is actually considered lax by local standards), so I am unwilling to deploy any tiger parenting tactics that would add additional pressure. That means I do not intend to enroll her in after-school tutoring or various extra-curricular courses so she can “get ahead.” I believe that learning at her age should be done seamlessly through play; anything extra should be purely based on her interest level. For example, I will only sign the Dumpling up for additional classes because it is an activity she loves to do—not something I want her to learn.

My challenge, therefore, is integrating Mandarin into our daily routine without making the process feel like a “lesson.” Despite living in Hong Kong, English is the primary and dominant language in both our household and expat community, so Mandarin is actually a very foreign sound. In order to do that, however, I first have to learn the words myself. Google Translate has been my BFF, and I have been practicing the activities below alongside the Dumpling (and pretending like I know what I am talking about).

Flash Cards

I made flash cards and taped them on relevant or highly visible places around the house. For example, 花朵 (flower) was taped right next to my vase of flowers and 牛奶 (milk) was taped on the fridge. Sometime we would play a “scavenger hunt” for the words or we just pointed to them as we went about our day. Those few seconds of daily exposure added up — by mid-semester, the Dumpling’s progress report improved to a “well done!”

Images used in puzzle are downloaded from Freepik.
The flashcards were taped next to relevant objects around the house.

Coloring Sheets

I made coloring pages of her vocabulary words in PowerPoint, which can be done with just a few clicks!

Turn any text into outlines in PowerPoint to create coloring sheets.

Instead of using just markers and crayons, below are few ideas to keep the activity fresh by “coloring” with different materials.

  • 花朵, 青草, 樹木: Scavenge for small flowers, grass, and branches to glue onto the characters
  • 米飯: Glue rice (I dyed mine with food coloring)
  • 兔子: Glue cotton balls or white pom poms
  • 刷牙: Paint with toothpaste (preferable a colored one) on with an old toothbrush
  • 洗手: Paint with colored foam soap/shaving cream
  • 雨天: Draw raindrops with white crayon and paint over with blue watercolor (wax resist)

Below are a few other learn-through-play activities I have done with the Dumpling in the past:

Self Correcting Puzzle with Vocabulary Words

The Chinese characters used in the puzzle correlate with the vocabulary words from her Semester 1 vocabulary list.

Some images used in puzzle are downloaded from Freepik.

Chinese and Arabic Number Puzzle (Click here to download)

I created this puzzle to help the Dumpling recognize Chinese numbers and associate them with their Arabic counterparts.

Directions: Glue each printout onto a piece of cardboard. Carefully cut out the Chinese number puzzle pieces with an X-Acto knife. Lay the Chinese numbers sheet on top of the Arabic numbers sheet.

Missing Number: 1 – 10 (Click here to download)

This was another puzzle to help the Dumpling get familiarize with Chinese numbers. When we first started the activity, the Dumpling actually lacked the coordination and strength to pinch the clothing pins open, so clipping them on became an exercise in itself.

Directions: Cut the strips along the solid lines. Label clothes pin with numbers 1-10 in Chinese characters.

Memory Game with Colors (Click here to download)

To play, lay the pieces with their backsides facing up. Flip over two pieces on each turn with the goal of finding two matching colors in as few moves as possible. Again, I do not expect the Dumpling to read just yet; I just say the colors aloud as we play. We initially started with only two colors and have currently built up to six.

Directions: Make two copies of the printable and cut out each color circle.

6 Fun Ways to Do Alphabet Hunt Worksheets

I recently printed a free A-Z alphabet hunt pack from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls to review letter recognition and sounds with the Dumpling. To spice up the activity so that she was not just circling the letters 26 times on repeat, we divvied the worksheet pack into four to five separate exercises and “circled” the letters a different way each time.

1. Apply Sticker Labels

I wrote the letters out on circle labels and asked the Dumpling to stick them on as each letter was identified.

2. Dab On Colored Glue

If you do not have colored glue, create your own by mixing food coloring or liquid watercolor (add more drops for higher color intensity) to white Elmer’s glue.

3. Stamp with Fingers, Bottle Caps, Etc.

4. Paint With Watercolor

This step is optional: I pre-circled the letters with a white crayon so the correct answers were “revealed” once they were painted over.

5. Squirt Watercolor With Liquid Dropper

Sometimes just switching up the tool does wonders to renew my kiddo’s interest. Using a liquid dropper saved from an old medicine bottle, the Dumpling squirted liquid watercolor on top of the letters.

6. Puncture With Push Pins

Placing a folded towel (or two) underneath a worksheet, the Dumpling punctured each letter that she found with a pin.

N.B. Needless to say, the pins are sharp and adult supervision is required.

Naturally she insisted on using her toy hammer.

Turn Your Child’s Handwriting Into a Font

It started when I noticed the Dumpling drawing lines between random dots on her magnetic doodle board two months ago, so I began making more dots for her to connect. She got really into it, so we moved onto shapes, numbers, and letters and are now even solving simple connect-the dot puzzles! 

As much as I want her penmanship to improve, I know that I would miss her scribbles one day. Wouldn’t it be great if I could archive her chicken scratches forever…without keeping piles of paper?

Enter Calligrphr, a free app that I used to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font. I downloaded their template, filled it up with the Dumpling’s traced numbers and letters, and then re-uploaded the template back onto the site.

I used a pencil to create the dotted letters and numbers, had the Dumpling trace them with a marker, and erased my markers when she was done.

If anyone is interested in downloading the font, click here! (Please note that only numbers and capital letters are available…no lowercase, punctuations, special characters, etc.) 

This would make great “handwritten” holiday cards or letters to Santa!

I plan to turn the Dumpling’s handwriting into a new font annually and to track how her handwriting progresses!