My daughter and I have been having fun together since my seven-year-old son has been at day camp for two weeks. (More on this to come!)

One fun thing we discovered as we dropped him off at the beach for his Beach Day was a large feather. Strawberry was delighted when I showed her how we can “tickle” each other with the feather. She proceeded to tickle herself all the way home. I mentioned, in passing, that in the past people would use a feather or “quill” as a pen, by dipping the tip into ink and writing with it. She was so excited by the idea that she wanted to try it! Hence, we had a morning of quill painting.

Quill Painting

Although I was not going to provide a jar of ink to my three-year-old (that seems a bit too messy!), I did pull out some paints for her to use. She loved the quill painting activity!

It was difficult for her to get the paint onto the paper, and she learned it was easier if she held close to the bottom of the feather. Yeay for better hand control! The feather got quite dirty in the process of her learning that, but it was a lot of fun for her to paint with it.

Strawberry enjoyed painting with a feather. I helped her write the "C" which is what her real name begins with.
Strawberry enjoyed painting with a feather. I helped her write the “C” which is what her real name begins with.

Quills, of course, had a bit more shape to better hold the ink. For my 3-year-old, however, this was just enough introduction to history. Imagine my joy when just a few days later, I found a book at a garage sale called Then and Now, which contrasts life in the past to life today. Strawberry enjoyed finding the similarities between the two pictures.

Although she is quite young to understand the abstract concept of history (the world still revolves around her, after all), “quill” painting was a gentle way to introduce her to a new concept, and Then and Now has only helped reinforce that concept.

I’m delighted to say, that although my copy of Then and Now is old and used, it is still in print, and I can offer it to you in my Usborne Books & More shop!

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  1. What a fun activity! Quills used to also be used for the craft of paper quilling, which is my favorite. I have always wanted to find a good big feather and try to make it like those old fashioned quill pens.

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