June 6, 2013

Draw and Write with Fire

by Kerrie Logan Hollihan

Summertime makes me think about camp. I could write a book about how camp was a life-changing event for me. I went to several and on reflection, had the most fun at Methodist church camps in downstate Illinois.

For some reason, I especially remember the hours I spent in the sun using a small magnifying glass for wood burning.  I had no idea about the scientific principles behind it; I simply thought it was a cool way to draw (something I’m no good at to this day). Now good old wood burning has been elevated to an art form: solar pyography.  

Look carefully, and you'll see that
  Theodore Roosevelt posed for this photo
at a New York City studio.
You can see some fabulous 
pieces at Jonathon Maxwell
Beartusk's website:


As I drafted Theodore Roosevelt for Kids, outdoor activities obviously had to be part of the mix.  TR was probably the most "woodsy" of our presidents, so writing up a wood burning activity seemed like a natural.  I even experimented on our deck with a piece of firewood, which brought out the kid in me.*

Isn’t that what summer is all about?

*And reminds me of a riddle we learned on the WTTW Chicago science program we watched at Whittier Elementary School:

Q: Why did the old cowman named his new ranch "Focus?"
A: Because that's where the sons raise meat!


  1. Sounds like a great book, Kerrie, and a fun activity. I enjoyed your riddle. :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another great activity! You always come up with stuff that's realistic for kids to do but also fun and educational.