The secret to overcoming writer's block is a pencil so marvelous that you can't help but pick it up and start scribbling. To create one, a kid winds extra-thin tape around a plain pencil, paints it, and then unwraps the tape. Each design has a personality all its own: A pencil with parallel stripes, for instance, makes math homework fun, while dreamy blue spirals are lovely for writing secrets in a journal.
You will need 1/16- to 1/8-inch-wide skinny masking tape, depending on the desired stripe size; acrylic paints; and plain pencils. Natural-color cedar pencils work well. Begin by wrapping tape around pencil; try a candy-cane design, or wrap in individual circles for parallel lines. Paint over whole pencil generously with acrylic paint. When paint is dry, remove tape. Kids can make different styles by varying tape size, wrapping tape in different ways, and painting alternating colors between bands.