Crankies Made by Children

Sue Truman with the group PODORYTHMIE led a couple crankie workshops at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Many wonderful crankies resulted - her is one. Enjoy!
From McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter and Matt Muirhead
A month following the 2015 uprising in Baltimore, a response to the death of Freddie Gray, we made a crankie with a group of middle schoolers from East Baltimore. We asked them to share their experiences and what they might change about Baltimore, given the chance. Filmed, hosted and produced by McKenzie Ditter, Matt Muirhead and Emily Uchytil. To read the article associated with this experience, order the SONG issue of Taproot Magazine at

Educational Scrolling Boxes and Blackboards

Photo of a girl with the Chautaugua Writing Desk, early 1900s. From the collection of Sue Truman

Educational scrolling blackboards and boxes have been used with children for centuries. Find out about The Darton Scrolls, The Chautagua Writing Desk, Lithoplate Blackboards and more here.

Interested in the history of moving panoramas? Check out the history section!

The Shoe Song
The Shoe Song by Brian Folkins Amador © A Cranky created and sung by students from the Global Village Project Decatur GA,,

Early "How To" Articles

As a crankie artist, I really, really love finding old articles explaining how to make a moving panorama. Typical for this time period, the information is written for boys, glad we are evolving.

How to Make a Moving Panorama, 1910 from the Book of Knowledge

A Panorama, 1930, excerpts from The Boy Showman and Entertainer

Moving Picture Toy for Children, from the Boy Mechanic, 1923

This crankie was created by students at the Bay School, a Waldorf school in Maine, with the help of music teacher, Meg Chittenden. Meg sings all the parts in this recording.
Gum Tree Canoe - Sam Bartlett
Cranky Show directed by Sam Bartlett at Pinewoods Family Camp in Plymouth, MA in July 2014. Music by Abby Ladin, Keith Murphy, & Sam Bartlett. Sam has been making music and crankys with kids for many years. Visit his website
Crankie Workshop at the Oly Ol' Time Festival - 2016
Emily Teachout, Shanty Slater, & Nikki McClure lead a crankie making workshop Feb. 2016 at the Oly Ol' Time Fest. The song they chose was Casey Jones. This is a fantastic festival.

Cranking Out Some History

"Cranking Out Some History"   Sam Bartlett, Artist in Residency, worked with elementary and middle school student to creat a cranky about a local, historic building, The Holland Theater in Bellefontaire, Ohio. Read about it here.  

Check out Sam's website

Watch the crankie HERE!

Using Panorama Theater to Teach Middle School Social Studies

If you are a social studies teacher, you might be interested in this article.  It was written by George Chilcoat Ed.D. and published in the Middle School Journal in 1995. It gives a brief history of moving panoramas and then lesson plans to teach middle school children about the Civil War by making a moving panorama.  Really such a brilliant idea.

I ordered the article for $5.00 through my public library.  If you are a teacher, you may be able to access it through your school.  Here is the link

In the 1860s, the Milton Bradley Company made miniature moving panoramas as an educational toy, to teach Civil War history.  Here is a you tube link to The Myriopticon. 


Trad Camp Alphabet Song
The campers and staff of the 2013 Traditional Arts Camp sponsored by the Brattleboro, VT Music Center created this alphabet song. The music is by Andy Davis ©2013. The words were composed and edited by the camp participants. Alphabet songs date back to the 19th c. and earlier. Each letter of the song is linked to a meaningful part of a place, an occupation or an experience. For more information about Andy's crankys, visit his website
Cranky Workshop Led by Anna Roberts-Gevalt
Short film by Eli Kleinsmith documenting the Cranky Workshop at the Cowan Mountain Music School in June, 2013. This week long camp happens every summer outside of Whitesburg, Ky. in Cowan. Participants can take a number of instrument classes as well as individual workshops. This workshop was designed by Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle (via cell phone).
Crankie by 1st Grade Students About Tide Pools
This crankie was illustrated by the 1st graders at Ridgecrest Elementary in Shoreline, Washington. It tells about their field trip to the tide pools. Dejah Leger helped the children make the crankie. Her first grade daughter is filming it and the commentary from the audience is hilarious.
I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground
2012 - Pete Sutherland and Rose Diamond worked with kids all week at Trad Camp in VT. Each child took one verse of the old time tune "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" to draw on the crankie. This performance was at the end of the week when the children got to see the whole crankie for the first time. Pete Sutherland and Rose Diamond have been pillars of the trad music community for many years and have been making crankies for some years now.

This page created in 2013, updated 2019. Sue Truman