Skateboards: Their Life and Times

Skateboards: Their Life and Times
Lady Bird Johnson: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


Although skateboards were invented before 1960, they were not very popular.  The first skateboards consisted of four clay wheels attached to a 4-inch wide piece of lumber.  Later, crates were attached to them, with handles for steering.  You might say that the first skateboards were scooters rather than the skateboards of today.  Skateboards grew in popularity when a few famous surfers in California used them in the early 1960’s.  Unfortunately, because of the danger involved in early skateboarding, popularity of the sport came to a screeching halt in only two years.   This lesson introduces students to the early history of skateboarding and involves poetry in the final product.


Students will research the history of skateboarding.
Students will draw a skateboard using a computer program.
Students will compose poetry about skateboarding.
Students will design a Shape Poem.

Materials Required:

Computer, Internet access and basic graphics program (such as MS Paint), printer, paper, writing utensils.


  1. Introduce the lesson by having students think about what the first skateboard looked like and when it was invented.  Have students make a drawing of it and talk with a peer about the questions.  Then ask students about the changes of skateboards then and now.
  2. Have a class discussion about what each pair decided and drew for the first skateboards.
  3. Briefly describe to the students the history of skateboards by summarizing the introduction provided.
  4. Using the Internet links provided, encourage students to read about the history of skateboarding.
  5. Have students write a summary about the history they wrote and the actual history of skateboards.
  6. Introduce students to the operations of the computer graphics program (i.e. MS Paint or Adobe Photoshop) and have them make a drawing of a skateboard—large enough to fill a piece of paper.
  7. Print each student’s picture.
  8. Introduce students to Shape Poems.  Poems about an object in the shape of that object.  Students can practice and print an example of their own using this link: 
  9. Ask each student to write a poem about skateboarding using the information they learned in their research.
  10. After students have made several rough drafts and the teacher has reviewed the final draft, students will copy their poem onto the skateboard picture they drew to create a Shape Poem.
  11. Display the pictures in the classroom. 

Extending the Lesson:

  • Have your students make model skateboards (specify size) and race them on a model track (e.g. Hot Wheels®) or pinewood derby (contact your local boy scouts).

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University