Words and Pictures: Magic Pencil
Magic Pencil is a unit of the BBC Schools TV series Words and Pictures from the 2000s, covering English for Primary pupils.
Four programmes covering the entire alphabet, in which Sophie Aldred sings the alphabet and introduces an animation of words beginning with each letter, and a demonstration of how to write each letter by a magic pencil.
These programmes were edited from a video called Alphabet Fun Time, released on general sale in 1994 and combining footage used in the 1992-93 and earlier series of Words and Pictures with new recordings.
'Magic Pencil' is a device to show young children how to form letter shapes for their handwriting, in which a large pencil moves around the screen carefully writing a particular lower-case letter while a "movement jingle", such as "top to bottom, up and around" to describe an "r", reinforces the actions, and a light on the end of the pencil lights up to show when it is writing.
The concept of magic pencil had been used on Words and Pictures since 1975, originally as a traditional drawn animation of a "happy pencil", and then from 1982 as a kind of puppetry, a hand-held orange 'pencil' moving around the black screen and writing in clear white ink.
From 1989 magic pencil drew its letters with a serif or "flick" on the end of appropriate letters to encourage joined-up handwriting.
Titles & Theme Music
The titles from the 1992-93 series of Words and Pictures were used.
|1.||Programme 1: A-F||10 Dec 2001|
|2.||Programme 2: G-M||12 Dec 2001|
|3.||Programme 3: N-S||13 Dec 2001|
|4.||Programme 4: T-Z||14 Dec 2001|
|2002-03||Autumn 2002||Wed & Fri||~11:20||BBC2|
|2004-05||Autumn 2004||Thu||11:00 & 11:15||BBC2|
|Summer 2006||Mon & Tue||10:00+||CBBC|
|2007-08||Autumn 2007||Thu||11:30 & 11:45||BBC2|
|Animation||Alan Rogers & Peter Lang|
|Series producer||Clare Elstow|
Video and DVD
The original Alphabet Fun Time video had been on general release since 1994, originally costing £8.99.
A video of the four TV programmes was released for schools in 2002, originally costing £19.99. This was later re-released as a Video Plus Pack and a DVD Plus Pack, costing £37.99 and £44.99 plus VAT respectively including a teachers' book.
A Magic Pencil CD-ROM was released in 2002, designed to help with handwriting practice it included a demonstration mode showing the formation of letters, numerals and simple letter combinations, and a set of practical activities for pupils.
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