A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Chicken Scratch!

Posted by lindamartinandersen on June 16, 2015

A Writer's Playground Fotosearch_u17996074 “Chicken Scratch!” by Linda Martin Andersen

Recently, we had a family celebration in our newly remodeled Florida (Carolina) room.  I decorated one table with a tablecloth my grandmother (deceased) made while attending craft classes in a retirement home.  The embroidered design in the center of this gingham cloth is called Chicken Scratch.  Are you familiar with it?  This lovely gift and the memories of my grandmother made our special gathering even more precious.

Chicken Scratch copyright 2015 Linda Martin Andersen

Chicken Scratch copyright 2015 Linda Martin Andersen


If you’d like to learn to embroider chicken scratch, check here:  http://www.needlenthread.com/2014/04/how-to-embroider-on-gingham-chicken-scratch-tutorial.html

I decided to share some CHICKEN SCRATCH WORDPLAY with you. 

Another meaning of Chicken Scratch:

  • Poor penmanship or sloppy handwriting. 

Examples:  Have you ever been handed a note that you couldn’t read?  If a teacher accepts a student’s paper and immediately returns it she may say, “What’s this chicken scratch?”

Question:  When you are sick, who calls in a prescription to your pharmacy or writes out a prescription (script) that may be hard to read?  This poor handwriting may be described as chicken scratch.  [Answer:  Doctor/physician]

Recently, I gave a young grandson a birthday card and included a handwritten note in cursive.  Someone asked if he could read it.  I was reminded that students aren’t always taught cursive writing any more.

  • One type of feed for chickens is called Chicken Scratch.


  • And my final example:  chickens scratch the ground.  I changed the word from chicken to chickens.  Chickens are born with the instinct to scratch the ground.  Read more here.


If you’ve never seen chickens scratch the ground, consider taking a field trip. 

A writing prompt challenge: 

Write a poem, a paragraph or a story and include the words “chicken scratch” in it.  Consider using more than one meaning of  chicken scratch.  Have fun!

Thanks for visiting.  Come again soon and bring a friend.  Comments are appreciated.  If you’re under 13 years old, please ask a trusted adult to post for you.





21 Responses to “Chicken Scratch!”

  1. Joan Y. Edwards said

    Dear Linda,
    Oh Wow! The embroidered chicken scratch in he red gingham material is simply lovely. Your grandmother did an outstanding job of embroidering it! So glad you have this to remember her!

    Thank you for all you do to help us remember to celebrate each day.

    Never Give Up

    • Joan,
      Thanks for the compliment about my grandmother’s embroidery handiwork in my tablecloth. I love the name “Chicken Scratch.” It’s fun! I am guessing that many people have never heard of it or seen it.

      You are welcome for my reminders to celebrate each day. That’s a lovely compliment for me and my blog. I like the way you stated it. Thank you!

  2. never heard of it. but a lovely piece. Nice way to include your grandmother’s work into your home.

    • Carol,
      Glad to introduce you to “Chicken Scratch!” It’s always fun to find a way to use collectibles in our home. We’re loving our remodeled porch. Best change we’ve made in a while!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. Linda, you came up with an amazing wordplay. First, your grandmother’s “embroidered chicken scratch” quilt is beautiful and so intricate. I had always thought this design (in quilting) was called the “8-point star”. And I was fascinated by the article on chickens. I did know chicken scratch, but not why. I love learning new things. And your writing prompts are wonderful as always. Glad you got to redecorate too. And thanks for your wonderful comments about “Fancy” yesterday. 🙂

  4. Brother Jim said

    While I was eating chicken at your table the other day with the “chicken scratch” design I thought it was a snowflake or poinsettia. I didn’t know it was related to chickens. It must get its name from the design a chicken makes in the dirt when it scratches all around something it is trying to dig up. As for all the other play on words for chicken scratch, who knows how they got started! Leave it to you Linda to come up with the trivia research.

    • Jim,
      So glad you could join us at that table, chicken scratch and all! I think the chickens’scratching habits probably did inspire the name.

      Thanks for commenting. Good to have you here.

  5. Dear Linda, you always come up with the most interesting information. Whatever it’s called, the design is pretty. Good on your grandmother for being able to make it. Had she always be a crafty sort? Sarah

    • Sarah,
      Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad you enjoy what I share. My grandmother was a crafty sort. She was a home-economics teacher for years. She and my grandfather did needlepoint covers for their dining room chairs. Lovely. She was a good cook and loved to decorate for Christmas. Often, she had a theme tree–even before I heard of theme trees. Kind of ahead of her time in that respect. I’d love to hear about crafty ones in your family. Would that be you?

  6. Kathleen said

    Such a beautiful embroidery. What a wonderful memory. I have been told many of times, that I should have been a doctor because of my chicken scratch! 🙂

  7. Sloppy handwriting, that’s me.

  8. Tim,
    My mind would never have made that connection. But thanks to mentioning his name, I listed a bunny story about “Foot” that he tells. Funny! Thanks for the comments.

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