Pony Crossing

Pony Crossing lesson plan

Did the horses escape from a sunken ship? Could it have been pirates? Discover what happens on this annual pony drive, made famous in Misty of Chincoteague!

  • 1.

    On the last Wednesday and Thursday in July, the oldest round-up in the United States takes place in Maryland and Virginia on Assateague Island. Local firefighters round up the horses that run wild on the barrier islands of the Assateague Island National Seashore and Wildlife Refuge. The ponies swim across the Assateague Channel for 1/2 mile (.4 km). They are driven down the main street of Chincoteague Island. Forty horses of this registered pedigree are sold as part of the carnival festivities.

  • 2.

    These dramatic events inspired the beloved book <EM>Misty of Chincoteague </EM>as well as visits by thousands of visitors a year. Read the book. Learn more about the area’s history and the story of the horses and their desolate home. How do you think the pony penning is done today?

  • 3.

    Imagine the striking images you would see during the pony crossing. What event would you like to show in a 3D replica? Here’s one idea to try, or you can choose another scene to show.

  • 4.

    Mold horses’ heads with Crayola® Model Magic. Knead color from Crayola Washable Markers into white Model Magic to create colors. Sculpt eyes, ears, and nostrils. Add details such as manes with more Model Magic if you wish. Air-dry the heads.

  • 5.

    Cover your art area with newspaper. On watercolor paper, paint the watery Assateague Channel with Crayola Watercolors and Watercolor Brushes. For a splashy look like horses swimming, wet the paper with clean water before you paint. Air-dry flat.

  • 6.

    If you like, cut the horses’ manes from yarn with Crayola Scissors. Attach with Crayola School Glue.

  • 7.

    To make a glaze to preserve your sculpture, mix equal parts of water and glue. Cover the Model Magic with the glaze. Glue the horses’ heads to the water scene. Air-dry flat.


  • Students learn about the traditional pony round-up on Assateague Island, Virginia.
  • Students read the classic book <em>Misty of Chincoteague</em>.
  • Students create a 3-dimensional illustration of the pony-penning events.


  • Part I of <EM>Misty of Chincoteague</EM> is told from the horses’ perspective. Continue that voice by writing an account of your illustration from the animal’s perspective.
  • Debate the various theories about the origins of the Chincoteague and Assateague ponies. Did they come from a sunken Spanish ship? Pirates?
  • Identify other children’s or adult books that are tied closely to a specific place or event. What effect have the books had upon those places?