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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Recycle the crayons...

Every parent accumulates a set of broken, unused crayon stubs. It just seems to be a natural part of the process. Kids do not want to use the small bits of crayon. Instead, they prefer the knew box of crayons that sport perfectly straight, unbroken crayons with untarnished wrappers.

So what is a parent to do with all those small bits of crayons that seem to pile up?

Well, enlist your children to help you make new crayons. That is what you do. At first your kids will think you have lost your mind. WHY would you try to "make" crayons when you can go buy perfectly good crayons at the store?

You need to start by having your children get rid of whatever paper wrappers might be left on the crayons. Granted, there probably is very little of the wrapper on any of the crayons simply because it seems to be part of the process that young kids will remove the wrapper just for fun. However, it is a necessary step, so have the wee ones do this for you.

Then you need to be sure that the pieces are fairly small. This can be done with scissors or just by having the kids break the pieces as small as they can manage. Children love to be given permission to destroy things, so it should be pretty easy to get your kids to assist you with this step.

Then you need to preheat your oven. Yep - you are cooking the crayons. YUM! Set the oven to 150 degrees. You need to keep the heat low because if your crayons melt too quickly you will end up with a glob of wax on the top and the color on the bottom. The new crayons won't work properly. So you have to cook them slowly and try to keep them from melting too much. You want a thick consistency, not a thin liquid.

Pick your muffin tin for cooking your crayons. You can use a standard sized muffin tin or a miniature muffin tin. You can even use a shaped tin to create shaped crayons. I tend to prefer the miniature muffin tin because the new crayons are the perfect size for little hands.

Fill each muffin tin with about an inch thick layer of broken crayons. Here is where the real fun begins. You can use whatever combination of crayons that you choose. I let the kids do this part. I have been blessed to see various combinations created by my artistic children. They made a set that followed similar color patterns (greens with greens, reds with pinks, yellows with oranges, blues with blues). I have also seen the wild crayons that mix the colors together. It really is only limited by your or your kids' imagination. I think my personal favorite was when they took two or three different blues and added one or two pieces of white. The results were quite pretty.

Cook your crayons for a few minutes. The size of your tins will determine how long it takes. I recommend that you start by cooking them for 4 to 5 minutes and then check on them. Continue checking on them every couple of minutes until they are mostly melted. The crayons do not need to be completely melted for this to work. It is okay to have some bits of solid crayons down in the mix. Again, you do not want to melt them too much because they won't color well if you do.

After your crayons have reached the desired consistency, pull the tin out of the oven and let it sit. The crayons will cool and harden. This takes about 10 to 20 minutes or more depending on the size of your new crayons. I find it best to just let it be and then come back in an hour or so. If you want to make more crayons, it might be a good idea to have another muffin pan so you can keep going while the first set cools off.

The newly made crayons will just pop right out of your tin after they are cooled.

Now, you have all these really cool crayons. What to do with them? You can let your kids keep them or you can give them away. If you want to give your children a good lesson in community service, you can get some coloring books (or make some using print offs from the Internet) and make up some gift packs. Take the crayons and the coloring books to your local children's hospital and pass them out to the patients. Check with the hospital first, but most would gladly appreciate the time and effort of having your children come in and deliver a special gift to the kids that are stuck in the hospital for a long time. There are plenty of options for gifting your creations. Just explore your area to see what is needed.


SoccerMom said...

Hey Mom

This is a great idea! As you know The girl is too old for this as we have advanced to Pencil Crayons. But I have a few friends and nieces and nephews that this would be good for

Mom said...

She might be "too old" to color with them, but she certainly is not too old to make them and pass them out as gifts.

My 18 year old just loved doing this. My 13 year old son did, too. He even made his very own designs and kept them. He used a tooth pick to "stir" the melted crayons to make more designs in them before they melted.

You might be surprised to find that she has a blast doing this even if they are not for her. You should give it a try...

Liss said...

Well, I never new you could do this.
There is life for our old crayons yet.

I will email you some of my pics.

SoccerMom said...

Hey Mom

No, she is not too old to use crayons or to do the project. The problems is we just dont have any because once they get to about grade 5 here in Ontairo the teachers want projects done in pencil crayon?!? Don't ask, I have no clue other then it is to make moms crazy trying to find all the same colour the kids have come to love in the crayon box, that are just not available in the pencil form.