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Crafty Mom: Recycled crayons

Posted April 19, 2012

In anticipation of Earth Day, I finally attempted a project that’s been on my to-do list for quite awhile: recycling crayons.

I’ve had a container in our art cabinet collecting broken crayons for some time now. Whenever I hear an, “Oh no!” while the kids are coloring, I simply remove the paper from the broken crayon and toss it into the bits bin. I also save all those freebie crayons the kids are given at restaurants for this purpose. Occasionally I have been known to forget them in my car on a hot day. Trust me when I say that your vehicle’s cup holder is NOT the place you want to make recycled crayons!

I have read many times about recycling crayons by baking them in muffin tins in the oven, but for Earth Day, I wanted to try something a little more earth-friendly: Melting them in the sun!

We picked a really warm day and started by choosing the color combinations for our crayons. We picked various shades of blue and green, hoping they’d look like Earth when they were finished. Then we broke and cut the crayons into small pieces and put them into the molds we were going to use. Since we wanted circles, we used emptied and cleaned single-serving-sized yogurt containers, but you can use just about anything; containers that would otherwise be recycled or trashed are perfect for the job because they aren’t going in the oven, so they don’t need to be oven-safe. Plus it won’t matter if they get messed up in the process.

We put the containers with the crayon bits in the warmest spot we could: Inside a pot with a glass lid, outside in direct sunlight. From experience, another idea that might speed the process would be to stick them in a vehicle parked in the sun!

Despite our best efforts, the 80 degree day didn’t quite melt our crayons enough, so we put them directly under a light bulb in the house until they were more thoroughly melted. (I’m pretty sure we won’t have any trouble melting crayons outside in another month or two!)

Once melted, we stuck the cups in the freezer since we were in a hurry to see how they turned out. It didn’t take long at all for them to harden. Then we were able to gently squeeze the sides of the containers, turn them upside down, and press on the bottom like a button until our new crayons popped out! From trash to treasure!

Happy Earth Day!

Genny is a former Wake County Public School System elementary and reading teacher, who is now a stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers in Cary. Read more on her blog In Lieu of Preschool and Facebook page. Find her here a couple of times a month.
 

3 Comments

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  • gennyupton Apr 28, 2012

    Albegadeep, a solar oven is a great suggestion and would add some additional learning into the lesson!

    Jackiesue, my children (ages 2 and 4) loved coloring with the crayons we made, I think at least in part because they were shaped differently than normal. We used little 4 oz. yogurt cups so the new crayons were about the size of the children's palms, making them easy to grasp. I don't think this shape would be so great for detailed, coloring-book-style coloring, but for free-style backgrounds and large space coloring, they work great! They're also fun in general because of the color variation you get since multiple colors of crayons were used to make a single new crayon. If you want a different shape, you can always look for ice-cube molds or other mini silicone trays. I picked up some with little heart shapes in the Target dollar section around Valentine's Day to use for recycling crayons. The link in the post above shows some made into star shapes. :)

  • jackiesue Apr 21, 2012

    Can children really color with yogurt container size crayons?

  • albegadeep Apr 20, 2012

    A simple homemade solar oven - basically a cardboard box with the inside covered in aluminum foil, and pointed toward the sun - should generate MORE than enough heat.