It's recession time. You want to save money while trying to be "green" and you like the idea of your kids making some homemade gifts. Plus you're the not-so proud owner of a ginormous stubby crayon collection comprised of every crayon your kid has received from the time he was able to grasp objects and half of which is made up of those barely used restaurant crayons you felt so bad leaving on the table all those times you've dinned out with the kids. Why not recycle those babies into some cool, fun-shaped new crayons that scream "look at how cool I am being all green and spending special parent and me time with my kid and stuff." You'll make your mother-in law smile and your sister-in law green with envy seeing how you truly are the better parent.
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Step 1: Gather Necessary Materials
To turn ugly broken crayon pieces into beautiful, fresh, shiny new fun-shaped crayons you'll need:
Crayons and crayon pieces of all sizes and colors
A plastic candy mold (yes, fully aware this purchase is not so "green" but remember you're trying to achieve an "eco-friendly" gift that's also something a kid would actually want to use so you can justify the purchasing this piece of cheap plastic knowing that you'll love this project so much you'll want to do it often)
Extra Items include:
Old cups to melt your crayon pieces into
Pretty Packaging Items:
Clean cereal box
small plastic treat bags (again not so green--still thinking of a way to package the crayons using a recycled material)
ink stamp pad
Step 2: A Crayon Hunting You Will Go
Take those hands and dive right in to your crayon graveyard. Search for colors that you have a lot of and that compliment each other.
Step 3: Peel Away
Peel the paper off of the crayons. Might want to grow your nails out for a few weeks prior to this because after what will seem forever peeling paper you're sure to develope some serious fingertip soreness. Ouch! This is probably the most time consuming portion of this activity so make sure those kids help. Tell them "look at how much fun we are having bonding together over crayon paper peeling and stuff. And this isn't even the funnest part of the project."
Step 4: Breaking Up
Break longer crayons into small pieces. The kiddies love this step. This is the funnest part of the project.
Step 5: Filling the Mold
Generously fill each candy mold with desired color combination. Then, you'll place the candy trays outside in direct sunlight. When the crayons are melted in the sun they won't completely mix together. The result is a very cool looking swirl effect. Look at you using solar energy as your source of heat...how green.
Step 6: A Day in the Sun
Place filled candy molds outside in direct sunlight to melt. While they are melting go inside and take out the keeper crayons and your favorite Batman coloring book and color away. Make sure to stay in the lines!
Step 7: Not So Hot
After half a day. Go outside and check on the molds. Discover that not only do you need direct sunlight but apparently you need surface of the sun temperatures to melt those crayons down to a swirly-whirly liquid. Not wanting to let the kids down you'll need to move to plan B.
Time to use an alternative heat source to melt those babies.
What we did was melted crayons in the microwave by placing crayon pieces into a microwave-safe cup and heating on high from 3-5 minutes. Unfortunately you can't place candy molds in the microwave as they aren't microwave safe.
The plus side to the microwave version is that you can do a quick mini-lesson with the kids in solids, liquids and gases. Look how smart you are!
Next year you'll start this project in July.
Step 8: Hot Liquid
The next step is best completed by an adult as the melted crayon liquid is very, very hot.
At this point you can continue your intriguing discussion on the physical properties of matter with the as you show them how their solid crayons have turned into a hot liquid that's giving off the most horrible smelling gas (try not to inhale) when they were melted in the microwave. And while the solid kept it's own shape when placed in the candy mold the liquid took the shape of the candy mold when poured.
Next, pour the extremely hot liquid into the candy mold and ask your mini chemists "what do you think will happen next?"
Step 9: Waiting for the Results..yet Again
Allow liquid crayon gook to cool and harden. This is a pretty quick process. Five to ten minutes at the most.
Drag kids back into the kitchen to see what has happened. Next, lay on tons of verbal praise when you share with your little one the results of your experiment explaining that their predictions were right when they said that the hot, hot liquid would get cold and turn back into a solid. Then, give them a hug, kiss and a cookie for being so knowledgeable and for using the words "liquid" and "solid."
Step 10: Pop Those Babies Out
Remove the fresh and shiny fun-shaped crayons from the candy mold carefully by twisting the edges of the candy mold back and forth. The new crayons should pop right out.
Turn the crayons face up and prepare to be amazed at how sweet the new crayons actually look.
Step 11: Optional Special Holiday Packaging
Package those babies up something nice.
Now, I do realize that the use of plastic treat bags aren't what you'd consider necessarily "green." However, they sure make a cheap, nice and mess-free way to pass out your gift. So, if it makes you feel better just "help" the recipient carefully open the package because they're sure to want to use these beauts right away. Then, tell them you'll throw away the trash but instead just tuck the wrapping right back into your purse to use again. There, now don't you feel better?
What we did to package our crayons:
Using small treat bags purchased at Michael's we carefully placed a crayon into a bag. Then we cut labels out of a recycled cereal box. Next, we set up a packaging assembly line. The littlest helper stamping a swell snow flake print on the front of the label then passed it to the big brother who wrote out the label which I would've liked to have read "Eco-friendly and 100% Recycled Crayon" however I felt the "Eco-friendly" part was kinda false advertising so the boy just wrote "100% Recycled Crayon. Made by..." I sealed the deal by stapling the label to the packaged crayon. I think the results are sorta cute.
And judging from the excitement level of my two picky consumers I think the recipients of our recycled crayons should have a good time coloring with these fun-shaped gifts.
Now to go with these sweet crayons we'll make some recycled paper.