A brand new box of crayons is one of the small pleasures of childhood, but too soon those perfect, bright-colored crayons turn into broken nubs and stubs. Just about every kid on the block has a shoebox or tin filled with these.
Here's an idea for making good use of these discards: melt them together to form new crayons.
With an adult's supervision, kids can transform old crayons into new ones. All you need is a metal form - like an old muffin tin, preferably a disposable one or recycled one you could throw away after the project - and a low temperature oven.
How to Prepare the Crayons
For this craft, broken and worn crayons are placed in a foil-lined metal mold such as a muffin tin, cookie cutter or disposable foil muffin pan and heated in the oven until they melt together to form a multi-colored, jumbo crayon.
To begin, remove the paper wrappers from the crayon pieces. To make this easier, put the crayons in a bowl of cool water. After about 20 minutes, the wrappers will loosen. Lift the crayons from the bowl and scrape off the paper, or rub them off with paper towels.
Spread the wet crayons on a double thickness of paper towels to dry.
How to Melt the Crayons
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F or lower.
Line the metal mold with aluminum foil. Wrap the foil securely around the form and check for holes. If the foil rips, start over.
Put the molds and disposable muffin tins on a baking sheet and then pile the crayon pieces in the molds and cups. You may have to break some of the crayons to fit. Fill the molds nearly to the top, leaving as little space between the crayons as you can.
The kids can select colors that will go well together or decide on an "anything goes" policy.
Think about combining yellows, oranges, and reds together, or blues, greens, and purples. Red, violet, and lavender is a pretty combination. So is pink and purple; green and yellow; or blue and orange.
For little kids, melt a number of same-color crayons together to make chunky crayons. These are easy for tots to grasp.
Bake the crayons for 5 to 8 minutes, or just until they are melted enough to blend the colors and hold them together. If you cook them until liquefied, they could meld into one dark color. Be sure the room is well ventilated whenever crayons are being melted. Overheating wax crayons during the melting process may release irritating fumes.
Remove the molds from the oven. This should be done by an adult with pot holders. Put them on a heat-resistant surface and let them cool for 30 to 60 minutes. The time will depend on the size of the mold.
Remove the crayons from the molds. They should pop out easily. If not, tap them gently on the counter. Peel off the foil and Start coloring!
Crayon rubbings are easy with over-sized crayons. Lay a piece of paper over a textured item, such as a coin, key, faucet washers, a section of corrugated cardboard, a textured dish mat, sandpaper, or other textured household items. Rub the crayon over the paper until the shapes appear. Note: larger objects should be used if young children, ages 3 and younger, are involved in this art project to avoid possible small parts choking risks.
Collect leaves, bark, or stones on nature walks and make nature rubbings.
Use a crayon sharpener to make crayon shavings with any crayons you don't melt. Adults can increase the number of shavings with a paring knife or cheese grater. Already formed jumbo crayons are good for grating.
Spread the shavings between sheets of wax paper and, using a cool iron, iron over the wax paper and shavings. Hold the iron on the paper for about five seconds to melt the shavings. An adult should handle the hot iron. Place several sheets of scrap paper under and over the artwork to absorb any melted, colored wax that may leak out to protect your iron and board. Make sure the area is well ventilated when the crayons are being melted.
The melted crayons and wax paper will look like stain glass. When the paper cools, cut it into shapes like stars, circles, fish, or birds. Use a paper punch to make holes and string them with ribbon or yarn so that you can hang them in your window.
Hang one of these light catchers in the window or string several together for a colorful mobile.