Wednesday, March 16, 2011

my #1 use for old broken crayons

hi, my name is rachel, and I’m a mom.

if you’re a mom, chances are, you’ve encountered this:crayons_10

broken crayons.  it’s a fact of life and it’s annoying. well, sort of. there are actually dozens of uses for old broken crayons. today’s post will highlight just one of them.

you may have done this one before:ARRANGE-THE-BROKEN-CRAYONS-IN-A-MINI-MUFFIN-TIN

these are muffin crayons. you take an old muffin tin (I picked one up at a thrift store years ago and use it for this, paint, sorting other small crafty type things, etc. while good in theory, and popular among preschool teachers, I really find this lacking. here’s why. kids don’t like to color with muffin shaped crayons. first of all, younger kids, unless shown, have no idea what to do with them and will ignore them. if you tell them they’re crayons, they’ll try to hold the thing flat against the paper and rub back and forth. this is okay, for the experience, but once they’ve done that a few times, they put it back and are done with it. how do I know this? I have a set of muffin crayons that I made 4+ years ago. I had them in my classroom all year, and have had them in my house or my mom’s house ever since. they’re still there. they seldom get used.

so I wanted to find a way to make crayons that are more like ‘crayons’. I got really excited when I saw the ad on tv for the crayola crayon maker.91mQIHSODZL__AA1500_

it seemed like the perfect thing! until I learned that it cost like $40 and took forever to just make 4 crayons. wrong. I’m not that rich OR patient, and neither or my kids. and so the search continues.

I decided to just figure it out on my own. I wanted to use the muffin tin theory, but make long, skinny crayons, as opposed to flat, round ones. something like this:021

that was my first attempt. they turned out a little bit long, so I tried again the next day, this time with a shorter ‘mold’. what’s my mold?024

that’s right, foil. when you can’t find what you want, you make it. I carefully folded it in a modified accordion style, with flat bottoms, and high divisions. then I pushed in the ends of each section, trying to make them leak-proof. 032

meanwhile, layla was frantically peeling the wrappers off the broken crayons for me:026

sometimes, it’s fun to make your crayons all mixed up. I decided to keep like colors together and make relatively solid-colored crayons:023

I turned the oven on to bake at low heat (yes, I need to clean that):031

I didn’t trust the leak-proofness (yes, that’s a word because I say it is) of my molds, so I took a cake pan and lined it with foil. I suppose if you wanted to, you could designate an old pie tin or something for this, but I don’t happen to have one, and I want to be able to use my cake pan for cake again sometime.033

then I put it in the oven:034

it’s kinda fun to watch them start to melt… good thing I put them in the pan, my greens leaked a little. (excuse the crazy brightness of this picture – photographing foil is kinda hard to do, especially inside an oven.)042

when they’re completely melted, turn off the oven, and CAREFULLY take remove the pan. if you’ve used mixed colors, you shouldn’t do this because the slightest movement can make your colors mix and become all muddy. just turn off the oven and leave them alone until completely hardened.043

when they are completely cool and hard, you can carefully pop them out of the mold. this is where it’s awesome to have them in foil. way easier than a hard metal mold:   044

these turned out to be a much better size and shape than my original long ones:   046

but the real test:048

layla decided to use them on the warming tray, which just melted them again. but she used them to color this as well, so they seem to work pretty well!001

I’m thinking there’s got to be something out there that would be like what I did, but a less ‘disposable’ and rickety method than foil. I really haven’t looked. and honestly, considering I don’t plan on doing this very often (right now, because I’ve used up all the crayons in the house), unless I could find it for a dollar or two at a thrift store, I’d probably be unwilling to pay for it!

stay tuned for another use for broken crayons… just as soon as I can find some more!

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