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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Crayons: A Kid Friendly Craft Project From Start To Finish

I know it’s late in coming since Valentine’s Day is well over.  I should have posted this one a few weeks before the big Heart Day so you’d have a chance to make these with your kids, yourselves.  However, this could work for any holiday in which you’d like to give a little gift and get your kids involved in a great tactile activity.  I’m thinking even St. Patrick’s Day with clover shaped molds and shades of different green crayons.  I’m getting ahead of myself…

After seeing a FB entry from Family Fun (one of my favorite magazines and a “friend” on Facebook) on a Valentine’s Day craft, I decided to plunge in and give it a try for ourselves.  Both the boys needed to provide valentines for their classes this year and I didn’t want to go super cheap—even though that’s my budget—
and get the flimsy cardboard valentines that 
require no thought, creativity or personal interaction on the part of the giver.  I know, I’ve resorted to them in the past out of necessity, when I just didn’t have the time or energy to do anything else.  They are easy.  But this year I had both time and energy and I wanted to something fun with the boys that they could be involved in.  Enter the homemade crayons…

These are a fantastic and easy craft project.  If your family’s like ours, with young artists in the house, we have tons of crayons of every color, in duplicate, triplicate and beyond.  We have whole crayons, pieces of crayons, crayons coming out of our ears.  Rather than just throwing them away or continuing to accrue them, I thought this would be a great way to recycle them and fulfill the necessity of valentines for the boys.

We began by gathering all the crayons we could find in the house.  I had the boys peel the paper off them (great for fine motor practice!) and break them into pieces.  Breaking them into pieces was a little tough and I took scissors to many of them to get the smaller pieces I wanted.  I don’t think this is necessary but just a personal preference on my part.  I used a muffin tin and had the boys separate the naked, broken crayon pieces into color family: all the yellows in this cup, the greens in the next one, blues in this one and so on.  This is great sorting practice and a color recognition exercise for younger kids.   

Once we had gone through all our crayons, I pulled out some heart shaped molds.  I happened to have some heart shaped ice cube trays but they were a little smaller than what I wanted.  I had hopped on 
down to the Dollar Tree before starting this project and found a set of small heart shaped containers (10 in the pack for just $1.00!) and decided they were the perfect size.  We just used the base of the containers since the lids were slightly domed and I didn’t want rounded crayons.

I had both the boys start putting crayon pieces of various colors in the heart shaped molds, filling them about 2/3 of the way.  The molds went on a cookies sheet and I placed them in a 250 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the pieces were all melted.  I have to say, looking at the molds afterward did not make me think this had been a successful enterprise.  The tops were a filmy brownish-gray color and I thought they were hideous looking crayons.  However, once the crayons cooled I popped them out of the molds and the bottom side was a beautiful mosaic of colors—exactly what I had been hoping for!
Using some suggestions from the Family Fun website, I printed out valentines—four to a page—on cardstock with little sayings like, “You Color My World” and “Have a Happy Valentine’s Day for ‘Crayon’ Out Loud!” and each of the 
children’s names from the
 boys’ classes.  The boys cut out the cards (again, great for scissor practice—I kept borders on the cards so they had a line to follow when cutting out) and taped their crayon hearts to each one.

The valentines came out fantastic! I loved that they were homemade, almost completely by the boys, themselves, and they did not involve candy (something that Cainan can’t have anyway).  The boys were also very proud of themselves for making the crayons and cards.  

Again, even though Valentine’s Day is over, this craft could be repeated with shamrock molds, egg or bunny molds for Easter presents, apples or schoolhouse molds as a teacher gift, etc.  The possibilities are endless.   
Give it a try and let me know how much fun you and your kids have making them.

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