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#4049. Recycle Old Crayons for Earth Day

Art, level: all
Posted Wed Apr 8 04:33:52 PDT 2009 by Marilyn J. Brackney (Marilyn J. Brackney).
The Imagination Factory
The Imagination Factory, Columbus, Indiana, USA
Materials Required: Crayons, newspapers, old towel, silicone candy or muffin pan, utility knife
Activity Time: One hour
Concepts Taught: recycling, conserving natural resources, color mixing

Recycle Old Crayons for Earth Day

What do you do with stray crayons or ones that are too short with which to color? You melt them to make crayon cookies, of course! This is a fun and easy way to recycle old crayons, and it will help save money. Recycling crayons also conserves energy and natural resources that would be needed to make new art materials, and giving crayons a second life keeps them out of the landfill.

You will need:

Crayons
Newspapers
Old towel
Silicone candy or muffin pan
Utility knife

How to:

The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. All other colors are made by mixing varying amounts of two or more of these together. However, if you combine all of them, you'll get an ugly brown! That's why it's important to pay special attention to the colors you choose to melt together.

If you mix equal amounts of two primary colors, you'll get the following:

Red + yellow=orange
Red + blue=purple or violet
Yellow + blue=green

Orange, violet, and green are called secondary colors. If you add a primary color to a secondary color, you get a third type that's known as a tertiary (TER-she-air-y) color. For example, adding more red to orange yields red-orange, while adding more yellow will give you yellow-orange.

Colors that are related will blend nicely, but mixing those that are opposite each other on the color wheel will turn brown. For that reason, it's best to use all blues and greens, blues and violets, reds and oranges, reds and violets, yellows and oranges, or yellows and greens. For added interest, you may want to add white, silver, or gold crayons to the mix.

Now that you know a little more about color, you're ready to make a crayon cookie. Cover your work area with newspapers. Peel the paper covering from the crayon, and have an adult use the knife to score it in four or five places so it will break easily. Snap the crayon into small pieces and place them into one of the openings in the silicone pan. Continue filling the section with similar colors until it's nearly full.

Move on to the next section of the candy or muffin pan, and fill it with broken crayons that are related or similar in color. When you've filled all the spaces, you're ready to make the crayons into large “cookies.” The safest way we know to melt the crayons is to use natural heat, so we'll let the power of the sun help us.

If you live in a warm climate, just place the silicone pan in the sun. You can speed up the process by putting the crayons in your car's trunk. Protect the floor with an old towel and a newspaper. Depending on the weather, it may take several days for the crayons to melt.

When the tops of the crayon cookies are smooth and flat, they're done. If you used your car to melt the crayons, have an adult remove the pan and other materials. Allow the cookies to cool and become solid. Working on newspaper, carefully pop out the shapes, and you're all set to color with your new crayons!

Tips and Tricks:

For the best results, melt only regular crayons, not washable or the soy-based type.

Using a silicone pan will allow you to easily remove the crayon cookies.

Besides coloring with the crayon cookies, use them in arrangements or as decorations during the holidays.