Managing Materials: Crayons

cat-header-crayonSoldiers

I’ve been teaching for a number of years now, and I’m officially cray-zy about crayons. Crayons sometimes get a bad wrap. They’re so common and older students often think that there’re “only for little kids.” If you get creative, however, you might begin to see new possibilities for using them.

When I did my middle school student teaching placement, my cooperating teacher taught an 8th grade lesson using crayons. I was a little skeptical. Crayons? With 13 and 14 year-olds? One trick she used was buying the 64 color class pack of crayons.

Seeing the box of colors brought back memories… I remember watching how crayons are made on Mr. Rogers. I remember eating Mexican food at a local restaurant with my parents and coloring together while we waited for our food. I remember my parents buying me my own set of 120 colors. I loved learning the names of the colors. Names like “sea green,” “mac-and-cheese” and “purple pizzazz.”

Another one of my cooperating teacher’s “tricks” is that she taught her students how to use them. Students gathered around and she taught them how to blend colors by overlapping/mixing them together to create new colors. The students were amazed at the options and possibilities.

Another plus is that crayons aren’t very messy. (I love getting messy sometimes, but I also love it when clean up can be done quickly. A quick clean up means more work time!)

IMG_5550 melted crayon hearts for Valentines Day.JPG

The downside to crayons, however, is that they break. And if you hold them too tightly, or at the wrong angle, or drop them… you end up with a lot of broken crayons. Because of this, I collect the broken bits and melt them into “super crayons.” One of the special materials on my ATC cart is a box of “warm” and “cool” melted crayons and plastic texture plates that students can use with watercolors.

In addition, I make melted rainbow crayons and occasionally give them to students at the end of the year. (Sometimes homeroom teachers collect broken crayons. Last year when our school had to pack up and move to our temporary school, a few teachers donated old crayons to the art room.)

For a great tutorial on how to melt your own crayons, follow this link. (I skipped the freezer step and just had the molds/crayons cool to room temperature. I also soaked some of the crayons to help the wrappers come off more easily.) Also check out this BuzzFeed article about a California dad who came up with a creative way to give broken crayons a new life. 🙂

Happy coloring!

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