This begs the question: what does a librarian do with a giant box of unused crayons? My answer was simple: make them into something people will use. I began this project in time for Earth Day, which isn't a holiday we make much of in the library, but which I thought tied in well with what I was doing.
First, I peeled a bunch of the crayons. Then I broke them into smaller pieces. I melted these crayons in a muffin tin in a 250 degree oven for about twenty minutes before allowing them to cool on the counter. Once they were cool, I flipped over the tin and out popped some crayon disks, each composed of crayons that are generally the same color. Once I made several of these crayons, I started making mix-up crayons, each composed of a variety of colors, so that kids who want to could color in blue, yellow, red, orange, green, purple, and black all at the same time.
I now have a box of upcycled crayons that my patrons can use at programs. I also set out a representative sample on our passive craft table, along with some scrap paper for coloring and a flyer explaining to the parents how to make these crayons at home. I will definitely be bringing these out at our toddler story time, since the disc-shaped crayons are much easier for little hands to hold and use.
Things to Note:
- As with all programs involving fun things, I would avoid placing too many crayons out on a table unsupervised, as fun library things tend to disappear when no one is around to watch them. I put out a small representative sampling of our crayons and have saved the rest for programs or other times when I can keep an eye on them.
- Have someone else peel the crayons for you. Maybe make that part of a program - help peel the crayons and break them apart, and next time you can color with the new crayons!
- Our muffin pan now has some semi-permanent crayon stains on it. These can be eliminated through several washings, but if that will bother you, use muffin papers or get a muffin pan that you don't mind being the "craft pan."
Have you found any ways to "upcycle" items in your library?