"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

08 May 2015

Upcycled Crayons

I was digging in our craft supplies closet at the library the other day when I came upon the box where crayons go to die.  You probably have seen its twin: a large plastic tub full of brand-name and generic crayons in a wide variety of colors and conditions.  This is a great box to have if you are doing a craft involving crayons, but most children will avoid digging through such an overwhelming pile of crayons just to find the one they want.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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? 

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