I like the idea of holidays, even those like Valentine’s Day that have become wildly commercialized. They give me a chance to come up with crafts, activities and games to do with my kids. We get to talk about the holiday and why we celebrate it. We had a good time talking about love and sending cards to the special people in our lives.
This year, my daughter’s preschool class is celebrating by exchanging Valentine’s with the other students. So what we will be stuffing in the little bags? Something colorful for sure!
One cold and boring day over the Christmas break from school, I had my kids go through all of their crayons and find all the broken ones that they no longer used. We also asked friends and family for donations of crayons because we just didn’t have enough. We took a few hours and peeled the labels off of them while we watched movies.
Here’s a little tip: some of the crayon labels are nearly melted on after much use–especially in our house. If you can’t get the label off, use a razor blade or box cutter and slice the label length-wise down the crayon. From there, the label will mostly just fall off, saving yourself hours and hours of time scrapping the labels off. While you might think it’s no big deal, it will be under your nails for weeks!
Once all of the paper was removed from the crayons, we broke all of the colors up into smaller pieces to fit inside heart-shaped molds that we just happened to have. We only had four, and with a class of 20, this took some time. I priced out purchasing a few more molds, but they were too expensive. I am thinking about going to the stores the day after Valentine’s Day to see if I can snag a few at a deeply discounted price so I can do more than two at once.
One thing we did learn is that the pieces don’t have to be as small as we made them. In fact, if they are a little larger, the color holds truer inside the mold after it’s been heated.
Once we had all of our little pieces, we mixed them up really well so the colors were spread out and diverse. Then we put them into the heart-shaped molds. We filled our first round pretty full, probably about three to four layers of crayons. We learned in later iterations that we don’t need that many, one layer is enough. The more crayons, the thicker the final product, obviously.
We pre-heated our oven to 250 degrees and placed the molds on the middle shelf of the oven. I had read all over just to leave them in for a few minutes, but mine took more like ten. I guess there is sort of a trick to it. You want the crayons to get soft, but not melt completely, otherwise the liquid will blend together and basically make a black blog. You want thy crayons to melt evenly otherwise you will have globs of hard crayons that stick out from the other smooth pieces once they have hardened. I found if I waited about 10 minutes and removed them ever so gently, the colors didn’t run together and it still formed really nice shapes within the colors.
Once the crayons were out of the over, I put them to cool for quite a while. I waited until the crayon appeared to be separating from the mold before I assumed it was done. I would then tip the mold over and put the crayon on the counter to finish cooling it. Once I knew it was all the way cool, I would give it to my children to play with, or put it into a bag for preschool Valentine’s trade.
Try to use the thin crayons. The thicker crayons take too long to melt. If combined with the thinner crayons, it just creates a mess.
My kids were so excited to use these crayons that they waited in front of the oven until the first batch was done. (and yes, my dog is totally cool with the sitting like that).
Once they had their treat, I bagged up the others to be send to preschool when Valentine’s Day came to be.
The part of the project that you don’t see here, are the tags. Using a kid-writing font in Photoshop, I made takes that said “You COLOR my world” and then my daughter signed gift tags that I attached to each bag with a twist-tie. It was a super easy project that made me feel like I was really involved in a holiday and a project for my daughter’s school. Not to mention, the three of us had a great time making each of the crayons for her friends.
Other notes: I found it took about eight crayons to create one of the molds. When I ran out of our own crayons and the donations, I just went to the dollar store, Dollar Tree. I was able to get packages of eight-crayons in a four-pack for $1. This made things easy. The paper came off easily, they melted quickly and they were super cheap.
I will use this for all of our broken crayons in the future. The appeal of one giant crayon to a two-old is like the appeal of spreadsheets to my project manager husband. She LOVES them. She can hold one, scribble and get tons of colors from one single crayon.
The final product?