When we do coloring in school, I have always found that my students would prefer to use the perfect-new-long-sharp crayon right out of the box as opposed to a half broken one. My students were constantly fighting about who could use the newer red crayon, or oohing at the group that just received a new batch of crayons. What we as parents and teachers know is that when the crayon is short it gives off the same color as it did when it first emerged from the box. What we sometimes forget is that for small hands the shorter crayon can be harder to hold and maneuver.
Nevertheless throwing out those broken crayons is a waste of money and materials, and having them sit in a bag somewhere is a waste of space!
Here are some useful ways to put those broken crayons to work… I loved doing them with my students in school and my campers at camp. Please remember that all activities should be done with adult supervision. When using the stove or matches, please be extra careful and try only to have the adult close to the hot surface.
1. Do a sorting activity.
Lay out all the broken crayons on the floor. Ask your child to identify the different colors that he sees and put one of each in a line.
Then take index cards, or scraps of paper, and write the name of that color. Put the one broken piece that your little one picked out right below that word.
Then have him continue to sort the rest of the broken pieces into piles with the same color.
Afterwards, have a discussion about the findings. Here are some questions you could ask:
- Which pile has the most? The least? How do you know?
- Why do you think some piles have more pieces than others?
- How could we figure out which pile has the most?
- What are some things that are each of these colors? (spinach is green, strawberries are red, etc)
You can then store the different color piles in baggies with the card that says their color for easy reference.
2. Seal the bottom of flowers to hold in the water (to make traveling with them easier)
This was a great suggestion from the florist where I get my weekly flowers ( they sell 2 dozen roses for 10 dollars!).
Take your old crayons and peel off the paper. Put one end under a lighter just for a few seconds to melt it. Drip it onto the end of the flower.
The wax will help seal in the water, so you can travel with the flowers without having them in water. Then you won’t have the issue like I did, many times, where the vase spills all over the backseat of my car. Now, if i were to put a vase filled with water anywhere near Sloane, I would have the worst mess to clean up EVER!
3. Color in cracks or dents on old furniture.
When Sloane began to crawl we decided to get rid of our gorgeous and fashionable yet dangerous coffee table. The metal legs and sharp edges were just a disaster waiting to happen. I wanted to get some kind of coffee table that was easy to move (for floor playtime) and that was free of sharp points in case Sloane fell against it.
I searched and searched and found a whole host of great options. Unfortunately for me, everything I found was either way too expensive ( like this fabulous ottoman from West Elm for $500) or was going to take way too long (like I’m talking 12 weeks) to get.
Lucky for me, I found this great soft ottoman on wheels at Angel Street Thrift Store. It was right in my price range but had a few dents, dings and scratches to the wooden bottom. I took a picture and sent it to my mom, asking for advice on if I should purchase it or not ( making sure to show her the cracks in the wood). Well, when she saw how perfect it was for me, and that I could have it right then she said YES. And her exact words to follow were ” use a brown crayon to color in those cracks and no one will ever even know its not brand new”.
Well that’s exactly what I did. And look
What do you think of my fabulous find? Do you think it looks like new or what!
4. An abstract watercolor. Best for ages 3 and up
Supplies: crayons, white paper, paint brush, water. Before you start, set out your materials on a work area that can get a little wet, and then house the painting until it dries.
Take the paper off your crayons. A great way to do this is to soak them in water for an hour or so.
Lay the crayon flat on the paper and move it back and forth to create a wide line. It’s best to do this on a smooth flat surface, with nothing underneath the paper. If you don’t, you get a textured background.
Do this a few times with a few different colors.
Then take your paint brush, dip it in water and paint the sheet of paper with the water. The paper will get wet but you will see the colors start to run.
Let the sheet dry for a few hours, or overnight depending on how wet it is.
You can get an inexpensive frame from a crafts store, michaels, or even Walmart. Frame your child’s work and hang in their room.
5. Make melted crayon picture art
Supplies: blank canvas you can get at a crafts store, broken crayons, glue, and a hair dryer.
Before you begin, discuss with your child if you would like to make a pattern with your colors, or just put them randomly on the canvas. If your preschool child is still having trouble with patterns, check out these easy and fun worksheets from kidslearningstation.com to do with your child to help understand the concept. If your child is a around Kindergarten or Grade 1 age, here is a fabulous computer game to work on patterns.
Once you have chosen your style, either patterned or not, lay your crayons out on the floor next to the canvas in the order you would like to glue them.
The next few steps are best explained with visuals from 52kitchenadventures.com.
There are only two differences between this explanation and what I usually do. Instead of using perfectly new crayons, I use the old broken pieces we have been collection. Instead of using a hot glue gun, I use a glue stick, or elemers glue (I don’t have a glue gun)
Hope you have fun making it!
6. Make homemade multicolored crayons. Make fun shaped crayons out of your broken stubs. Take a look at this wonderful explanation from Lolli over at BetterinBulk.com.
If you have done any learning activities or crafts with broken crayons please comment and let us know!