Melting Crayons = Art + Science

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How many thousands of broken, half used crayons do you have in your supplies? If you are like me, probably a lot. I have a hard time getting rid of them because they are still useful, they just are not as appealing as brand new ones.
One of my favorite things to do with these broken crayons is to make multi-colored crayon chunks. You can do this at home with your kids or you can also do this at school with your students. Either way, the young people in your life will become fascinated with the way the crrayons melt and will make  great connections to other waxy products in their life.
First, have the kids take all the paper wrappings off the crayons. It’s a good thing to have some kids who are finished early become crayon “helpers” by pealing off the paper. Kids love having a “special job” in the classroom.  As the kids peel, have them sort the crayons into color groupings. You could always have other students have the job of crayon sorting. Turn peeling into a “race” and have tables of kids challenge each other to see which table can peel the most crayons in 5 minutes. If you want to speed up the process of the paper peeling off, let the crayons soak in water to soften the paper.
After the crayons are pealed, put an assortment of crayons in a plastic sandwich bags to keep them sorted. The students then pull colors out of the bags, break them into small pieces and place them into a greased muffin tin. You can also use the paper liners instead of spray cooking oil, and the paper will peel off after it cools. Place the muffin tin in a 200 degree oven for about 10 mintues, or until all the wax melts.
It is facinating to see how the crayons melt and mix together. Have a discussion about the melting process. Do some colors seem to melt faster than others? Why? Do smaller pieces melt faster than larger ones? Why? The kids are wonderful observers and can make interesting connections when watching the crayons melt.
If you want to do this type of project in your classroom you can use a electric skillet. Line the skillet with alumnimum foil, to pertect the surface, and place the muffin tins on top. Place the crayons in the muffin tins and put the skillet on a low temperature. If you have a document camera, place it above the melting tin and project the crayons onto your whiteboard so the kids can observe, as a group, how the crayons are melting. Ask them questions, such as, why are the crayons that are touching the metal melting faster than the crayons in the middle of the tin? What if we covered the muffin tin with aluminum foil, what will happen with the melting? Talk about the crayons in a solid state versus a liquid state. Many students will watch this and make the connection to candle wax melting too.
Use the finished crayons to make texture rubbings of leaves, bricks, rubbing plates, and then use the rubbings to make a collage.
What other ideas do you have for repurposing crayons?

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