The little one wanted to make something for a 3 year old friend’s birthday, so we whipped up some handmade crayons and a gift tag to accompany them. Learn from our mistakes – join us for a quick recap and a laugh.
When I told her we could gift handmade crayons for a friend of hers, I regretted it 2 seconds after it was out of my mouth. I will admit it, I was scared. I am a klutz in the kitchen and I really like my hands burn-free. I had visions of tripping while holding the pan full of scar-inducing hot wax, sending it splashing all over the place.
I am not kidding – this is the stuff I think about at 3 in the morning – insomnia is not a pleasant bedfellow. Here are my (somewhat jaded and hopefully humorous) set of instructions on how to make these. At least the printable label is cute…
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Step 1: Remove paper.
Conquering my own fear of melting like the wicked witch of the west, I enlisted the little one’s help in peeling the paper remnants from the crayons.
Lesson learned #1: if the paper is glued on, move on. The little one would pull off the majority of the paper, but I ended up using a paring knife to cut off the paper that was glued to the crayon. A little wax lost, a lot of frustration saved.
Step 2: Chop the crayons.
Chop the crayon remnants into small pieces (about a half of an inch) and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
We were using our mini muffin tins that we use for all of our crafts, so we needed smaller pieces of crayons so that none would hang over the edge of the cavities. We also made some in a shaped cake pan, and I’d really recommend that for handmade crayons for the younger set.
Lesson learned #2: chop the crayon remnants into smaller pieces when the little one is faking her way through ‘nap time.’ You would have thought I was water boarding her favorite stuffed animal with the wails she let out when I chopped up the pink crayons. Tip: join in and scream, too. It’s a great stress reliever.
Step 3: Load up the muffin tin.
Let the three year old spend 45 minutes choosing the perfect crayon pieces to add to the muffin tin.
Lesson learned #3: just do it yourself when they aren’t looking. This whole project would have taken 30 minutes and not hours if the crayon whisperer wasn’t involved.
Step 4: Cook ’em.
Cook the crayons for about 20 minutes, checking after 15. No lessons learned here – this part was actually the easiest bit. Before you remove them from the oven, make sure all of the crayon pieces have melted.
Let the crayons cool. This was the most excruciating 30 minutes of my daughter’s existence, apparently. After they’ve cooled in the pan, dump them out onto a wire rack for another excruciating 30 minutes (or more) for them to completely set. Keep lifting up your children to show them that the crayons are a) still there and b) not ready yet.
Lesson learned #4: consider this your strength training for the day or do this craft after dinner so that they will go to sleep and magically awake with prêt à l’emploi (ready-to-use) crayons. We checked on them more than 30 times in 30 minutes, which as you can imagine got real old, real fast when you’re lifting 30 pounds up to the counter each time.
Elise chose her favorite ones to gift and keep (she’s three, not enlightened). I made a free printable bag topper and she helped me staple it on a party favor cello bag.
Lesson learned #5: don’t use the cheap crayons or make them in another batch. I noticed that the ones that came in our various coloring kits didn’t work as well as those that were Crayola. Next time, I don’t think I’ll mix them together.
This was a great discussion activity about heat, wax, displacement, and reuse. It turned out that my fears of this project turning into a hot mess were just needless worrying after all. Here’s a handy-dandy image in case you’d like to share this to a “Crafting with Kids” board on Pinterest.