Friday, June 16, 2017

Recycling Crayons

Today I'm going to share something that I started doing last year to stop some of the waste in my classroom: crayon recycling!

I don't know about you, but it drives me crazy every time I see broken crayons in the trash. They still work, but my firsties just don't like using them.

So, I took an old cardboard box and fancied it up with some duck tape (the flamingo kind, of course) and a label. You can get your free label here.

My firsties loved the idea of recycling their broken crayons and were very good at putting the pieces they didn't want in the box. Some of them were too good at it... we had to have a discussion about breaking crayons on purpose. 😒

Once I had a good number of crayons in the box, I started peeling the wrappers off. Not my favorite thing to do. Luckily I discovered that my kiddos LOVED peeling wrappers! I set it up as an option for when they first came into the classroom in the morning. Some of them chose to peel crayons over working with their morning tubs!

Now came the fun part- making shape crayons!

I had started collecting fun silicone molds and ended up with a pretty good variety of different shapes. You can get them on online through Amazon or I also got a couple from Michael's and Joann's with coupons.

I have some mini shapes,

some bigger shapes,

and some that I save for special events. 

(I haven't used the pig mold yet. I was thinking it might be fun to give out a piggie crayon when we finish reading all of the Elephant and Piggie books next year!)

I just found this one at Target last week- hashtags! I think my kiddos are going to LOVE this one next year!

So, here is my process:

I preheat the oven to 225 degrees and get my molds filled on the baking sheets. I use some cookie sheets I got from the Dollar Tree specifically for this purpose. They can get messy and I didn't want to use the same pans I use for baking.

Once the oven is preheated and the molds are filled, I put them in for 20 minutes to start. I check them after the 20 minutes are up. Most of the time, they are all melted, but they occasionally need more time.

Once the crayons are melted and out of the oven, I leave them to cool. To be honest, I don't really keep track of how long it takes, I just check occasionally. 

I love how pretty these ones turned out!

When they are completely cool, I pop them out of the molds and they are done! 

Occasionally, the crayons don't make it out of the mold in one piece. 

When that happens, I just pop them back in the oven and the pieces melt back together.

One thing that I noticed is that different brands of crayons melt differently. Crayola crayons are by far the best for making shape crayons. They melt evenly and the color doesn't separate from the wax. But, let's face it, we don't always get Crayola crayons! Other brands work, but you may need to leave them in longer and there may be a stripe of gray/beige wax at the bottom of the crayon. I was worried that my firsties wouldn't like them, but they love the stripe effect, so no problem here!

Something else to keep in mind is that twistable crayons do not melt. I'm not sure what it is about them, but the few small pieces I tried kept their shape.

So, what do I do with all of these fancy shape crayons? I sell them in my classroom store! They go for three flamingo bucks each and they are the most popular item in my store! Some kids use them, some just collect them. I don't mind as long as they are not being played with. 

Well, that's it for my crayon recycling! 

As you can see, I've got a massive tub of peeled crayon pieces to get through this summer. Gotta get the store stocked for next year! 😄

Thanks for stopping by!