Friday, January 7, 2011

DIY (with Preschoolers) Recycled Crayons Tutorial with a Science and Sensory Diet Twist

In our family's Free Christmas Gift Exchange, I drew the "recycle" slip.  That served as the catalyst for a variety of Advent opportunities to demonstrate "loving others" (which part of our Rule of Seven) through working together to create and test fun gifts for family members.  The first of these was Do-It-Yourself Recycled Crayons -- a sensory-friendly preschool craft with some learning connections, too.  Here's a How-To Review

1.  Practice fine motor and one-to-one correspondence skills by placing a paper cupcake liner in each section of a muffin tin.  (Or, if you want funkier shaped crayons, try using some silicon baking trays.)

2. For some large-motor proprioceptive and vestibular input, go on a hunt throughout your house for every small or broken crayon bit you can find.  Then, get those fine motor skills to work peeling them!

3.  If any of the peeled crayons are long, work hand strength by breaking them into bits.

4. Use the pincer grasp to place all the peeled crayon bits into muffin tins, sorting them by complimentary or contrasting colors.  Add a bit of color-mixing theory to the activity by discussing what the resulting crayon colors might be -- avoiding mixes that will make dull grays and browns!  (If you wish, for extra tactile input, sprinkle glitter into the cups.  For olfactory input, add scents.)

5.  Then, after doing a little science-minded prediction about what might happen to the crayon pieces when they are heated, pop the tray into an oven, pre-heated to 150 degrees F, for 15-20 minutes.  Leave the oven light on for eager eyes to witness if their predictions are correct and be sure to take the tray out when the crayon pieces seem just melted, but not bubbly. (While checking the crayons, if you realize too late - as we did - that a few non-wax coloring pieces got mixed in - note the yellow and green bits below - just roll with it!)

6.  Carefully have an adult remove the tray from the oven, showing it from a safe distance to eager young ones.  Then, after taking advantage of the inherent science lesson on matter and how it changes from solid to liquid due to the heat of the oven, place the tray in the freezer.  Or, if it is cold enough like it was here when we made our crayons, just put it outside.  (You can take a toothpick to swirl the colors a bit if you wish before freezing the crayons, which can add a little more color mixing and visual interest to the activity.)  While you wait for your recycled crayons to freeze, have a little tactile sensory fun playing with all the leftover wrappings.

7.  Once the melted crayons have frozen, have another quick lesson focused on the affect of cold temperatures on liquids.

8.  Then, get those fine motor skills working again peeling the crayons.

At this point, your recycled crayons are ready to test, wrap and gift, or use.  

(Just be sure that, if you are gifting them, the recipient knows what they are.  One of our young nieces actually tried to nibble hers, thinking they were homemade Christmas edibles.  Ooops!) 

This post is being shared at Life as Mom's Frugal FridayCheck out the links there for more budget-friendly ideas.


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