Recycled Crayons!

Recycled crayons are super fun and easy to make.I’ve kind of become obsessed with them recently, regular crayons are just too boring after these spruced-up recycled ones!

What you need:

silicone ice cube/ bake tray in desired shapes (make SURE they are bake-safe)

crayons (not to brand name drop, but Crayola crayons work the best for colorfastness after re-melting)

an oven

1. Peel paper off the crayons- this can be a time consuming step, i recommend popping in your favorite movie and peeling while you watch

2. Break or cut crayons into small pieces (small enough to fit IN molds but not hang over the edges too much), with the Lego people crayons I had to smash the crayons into tiny bits using a hammer in order to fill the mold without overflowing.

3. Cover a cookie sheet in foil and place crayon-bit filled silicone trays on top to catch any wax drips and keep them from smelling up your oven.

3. ‘Bake’ on low heat- about 300 degrees- for 10-15 minutes or until crayons are entirely melted

* If the molds seem only half-full of melted crayon after 10 minutes you can always add more small bits during melting process to fill them to the brim.

4. Let crayons cool COMPLETELY (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the density of the crayon mold) then press on the back of the molds to pop out your new- improved- crayons!

Amazon.com has about a million different shapes of silicone molds available- some shapes work better for crayon making than others. Look for shapes without too many small, fragile parts to avoid breaking. I’ve had luck with these Lego bricks and men, as well as larger pistol shapes.

**Make SURE you are using bake-safe molds- made of silicone, other ice cube trays will melt in your oven and make an awful mess (learning from mistakes here)

Have fun!

Lego men&bricks:

Crayon Pistols- bringing new meaning to, “Draw!”

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DIY Sensory activity- using something old to learn something new

Sensory experiences are how children learn about the world around them. This is a great (and super easy!) way to create a sensory activity for your home or the classroom.

Using old medication bottles, a bit of construction paper and small items from around the house or classroom you can create a fun, educational sensory activity.  I used a different color of paper and number for each bottle so that the kids could identify and sort their colors and numbers while playing.

What you need:

empty medication bottles or other small containers with lids (medication bottles work really well because the kids can shake them as hard as they want and the lids won’t come opened)

construction paper

clear tape

sharpie marker

a variety of small objects with different texture, weight and consistency to place inside- marbles, buttons, feathers, beads, screws, keys, corks, shells, pom poms, string, small toys, seeds, jewelry, stones, rubber bands, paper clips, magnets- anything that fits!

1. Gather up some old empty medication bottles:

2.Cut a piece of construction paper the height of the bottle and long enough to wrap all the way around, tape one end to the plastic bottle then wrap around and tape the other end securely.

3. Trace the lid top and the bottom of each bottle onto construction paper and cut out to cover the whole bottle so the hidden treasures inside stay hidden!

4. Number each bottle so the children can easily identify them, as well as practice their numbers.

5. Select a variety of small items with different textures, weight and consistency, shells, buttons, corks, yarn, beads, keys and place one (or a few if it is beads, marbles, seeds) in each bottle. Click the lids tight- kids like to shake the heck out of them in my experience!

6. Have the children sit in a circle where everyone can see and begin a discussion about the 5 senses and what we use them for.

7. Pass around the bottles, one at a time- I start with the number 1 bottle- have each child shake the bottle and describe what they hear.

Ask questions, “What does it sound like? “What do you think is inside?” “Do you think it is something hard or soft? Big or small? One thing or more than one things?” etc to create a discussion

Once each child has had a turn to shake the bottle and describe what they hear open up the bottle in question and pass around the item, or items, inside. Have the kids feel, describe, smell, (maybe not taste!) the items.

8. After all the bottles have been passed, shaken, described and opened you can ask the kids to talk about HOW they used their senses for this activity.

How did we use our sense of smell? How did we use our sense of sight? How did we use our sense of hearing?

Our senses:

Sight- children use sight to identify the color and number of each container, as well as to identify items and describe what colors, textures, patterns, shapes they see on the items once the containers have been passed around and opened.

Sound- when each bottle is shaken the item inside will make a sound (unless it is something sift- like a feather, which opens up a brand new discussion about how sometimes it SOUNDS like the bottle is empty but it really isn’t!) They can describe what it sounds like, compare to other things they have heard and try to figure out what the sound may be.

Touch- by passing the items around after the bottles have been opened the children can feel the texture, weight, consistency of each item and begin to make connections about the feel of an object and what sound it might make. Encourage describing words, hard, soft, bumpy, smooth, rough, fuzzy, cold, hot, and so on

Taste- this activity could be done using edible items like raisins, M&M’s, pretzels, if it is age and culturally appropriate (and sanitary) for the group of kids involved. Have kids taste test items and describe what it tastes like, is it salty? sweet? sour?

Smell- if the activity is done with food items the kids can smell before they taste and make predictions about how it will taste based on smell. They can also use their sense of smell for non-edible items for identification- shells, feathers and other items may have a distinct smell

Enjoy!

Add texture to your water color paintings- easy & fun kid project

Teaching Preschool I am always looking for new ways to do the same old projects. We use A LOT of water color paints because the colors are vibrant, they are washable and easy for the kids to use. The other day I was overjoyed to discover a NEW way (new to me, at least) of using our same old water colors.

This week we bumped our water colors up a notch by adding something fun, cheap and easy- salt.

Super simple-

1. Paint a beautiful water color painting

2. Sprinkle salt over the wet painting

3. Let paint dry and brush off salt to reveal an array of snowflake like textured patterns.

*experiment with adding salt to very saturated paintings and less saturated for different texture effects.

Here are some of the beautiful ‘salty water colors’ the children created. We are learning letter ‘S’ so our water colors are sharks and stingrays:

Another way to make simple projects a little more fun is to cut the paper into shapes. If I had handed the children each a regular 8.5×11 inch white paper and tried this same project they would have painted one or two splotches each, declared, “I’m done!” and run off. The shark and stingray shapes kept them interested with paint brushes in their hands for nearly 30 minutes- a classroom success!

It’s never too late to get back to what you love

After graduating from Art School with a BFA in Fashion Design I took a year  or so off from making art. 4 long years of being told what to create and when too create it, going through not-so-constructive ‘constructive criticisms’ and realizing that a job in the Fashion world = years of self hatred, eating disorders and depression lead me to try another path.

I was hired in a Preschool as a TA shortly after this realization and re-discovered my passion to teach. I went back to school for Early Childhood Education and now teach full-time in a great little school in Western Mass. Finally, five years later,  I have found the happy medium- teach all day&craft all night- i’m finally able to balance my two biggest loves in a way that works. It’s never too late to get back into something you love, never.

Here are some of my early pieces:

(please forgive my not-so-amazing photo quality)

‘Octopus’s Garden’ was one of the first illustrations after my ‘hiatus’

“‘The only reason to ever look back is to count the flock that now follows you.”

“Sing louder still from within the cage, Your voice is the key that will always set you free.”

“Transform” gift for my sister 🙂

“Full House”

Whooo doesn’t love some owls, seriously?

“Charging rhinos couldn’t keep me from you”  was the last piece I drew before leaving my home of 8 years in San Francisco and moving back  to Western Mass.

Looking back now I guess it is kind of a metaphor for my travels, or it could be just another artistic outlet. Either way, it is great to be back in the art. One thing I have learned: Don’t let charging rhinos- or asshole bosses, or non-supportive peers, or past relationships, or yourself, or anyone- keep you away from what you love to do.