Long ago, my brother-in-law sent me a link to a crafty mother's blog. Why he came upon it, I do not know. But, I am glad that he did. I check out Zakka Life frequently. Not only is she a talented lady who also enjoys knitting for her kiddos, but she also lives in Hawaii and her blog reminds me of good times I've spent there. Ah.
More recently, my sister sent a link to amazing mae, another crafty mother. I immediately (I cannot stress how quickly this actually happened) tried her tutorial for making swirly heart crayons out of tiny crayon nubs and rubbery ice cube trays. I used trays I already had from Ikea. The result is beautiful color-swirled crayons that are now useful again, and loved by children. For me, it was easier to remove the crayons from the molds while they were still just a touch warm.I also made these as Valentine gifts for my students. After telling them not to eat them, it was exciting to see fifth graders enjoy the feel and smell of a "new" crayon and appreciate that it was a handmade gift. It was easy to find enough crayon nubs from my classroom crayon tub, as the kids always pass over the tiny bits in search of bigger, whole crayons. So, now I have a little box in the classroom dedicated to crayon nubs. The kids are now very aware of filling the box, rather than throwing crayon bits on the floor or in the garbage can. In the future, as I find new ice cube tray shapes, it will be a great way to create fun, "new" supplies for the classroom.
Most crayons are made from petroleum. Yuck. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, takes many many years to biodegrade, and is not a happy thing to find lingering in your water supply. Crayon nubs may seem small, but if they stack up in our landfills, that is not a good thing. Why not turn them into a "new" product and keep them out of the landfill altogether? Recycling at it's best!
*Side note: My favorite brand of crayon, which I buy for my daughter to use, is Stockmar. It is a German brand, made of beeswax. Not only am I keeping petrochemicals away from her young skin, but she also colors among the joyous smell of beeswax.... Yum. Petrochemicals are known as possible carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. All the more reason to look for soy- or beeswax-based crayons for our children.