Monday, June 28, 2010

Recycled Crayon Questions Answered

This morning I received an email from one of my readers 
about melting crayon bits into new crayons - one of our
favorite recycling projects for crayon nubbins! 

So here's Laura's note and my answers
(in case any of you have the same questions!)

hi - good morning! i first want to let you know how much i enjoy your blog!  
i have used several of your ideas for my two little boys.  
thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas!  
as a mom who tries to go off the beaten path and nurture my children creatively, 
it's nice to have a  resource of activities for my children.

i have a (probably silly) question about  
taking broken crayons and 
 using molds to bake the crayon bits into shapes.  
thanks so much for your help!  and again, thanks for an amazing blog!
have a wonderful weekend! laura east hampton, ny

what kinds of molds  do you use and where do you find them?

I currently have a metal Wilton Mini(Cake?)Pan that we use as our
"designated" crayon-melting pan.

Ours happens to be heart-shaped so we use it at Valentine's Day
to make class valentines every year. 
(my apologies to the one or two kids who have been in the same class with my girls every year!)

Because the crayons contain who knows what, 
I only use the pan for this,  or sorting beads-- not for baking food. 
I wouldn't eat food in a pan that had been used to melt crayons!

I bought it at Michael's craft store in the cake decorating area years ago. 

I still see them all the time at Michaels and at Walmart.

do the crayons  pop out of the molds  without any spraying, etc?  
(can you tell i'm new at all this?)

Because I use a metal pan I spray it with non-stick cooking spray  
before I cook each batch- they pop out of the pan like a charm! 

what temp/ 
how long do you bake them for?

I bake our crayons at the lowest temperature
I can set my oven on... that happens to be 250 degrees
and they are fully melted in about 15 minutes 
(I leave on the lightand spy through the window)

I also run the exhaust fan or keep a window open
so the stinky crayon fumes don't kill us!

In the winter I set  the hot pan outside on our deck in the snow
to cool off or on the  cold concrete garage floor.

In the summer/spring, I just pull the pan out and carefully set it on our granite counter top to cool. 

I like to set our panon a foil-lined  baking sheet so if it sloshes or
spills I don't get  melted crayon wax in my oven or on my counters/floors! 

I use an x-acto knife or small box cutter to slice the paper labels on our crayons,
(one long horizontal slice --channel your inner surgeon)

It makes peeling them MUCH FASTER and you don't end up with all of those
crayon bits under your nails!

Thanks so much for the note Laura, I hope this answers all of your questions
and I wish you and your boys many wonderful afternoons filled with

I'm always happy to answer  your crafty questions here, just send me an email!

pink and green mama

Friday, June 25, 2010

Homemade Montessori Color Tablet Game For Three Year Olds - Handmade Montessori Materials

The first time I saw Hannah's Color Spools at Handmade Childhood
I KNEW I needed to make a set for me... um...I mean, for my own girls.

Just look at them... they had me at hello.

Beautiful wood.
Color Spectrum. 
Paint Chips

What could be more perfect for me....
I mean, for my daughters of course!

"C" and I ventured out to our local Lowes hardware store and found these beautiful
red Oak sticks that my sweet hubby cut into 3" blocks for us with his saw.

Then the girls and I spent several afternoons sanding the ends with little sanding blocks
while playing in the sunshine on our deck.

The girls did not have much patience for extended sanding so mama (and daddy) did most of it!

Then, we cut up some paint samples and mama got down with her
mod-podgey self and here you have the results.

UPDATE: Great questions from your comments... So, What to do with your tablets?
Montessori Color Tablets are usually used with 2.5 - 3 year olds.

1. Sort them from Darkest to Lightest.... or lightest to darkest.

Here is an eHow Article on how to use Montessori Color Tablets.

Here's another article on how to present them to a Montessori Student.

2. Teach Color Recognition. 
Name your colors (great way to teach toddlers colors)

3. Teach color theory - make a color wheel.
Red, Blue, Yellow  are the primary or FIRST colors....
Then, Orange, Green, and Purple are the secondary or SECOND colors
made from the first colors. 
My oldest daughter calls it "Color Math"

4. Make a Color EYE-Spy Game or Scavenger Hunt
Take a color tablet (or two, or three) with you and go on a scavenger hunt to find 
colors that match in the yard and garden, at the store, in the fridge, in the playroom.

5. Match your colors to your toddler's favorite books, clothes, or toys.

6. Try to mix the colors. 
(finger paint, washable tempera, or play dough)

Hope this helps to get you started!

We sure do like thinking we may need to make some more!

Wishing you and your family
a weekend filled with Rainbows!

pink and green mama

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

* Summer Fun: Green Craft Ideas from Pink and Green Mama Archives

As we are all preparing for that 
LONG summer break...
it's always nice to have a few crafty ideas up your sleeve
to break up some rainy/muggy/buggy afternoons
with some fun and green CRAFTIVITIES.

Bet you've already got the supplies for 
more than one of these right now!

Popping some of the Bubble Wrap 
is a "Must-Do"step
 before you start printing.
It's just cruel to tell kids they 
aren't allowed to pop it! 

Turn those Foam Stickers 
into Stamps!
You know you don't know what to do with that
bucket full of foam shapes you've had for 4 years!

This one is currently holding Bakugans and Fancy Rocks,
we also have one holding backyard treasures
like flowers and more fancy rocks.

A great way to use some bits from our
"Inventions Box" 

from our Mermaids and Pirates Birthday Party

Hello sock bunny...why the long face? 

make your OWN non-toxic art supplies!

The birds are still enjoying this one
in our front yard!

Channel your inner Lois Ehlert!

(with recycled cardboard!)
Save those backyard treasures
then use them in your art. 

(for backyard summertime adventures!)

We made cinnamon and peppermint.
Our current favorite is Kool-Aid Play Dough!

My all-time favorite
recycled craft project would be...
I made for the girls on their birthdays last year.
Both girls sleep under them at night
and I love the memories we all have from 
their little bits of favorite clothes.

Happy GREEN Crafting!


pink and green mama

Monday, June 14, 2010

Making Art At Home: My Favorite Art Supplies for School-Age Children

Here we are at  part three of my  series about my favorite art supplies to keep on hand for your kids. (I'm sorry they are SO LONG!)

If you missed part one:

Here's part two:

I still recommend the supplies from both lists for the Toddler years (ages 2-3)
and the Preschool years (ages 3-5) for School-Age children (ages 5-12)
but I like to add some more "sophisticated" materials to the mix. 

1. Love, love, love Caran D'Ache Water Soluble Artist Crayons

Draw with them like colored pencils or regular crayons, then add some water with a nice paint brush on good, student grade (or nicer) watercolor paper to achieve a lovely,  watercolor-effect. (I used to add these to my Monoprints  in college all the time!)

2. Sharpies

Yes, I know, these are not "green" or planet friendly and they are certainly NOT non-toxic!
USE IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA like the backyard.
but... you can get such cool effects 

If you know of a green alternative  for my beloved Sharpie markers
I would love to hear from you.  (My guilty conscience needs a break!)

3. Acrylic Paint

I use Folk Art Acrylic Craft Paint with my girls because it goes on sale at Michaels ALL the time! I also use Apple Barrel acrylic paint  for projects like this....

Poured Paint Backyard Gazing Balls and

Painting Fairy Houses

4. NICE Paint Brushes
You don't have to break the bank but, kids this age should have some "nice" paint brushes  in a variety of sizes. (save those Michaels half-off coupons!)

At least one Fine brush for detail work, a Medium brush for most painting and a Large Brush for covering large ares. 

Teach them to wash out their brush as soon as they're done painting (don't let it dry out) Sculpt the bristles back into a point while they're still wet (like styling it's hair  or combing out tangles!) Always store your brushes upright in a jar or glass to dry (not on their heads!)
Keep in a jar or a brush roll (like those fabric crayon rolls  everyone is making now!) 

5. Kite Paper

This beautiful, colorful, translucent paper is WONDERFUL for window projects like...

We get our Kite Paper from Palumba.  Fun for pretty paper airplane making too!

6. Oil Pastels I call them "Magic Crayons"

I love the way you can blend  colors with these creamy crayons. They CAN stain clothing. If you buy the adult kind, they are not non-toxic but children's pastels are available.  I use:
Cray Pas Junior Artist and 
Crayola's Portfolio Series Watercolor resists beautifully over Oil Pastel. 

7. Assortment of Beads and Elastic Thread

To make necklaces, friendship bracelets, doll accessories, eye glasses chains, etc.

Don't forget things like: recycled cut-up drinking straws alphabet beads buttons
home-made Magazine Paper Beads home-made clay beads silk flower petals.

8. Yarn
Great for finger weaving, hair for dolls, belts and ropes for imaginative play knitting, or weaving on a loom!

9. Small Loom

perfect for quiet afternoons... 
You can use a store-bought Lap Loom like ours.... or make your own with a piece of cardboard. We're planning to make an OUTDOOR Loom for our backyard this summer!  (Eek -Exciting!)

10. Blank Books
Kids this age love to write and illustrate their own books and journals. Encourage this  by providing them with an assortment of store-bought and home made blank books.

Sketch Books
Moleskine Journals

11. Their OWN Stash of White Paper

I like to give school-aged children an entire package of white office copy paper and a drawing pad. My kids and I love to keep packages of white CARD STOCK on hand for art and drawing projects. The heavier weight is great with pens and sharpies. 

12. Good Student-gradeWatercolor Paper and... 
if they really like to watercolor Good Watercolor Paper

13. A beginning Sewing Kit

Learning basic hand sewing and stitching is a foundation skill that will last a lifetime.

Embroidery Floss
Needles of various sizes
Embroidery Hoop
Muslin/Cotton fabric
Small sharp scissors
A threading tool (to help 
them thread their needles)

You can make your own Needle Book.

Christmas Tree Button Sewing Lesson

14. A place of their own to keep their art work

An Underbed Storage Box
Accordian File Folder  (from an office supply store)
A Drawer...
Both of my girls have their own "Paper BOX"  under their beds to keep art work,
school projects, home made books, etc.

We go through and purge/recycle  the boxes once or twice a year to weed out what we really want to keep. After a year,  I find that they are a lot  less attached to some of the work,
then you keep just a few of the really special pieces  that are representative of that age or school year for  scrapbooks, framing/displaying, memory boxes, etc. You can also take photos of their work and make it into a memory album. 

15. Modeling Clay

Model Magic
Sculpey Brand "Pluffy" Clay
Kids this age may feel that they are "too big" to play with play-doh but they will love working with clay (especially clay that can be  baked in the oven to harden/cure)

16. Mod-Podge
This water-soluble product is perfect for collage, sealing.
Sparkle, Matte Finish, and Outdoor Formula are our favorites!

17. Legos

Legos are wonderful for school-age children.
They construct  3-Dimensional sculptures and buildings (Architecture!)
They learn math and counting. It builds fine-motor skills.

You can make an idea book like we did here.

18. Flower/ Leaf Press

Make your own to save those beautiful blooms and leaves collected in the backyard and on nature walks. Great for collage and pictures!

19. Scraps 

Fabric, Felt,  Ribbon, Yarn, Cardboard, 

Paper, Tissue Paper, Aluminum Foil, Bubble Wrap
A wonderful resource for kids to  use as they need.


A wonderful resource for imaginative construction and 3-D work.
This is our catch-all for odd bits and pieces that can't be recycled but we don't want to 
toss in the landfill!

20. A Color Box
I always had one of these  for each table of students  in my art classroom.

A color box is a great way to 
recycle smaller scraps of colored paper
leftover from big sheets of paper.

Small scraps of colored paper I like to provide my girls (and myself!) with a small box
(a kid's shoe box works well for this) containing a spectrum of colored paper (scrapbook paper/construction paper) cut into small rectangles (approx. 4"x6") for various projects. 
This is nice for kids to use when doing collage and various projects but doesn't have as much waste as giving kids big pieces of paper (that they cut one tiny shape out of the center.)

What are your favorite art supplies for school-age children?

pink and green mama,

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