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Recycling Crayons

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Open a fresh box of crayons, lean in and take a deep whiff of that new-crayon smell. Ahhh. There's nothing as satisfying as those neat rows of perfect points. But what if your kid's crayons are broken nubs, worn down by heavy coloring? You can make it all better with a little oven treatment. Mix together the old, too-small stubs and melt them down. The resulting implements —  multicolored, reconstituted crayons shaped like bottle caps — look good enough to eat.

materials

  • crayons
  • a heavy knife
  • a muffin or mini-muffin tin
  • foil or glassine muffin-tin liners

instructions

  1. Peel the paper off the crayons. (If the paper stubbornly resists peelings, soak the crayons in cold water for about 10 minutes.)
  2. Chop the crayons into smallish pieces.
  3. Place the chopped bits of crayons into the lined muffin cups.
  4. Bake the crayons in a 250-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the wax is melted.
  5. Allow the tin to cool, then remove the crayons from the tin and the liner.
  6. Go color like crazy.

You could also use candy molds to make crayons in fantastical shapes, but you'll need to line the molds or consign them to crayonmaking permanently. Using full-size muffin tins results in colorful chunks that little hands will grab and grip easily. With older kids, experiment with other oven-safe household items for molds — tin cans, glass jars — and you can play with color mixing as well.

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