This whole melting-crayons thing is all over the internet right now. On Facebook, on Pinterest, I have seen it just about everywhere. I have also seen all different variations on this project: adults melting crayons on huge canvases as art to schools in Phoenix leaving the crayon projects outside in the hot sun to melt.
At any rate, it just seemed to cool not to try. I, of course, took my own variation on it. First of all, I wanted to be sure each child had the opportunity to experience this science-art hands-on. Which meant they would not just watch the crayons melt, but they would make it happen. Second, I wanted the children to choose their crayons to put more free-choice into the project. Third, while I wanted each child to be able to make their own creation and be able to take it home, it was not exactly in my budget to run out and buy each child their own brand-new box of Crayola crayons and a canvas (Between two classes, that would be about 30 students and since I like to make art myself at home, I know canvases can get expensive). However, we did have a large bag of used crayons on hand at the preschool, and there is always plenty of construction paper.
This activity worked really well for the week the children were learning about the letter C. We talked a lot about crayons and colors. Also, since we are a Catholic Christian School, we did a lesson that day about something else that is made of wax and begins with C – candles. They learned about and saw first hand what candles are used for in church. But I digress. Back to the crayons.
We’ve been talking a lot about liquids and solids with the children, and we’ve been exploring these properties in different ways. This time, I pulled out a crayon and we talked about it. Is it a liquid or a solid? What is the crayon made out of? What happens to wax when it gets hot? After discussing, I pulled out a hair dryer and we tested the kid’s theory of what would happen when I heated up the crayon. Sure enough, the wax started to drip.
We told the children we would be doing art and science at the same time. I absolutely love when art and science meet. Those are my favorite kind of activities (and often the children’s favorite, too). At free play time, we set up two hair dryers, one for each side of our easel (we discovered very quickly that we needed to plug them into different outlets if we wanted the both to be running at the same time!). That way two children could work at once. We let the kids choose about four or five crayons and tape them to the top of the paper. We did not mess around with hot glue or anything like that. As long as the crayons still had paper on them, the tape worked just fine. We put the crayons at the top to get the full effect of the dripping. Next time, though, I think I might let the children tape the crayons any way they want to and explore what happens!
It took a good bit a patience for the children to wait for the crayons to get hot enough to melt, but once they did, the kids got so excited! “Wow, look, there goes red crayon!” “Now blue is dripping!” And because anything of this nature becomes a race to children: “I think green is going to win”
The students were really good scientists for this project, making all kinds of observations about what was happening with the crayons. They noticed one hairdryer made the crayon wax drip down the paper, while the other splattered the wax more (it had a stronger blower). Some used both thick and thin crayons and noticed they melted at different speeds. They noticed different colors melted faster than others. They even noticed certain crayons (the cheap ones) although colored, melted clear.
I found it to be a very fun, educational and successful project. To go along with this project, in addition to the candles in church lesson, we read “The Crayon Box That Talked” by Shane Derolf and talked friendship and teamwork. The children also had a lot of fun color mixing with paint at the art table.
Have any of you tried this crayon project with your children? How did it work out in your classroom (or home)? Post your comments and let me know your tips and suggestions!