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Learning Laboratory: Shaped crayons

my attempt at tree-shaped crayons

This activity was a combination of our sun-upcycled crayons and our candy making adventure. It’s much too cold to melt crayons outside at the moment (too cold to snow even, actually…), but I decided to try melting crayons in the candy molds. Can you tell those are Christmas trees? I had the brilliant realization halfway through that I probably should have used green crayons to actually make them look like trees…

candy mold destroyed by crayons

Of course, we could have made more using green crayons, but given the difficulty I had getting the crayons to melt, the state of the mold, and my children’s rapidly declining attention spans, I decided to stop.

Things I learned:

  • The importance of considering the color of the crayons used and their effect on the appearance of the finished product
  • Sometimes candy molds melt at lower temperatures than crayons
  • Different brands of crayons melt at different temperatures
  • Different colors of the same brand of crayons melt at different temperatures

Things my kids learned:

  • Sometimes Mama really has no clue what she’s doing
  • Sometimes Mama makes a big mess
  • You can melt crayons in the microwave

I’m thinking it’s a good thing we have a high-up, over-oven microwave! Has anyone ever made shaped crayons using candy molds successfully? If so, can you help me work out where I went wrong? I’m thinking a silicone mold with crayons in the oven would work beautifully – has anyone tried that?

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Learning Laboratory is about learning through hands-on experience, for fun and education – even when it means making messes and mistakes!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

14 thoughts on “Learning Laboratory: Shaped crayons”

  1. I’ve heard you can use silicon molds in the oven. I’ve also seen people use metal cookie cutters with aluminum foil around it. I’ve actually been thinking about doing that.

  2. I tried these last week in cast iron molds in the oven. The molds had never been used or seasoned but were letter shapes so I thought it would be fun. I tried spraying the mold with cooking spray, but when they came out, they had a bubbly white film on the face of them. Then I tried them without spray and they wouldn’t come out at all. Ultimately, my kids just learned your #1 and #2 lessons, as if they didn’t know that already. I would love some suggestions on how to make these work!

  3. I like the metal cookie cutter idea too – I think that would work great! I can tell your trees are trees; I think you are being much too hard on yourself. It looks like they came out great to me. :) It’s a bummer about the molds though. We used a silicon muffin pan, and it worked fine, but there was a bit of crayon residue left on it after I popped the crayons out. It washed up just fine with a little extra elbow grease. I’m thinking next time we’ll spray with non-stick spray first, or use the cookie cutter idea… I have a feeling the metal would be easier to clean up.

  4. We have used silicone ice cube trays from IKEA in the oven before. I expect you could use the plastic trays in the oven too. The microwave heats things up so unevenly, that might be why you melted the plastic trays? But maybe they just won’t work. No, wait! I have melted crayons in plastic candy trays before! In the oven it worked fine. Low slow temperature. I wouldn’t really want to use anything for food that I had melted crayons in though, so we only used the ones that we decided we were converting to ‘art’ purposes.

  5. It’s the first blog post I’ve seen telling me that something might go wrong with this craft. All others I read proceeded to have beautifully shaped perfect shaped crayons. I am still not brave enough to try this craft, because of the possible mess, but I like the idea of foil and cookie cutters.

  6. Elisa | blissfulE

    Your shaped crayons look awesome!!

    I can’t imagine it being too cold to snow… brrrrr!! I’m so relieved Emma has a quiet coat made by her clever mama.

  7. This post makes me laugh! Well, even if they aren’t tree colored they are tree shaped:-). I have so many projects that have turned out like this one. Pretty much every “mom” craft I do is a washout–LOL!!

  8. I laughed all through this post…because I just had a similar adventure with my kids last week. We did use a silicone mold to make snowflake shaped ornaments to send to grandparents. The only problem I had with the silicone was that some of the wax stuck to the mold, but I was later able to get it off after putting it back in the oven for a while to soften it up and then scrubbing really hard. I also tried the microwave but the crayons melted very unevenly. And I had put them in little Dixie cups with the idea that I would then pour them into the silicone molds after. That resulted in lots of melted wax (from the cups) on the microwave tray, which Peter was nice enough to clean off later that night when he discovered it (I may or may not have been pretending I didn’t notice since I had plenty of other messes to clean up by the end of our crayon melting adventure. :). I would like to make some more so that we can have some of the ornaments for our tree – we ended up just keeping the lumpy microwave batch and the ones in the oven came out much more even and the colors weren’t as mixed up. I love the beautiful swirls of color that came from the oven ones.

  9. I have no suggestions, as I have never even made them in any kind of mold. BUT I have a huge stash of broken crayons already unwrapped and ready to go. I just have to figure out what I want to use to mold them.

  10. I’ve made them using a silicone heart baking sheet in the oven and they worked fine – the soft bendable tray meant that you could pop them out of the mould easily. http://uklassinus.blogspot.com/search/label/Valentine
    Now my bloomin’ husband has thrown out my mold, though. My next idea is to use the cheap ice cube silicone mold from Ikea instead – but I plan on melting the crayons in the oven, then pouring them into the mold. Goodness knows if that will work…

  11. You stated: “Learning Laboratory is about learning through hands-on experience, for fun and education”

    I think your failure to properly melt the crayons was a huge success. Teaching children that it’s ok to fail is a great thing. So many individuals never try things in life because at an early age it was ingrained in them that failure was a bad thing. No…Failure and trying leads to many successes in life.

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