Happy National Crayon Day!

March 31: Celebrate the invention of crayons and the joys of creative expression

Reibman Hall Children’s Center Teachers,

Today I received one of the most exciting things ever. So full of possibilities. You will never guess what it is. But it is stupendous, amazing, an opportunity, an invitation. One of the best things about it is, it’s available and ready to use anytime I’m feeling creative and want a little color in my life. It is a tool that is inspiring and helps me tell my story.  Are you ready????? It’s...............A NEW BOX OF CRAYONS! 

Do you remember how you felt the first time you opened 64 or 48 or even 8?  

National Crayon Day is March 31, and it's a day to celebrate the invention of crayons, along with the joys of creative expression.  It turns out that Europe was the birthplace of the “modern” crayon, a man-made cylinder.  The first crayons were made of a mixture of charcoal and oil.  Later, powdered pigments of various hues replaced the charcoal in many early 19th century products.  It was then discovered that substituting wax for the oil in the mixture made the sticks sturdier and easier to handle.   

Crayola (formerly Binney & Smith) developed their own line of wax crayons in June 1903.  Binney & Smith coined the name Crayola by combining the French word for chalk, craie, with the first part of oleaginous, the oily paraffin wax used to make the crayon. Certainly, many other American companies have produced many varieties of crayons.   

The diversity of crayons is also like the diversity of people, personalities, character, color, and beauty.  The crayons, like people, are amazing and unique.  Along with having their own WOW factor, crayons have distinct smells, colors, brightness, dullness, thickness and thinness.  They can be straight, or bent, or even round.  People- they have gifts and talents, ideas and dreams.  That diversity helps each one of us standout in a beautiful way. 

Fun facts about Crayons:   

  • The world’s largest crayon was made by Crayola.  It was 15’6” and weighed 1352 pounds.
  • The smell of crayons is the most recognizable scent for adults.
  • The first eight pack of crayons was sold for five cents.
  • There are over 120 crayon colors, with more that are retired or special edition.
  • According to Crayola, the average child wears down 720 crayons by their 10th birthday. 

Activity Suggestions - from Reibman Hall Children’s Center Teachers, focusing on the arts-integrated curriculum framework for young children called Art as a Way of Learning®:

  • Textured Creations: Color a picture, then take a crayon that is broken and use scissors, or even the end of your fingernail, and shave little pieces off and glue them to the paper, where you have a beautiful colored picture and then a glued creation of the shaved crayon on top of it. 
  • Cool Experiment: One of the coolest accidental experiments involved crayons forgotten on the playground on a hot sunny day. The children were amazed to see the melted crayons!  
  • Muffin Tin Crayons: Save bits of broken crayons and melt them together in old muffin tins in the oven (adults, please) to make muffin tin crayons.  Try a variety of color combinations.  What a great way to reuse crayons into something new. 
  • Rubbings: Collect leaves.  Tape the leaves underneath a blank piece of paper.  Let the children explore with a crayon (using the tip and/or the side) on the other side of the paper.  Crayon rubbings can also be done using additional objects in nature:  tree bark, blades of grass, etc.  Indoor objects can also be used for crayon rubbings such as sandpaper, bubble wrap, textured material, etc.
  • Sculptures: Create sculptures with broken crayons and a mortar made from flour or sand and water and a bit of glue.
  • Science: Put crayons into clear plastic bottles for a science focus and then heat the bottles (adults, please).  Cool to a safe touch and then move the bottle around to explore the consistency of the liquid while mixing the colors.
  • Sensory Exploration: Wrap different materials around the crayon.  This is a great sensory exploration.
  • Discovery: Crush or shred crayons (i.e. a metal grater).  Put the small pieces on paper to rub with hands or feet.  What happens?
  • Inquiry: Will crayons melt under a heat lamp?  For scientific observation change and record keeping, set up an aquarium for viewing.  Add more crayons each day while the heat lamps are on them.
  • Crayon Resist:  Draw with white crayons on white paper.  Use watercolor paint to see the design you created.  This technique is very effective for landscape work or nighttime sky work.  
  • Crayon Painting:  Color a design with white crayon on white paper and them paint over it with shaving cream paint (shaving cream mixed with tempera) / colored foam paint, or draw numbers and letters with the white crayon and then find and identify the numbers and letters by painting over them. 
  • Slime Coloring: Shave crayons down and use the shavings as a coloring pigment in slime or oobleck
  • Calming Bottle: You can add the shavings into a clear bottle with water to make a calming bottle. 
  • Crayon Lantern:  Using shaved pieces of different colored crayons, create a design on a piece of wax paper. When design is finished, cover with another piece of wax paper and then cover that with a light cloth/towel and iron over the cloth/towel (adult supervision required) to melt crayon design.  Once cooled, accordion-fold the wax paper design, trim top and bottom evenly, tape ends together to create a cylinder shape and place over a flameless candle or tealight.