It’s that time of year. Time to send classroom Valentine Cards for the kids at Vinnie’s Preschool.
I get a bit of anxiety when it comes to distributing things out to the kids. So much so that I buried my head from Halloween last year through Christmas.
He kept coming home with little goodie bags filled with healthy-ish treats and little knick-knacks. It is truly sweet to see the joy it brings him. He runs in, sits on the living room floor and dump out the contents, showing me each item one at a time.
I’d love to spread that moment of joy to other kids but get hung up on the waste. The life span of the little knick-knacks is pretty short in our house. We have our own clutter to worry about.
So Valentine cards for the kids, I took to Pinterest for ideas and landed on a project of upcycling crayons.
I added the mini activity book with a couple of coloring pages and some stickers fastened to the back.
My hope is that the kiddos fill up the pages and then when they forget about it and mom/dad comes across it later they can appreciate it for the joy it sparked (hello @mariekondo) and then recycle the mini book, hopefully keeping the crayon.
If I can give a mum or dad 10 minutes of a distracted toddler and then guilt-free disposal, well, my job is done. #giftgoals
So here it is! With full instructions below and a free activity book printable for you. I hope you use these Valentine cards for your kids classroom.
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DIY Crayon Valentine Cards for Kids
I’ve always wanted to upcycle crayons. I love the idea of taking something I would have tossed out and making something new.
Confession: we are just getting into crayons. I stuck with the Color Wonder Mess Free markers for a while to keep the walls clean. This meant that we didn’t have a bunch of old crayons to upcycle this time around so we bought these.
And hey, if you are not interested in (or don’t have the time to) upcycle crayons you can still use this idea and do one of two things:
- Pop over to Etsy and search for heart-shaped crayons. I love using Etsy to support small businesses and fellow crafters.
- or ditch the heart and just fasten a couple of crayons on the activity book. Wham Bam.
Full Supply List:
- Homemade heart-shaped crayons (instructions below)
- Mini activity books (click here to download). This will be used as your valentine cards for the kids.
- Stickers to attach to the back
- Adhesive – I used these little glue dots, but if you have a hot glue gun that would work perfectly
- Washi tape – I added this to the spine of the coloring page, completely optional but adds a nice detail
DIY Heart Crayons
To give you a good idea of how many crayons and how much time you will need:
- For optimal filling and thickness with the silicon mold that I got it takes 3 crayons cut into 5 pieces even.
- A box of 24 crayons should make 8 hearts BUT I didn’t use the black so I would say each box makes 7 hearts.
- To have 24 heart crayons I needed to use 4 boxes, which gave me 28. Vinnie has gladly adopted the extras.
- It took me about 30 minutes to prep 7 heart crayons – from out of the package to into the mold, ready to go in the oven (instructions below)
I ordered everything off Amazon. I really wish I could take some time pursuing the craft stores, but it’s just not in the cards for me right now. (Pun intended! Haha…what? Not funny? Okay, let’s keep going.) Here is the full list of supplies needed to make your heart shaped Crayons:
- Crayola Crayons – I ordered 6 boxes of 24 crayons.
- Heart-Shaped Silicon mold – I stuck with the heart one although I was really tempted to go with the dinos. Perhaps next year.
- X-Acto knife – These things are really freaking sharp. I learned that lesson the hard way (see below)
- Cutting board – I used a wooden one that we already had. I placed a thin piece of cardboard (last night’s frozen pizza box) as a layer to protect the cutting board when cutting the crayons. Pro tip: My amazing mom (a long time crafter) showed me how to speed up the cutting process. She drew two parallel lines on the cardboard to mark the size I wanted to cut the crayons into. Embarrassingly I was measuring and marking each crayon before she came along to spare me.
- Knife – again from home, I used the biggest one we had.
I went with Crayola crayons (and not the washable kind) because all of the tutorials I read on upcycling crayons mentioned that these work best. I didn’t test this out myself but it makes sense as other crayons seem to have a higher wax to pigment ratio – who knows if that is the reason but it sounds pretty smart.
Step 0 – I wouldn’t preheat the oven until you are closer to needing it. The oven is set only to 220F/105C so it won’t take much time when you are ready.
Step 1 – Exacto knife the wrappers off all the crayons. Do not, I repeat, do not hold the crayon in your left hand and x-acto with the right or vice versa. There is a very good chance that you will slice into the hand that is holding the crayon. Specifically the tip of your left ring finger. Trust me. Place the crayon on the cutting board and hold the pointed tip firmly between two fingers while slicing down. Don’t have an x-acto? You can peel the wrappers off. Soaking them in water for 30 mins prior will make them pull off easier.
Step 2 – Cut crayons into the desired chunks. I put two parallel lines (thanks mum) on my cardboard/cutting board to measure and cut each piece in an orderly fashion. To save time you can totally break crayons, I’m a bit too…particular for the random crayon break. I used 3 crayons cut in 5 even chunks. If you want them a bit thicker you can use 4 crayons cut into 4 chunks. I wouldn’t go thinner as I think the heart crayon would be rather thin and could break easily.
Step 3 – Place crayons in the mold. As you can see I took the time to stand each up. Time Saver: it still looks cool if you just dump them in. But there is something satisfying about standing them up. It made me feel ‘artistic’.
Step 4 – You are going to want to pre-heat the oven fully. Place the mold on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven. It will take about 20 minutes give or take a couple according to your oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes, then check on 2-minute increments until there are no gaps and the top is smooth. The longer you leave it the more the colors blend. Try to take it out as soon as it’s heated through. The melting crayons can produce fumes so put your fan on to clear the air quicker.
Step 5 – Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let the crayons cool completely. It only took mine about 45 minutes to cool out in the open. If you want to speed that up, once it is just warm (about 20 mins) you can put it in the freezer or fridge.
Step 6 – Remove crayons! If there is a light film of clear wax on the top you can shave it off with your knife or x-acto (carefully!).
Clean-Up: You can clean the crayon wax and residue off the mold by washing with hot soapy water and a brush. I started with my bottle brush then immediately regretted that. I ended up using an old toothbrush which worked perfectly.
Mini Activity Book Instructions
I got the idea for this mini activity book from Pinterest (obviously…inspirational links provided below). I loved the idea of a little book made out of a single sheet of A4.
Honestly, I was going to send the valentine cards with empty books as I think toddlers might even prefer blank pages but then I got excited about all the cute Valentine messages I could play with.
If you don’t have a printer on hand you can just use blank pages and write a cute message on the top page. If you do have a printer go ahead and grab this free printable and follow these directions:
- Fold the page with the long sides touching (hotdog style) with the printed sides out (blank pages are kissing each other). Then unfold the page and lay flat.
- Fold the page with the short sides touching (taco style) with printed sides out, keep folded this time.
- Once again, fold long sides touching (hotdog style)
- Cut down the middle seam only to the next fold (see photo below)
- Open the paper completely, make the first fold again and then squeeze the diamond in as shown in the photo.
- Fold the book around the cover page.
- Using your adhesive, stick a couple stickers on the back and add your washi tape to the spine.
- Attach your crayons to the front and there you go, you have your Valentine Cards for your kids classroom!
Final Valentine’s Props
There you go! Cool homemade valentine cards for your kids to hand out that will get used, and in the end can be recycled away, guilt-free.
I really enjoyed the process, my personal favorite part was putting the crayon segments in the mold. Discovering color combo’s (valentiney, earthy, camo, sunrise) and switching up how I placed them, either random or purposely spread.
What was your favorite part of the project? Let me know if you gave this a try. If there are any questions out there don’t hesitate to ask.
Valentine Card Inspirational Credit
While Pinterest has a wealth of knowledge that I tap into daily, here are the 4 tutorials that I continually returned to:
- Withlovefromlou.co.uk – HOW TO UPCYCLE OLD CRAYONS IN 6 SIMPLE STEPS
- Momalwaysfindsout.com – HOW TO MAKE CRAYONS IN FUN SHAPES KIDS LOVE
- Innerchildfun.com – How to Make a Mini Sketchbook from a Sheet of Paper (EASY). Great video tutorial to help fold the book.
- earlylearningideas.com – BLANK BOOKS: 3 EASY-TO-MAKE BOOKS THAT WILL ENCOURAGE WRITING. One of which was the mini-book but the others are excellent ideas for future crafts
I asked my mom (who is a teacher) what they do with their broken crayons. She said that they collect them and once a year donate them to a company that will keep them from ending up in our landfill. The company recycles them and then passes them on to those in need.
There are loads of others that a quick google search will reveal.
It got me thinking how amazing it is that something so small, as collecting your broken crayons instead of throwing them away, or even running a collection program in your neighborhood could so positively impact someone else in need.