Monday, January 24, 2011

Broken crayons. We all have them.

I was cleaning up the school room-office-dining room yesterday and ran across another handful of broken crayons.

My response? Oh, goody, more broken crayons!! No sarcasm. Honest!

About three years ago, I met an occupational therapist that gave me some great ideas for helping toddlers and preschoolers. She said that broken crayons are a true treasure, seriously.

Here's the scoop. Contrary to my intuition, little hands really do need little crayons. If you ever watch a toddler or preschooler try to use the jumbo crayons, the only way they can hold it is to make a fist around it. They even struggle with a regular size crayon, until you give them a broken crayon. The only way they can hold a broken crayon is to put it between their index finger and thumb.... like holding a pencil. This occupational therapist said that she uses crayons for elementary students that struggle with properly holding a pencil. So smart!

Here's a picture of my youngest son. I gave him the full crayon, and this is how he grabbed it and began coloring.

At first, I didn't really believe her; so I tried it on my oldest son, who was two at the time. Whadayaknow... it actually worked! Until then, he never really enjoyed coloring. Now, this skill has helped him as we are now transitioning to writing with a pencil. He doesn't even try to hold it with his fist. So cool!

The next picture is my younger son, again. This is at the same coloring session. This is how he holds a broken crayon.

For my younger son (who likes things "just so") used to get quite upset with having broken crayons. So, we just take the wrappers off and turn those into a sorting game. How so? Most of us have muffin/cupcake tins, right? Well, I gave him a pile of broken crayons and helped him sort the crayons by color or by size. He loved taking the crayons in and out and in and out of the tins.

This game has been a favorite of my boys because it's not a typical toy. You know how it goes: kids would rather play with a pot and spoon rather than the billions of toys piled up in their room. One bit of advice, I would put a few pieces of paper under or nearby, in case they get the urge to start coloring.

So, broken crayons don't really have to go in the trash. Just unwrap them (this can be fun for little fingers and is a great fine motor-skill developer) and have fun!

I've also seen other bloggers suggest melting down the crayons to make into new ones. Just put broken, unwrapped crayons into a lined muffin tin and melt at a low temperature (lowest oven setting). When they are melted, don't stir! Let them cool and pop them out of the paper liner. The circle shape is fun to hold, too.  

Happy coloring!


Post a Comment