A couple nights ago we had dinner early, so there was plenty of time to oblige when the kids asked me to make chocolate chip cookies. I pulled out this project to keep them busy while they waited for dessert.
I saw a few versions of the firestarter project in various places online this summer, and started stocking up for it. The craft is extremely simple to do, and the kids can do a lot of it themselves. One of my 6-year-old’s favorite things to do is to come up with uses for egg cartons, and I love getting rid of the nubby crayons. We build campfires and fire pit fires a lot, so this is a good lesson on recycling things you’d never normally use again into something useful.
We used the instructions from Chico & Jo as the guideline.
You should read all of these instructions before starting this project yourself. You’ll be pleased to read how easy it is to make this run as smoothly as most every other undertaking with children.
Recycled Firestarters with Chocolate Chip Cookies.
- Chocolate chip cookie stuff
- Paper Egg Carton
- Dryer Lint
- Old crayons (preferably Crayola or better quality so you don’t poison yourself too much with toxic melting crayon fumes. You can find the melting crayon safety info around here somewhere.)
- Empty Can
- Old saucepan
- Old newspaper
- Preheat oven and start making cookies with your 4-year-old boy. Have your 6- and 8-year-old girls start peeling crayons. You may want to put down old newspaper on the table before you realize that the girls are using toothpicks (that you have absolutely no idea where they got them from) to help peel the crayons and there are little lines and swirl markings from crayon crumbs all over the table, floor and chairs from the 1½ crayons they’ve managed to successfully peel in ten plus minutes. Help girls peel a few crayons quickly, because the boy will have eaten half of a bag of chocolate chips before you get back to him.
- After you get the cookies into the oven. Fill the saucepan with a couple inches of water and get it simmering on the stove over medium heat. Place peeled crayons into the can. Place can into the saucepan with water, double boiler style, as described by Chico & Jo. Find out that the can floats and you have to rig something up to kind of sort of hold it down.
- While you are searching through the kitchen drawers for something to hold down the floating can that just won’t stay down, give the three children the egg carton and pile of dryer lint. Have them pack the dryer lint very tightly into the egg carton compartments. After a few minutes, separate the dyer lint into three piles as far apart from each other as possible and scramble through the recycling bins for 2 more egg cartons because three children cannot work together to pack one dryer lint pile into one egg carton. Do not get upset that you should have thought of that, be grateful that you’ve had to do two billion loads of laundry while putting this project off and you have a huge supply of lint. Do this quickly, because your solution for pinning down the can was unsuccessful and its bobbing around again.
- You’ll need more melted crayons now that you have more egg cartons. Scramble to peel more crayons. BUT, not so quickly that your 6-year-old accidentally tosses a whole peeled crayon into the saucepan of simmering water instead of the can for melting wax (which is floating again, quickly pin it back down before even more wax spills into the pan). If the crayon in the wrong hot receptacle issue happens in your house, don’t worry, this will only leech 35 minutes of your quiet-after-getting-the-kids-into-their-beds alone time. You’ll need to scrub the pot with scalding hot water, every abrasive you can find in the house and burn yourself as a last ditch effort to clean it by heating the pan on the stove and frantically trying to wipe out the wax while it’s sort of melted, but only rubbing it into a thin layer of now permanent wax.
- When the cookies are set and the bottoms are a golden brown, remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Get ready to pour the wax. I used the parchment paper from the cookie sheets to put down over the crayon crumb streaked and now also covered in a layer of lint from the dryer lint table before we poured the wax. Once the cookies are out of the oven, if you need to remove the can of melting wax from the hot water accidentally placed crayon bath to attempt and fail to wash the pan, you can put the can of melting wax into the still warm oven to finish melting. You’ll think you are clever for having that idea, so attempt to keep that smile as you try not to drop the can of half melted crayon on the floor, counter, or your clothes, or to curse in front of the children when you are holding the can and suddenly remember that that sucker has been sitting in boiling water and it is really hot.
- Once the wax has fully melted, remove the can from the oven or double boiler. Test out every pair of hot mitts in the house before realizing none of them will give you the dexterity you really need to comfortably hold and pour a hot can of molten crayons into the suddenly sounding ridiculous dryer lint filled egg carton compartments without burning yourself or the three little closely monitoring faces or altering the beautifully crayon crumb artwork decorated table. Choose the hot mitts that might look the cleanest in the picture your 8-year-old will take for your blog. Put the can back into the oven to re-melt for a few minutes because you took too long finding the hot mitts and it became chunky.
- Pour the melted crayon wax over dryer lint stuffed egg carton compartments. You may want to forewarn the disappointed children that it melted into brown wax and not the gorgeous swirl of rainbow assorted colors they expected. Allow them to look at the beautiful crayon crumb stained tabletop, chairs and floor for the delightful color array they imagined.
- Once you pour your entire supply of wax, you will have filled 4 or 5 of the 31 egg compartments. Calculate that no matter how tightly you packed those compartments with lint, you will need between 1600-1800 peeled crayons to fill them.
- Ignore the layer of dryer lint covering the table, and sit back and enjoy warm cookies on your now colorful tabletop. Bask in the silence and satisfaction brought to you by the children’s mouths being full of gooey cookies and a project completed with concepts in teamwork and recycling. Wonder why you had to peel the crayons, if they are just going to be burned, wouldn’t paper wrapper only add the desired slow burning effects? Contemplate the absurdity of any project that requires dryer lint, or combining children and firestarting, and how wonderful tightly twisting the old newspapers that you saved by never remembering to put down on the table will work as fire starters. Appreciate your 8-year-old’s skill at humor and smack talk when she asks “Mom, you really saved dryer lint for 3 months, for this?”
I hope your family will enjoy this project as much as I enjoyed sharing it with mine. Thank you Chico & Jo.