If you’ve ever asked a young child to, “wait a minute,” they’ll be inquisitive before that minute is up – heck, it might even happen before you’ve finished speaking! The concepts of time and patience are abstract, and difficult to grasp for concrete thinkers. That’s why I used the Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory to help teach time and patience to my almost 8 year old son with Autism.
This past Christmas, Torran understood the gifting aspect of Christmas, and of Santa, for the first time. After passing the Crayola aisle in Michaels craft store, he wanted to write a letter to Santa asking for Motorized Crayon Maker (which doesn’t exist). I knew I had to optimize upon his interest. I helped Santa out, and split the difference with the purchase of the Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory and the Crayola Motorized Crayon Carver.
The Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory retails for approximately $39.99 Canadian. I bought it on sale from Michaels.
This is a great product to add to your crafting shelf, particularly if you have a myriad of crayon bits and pieces, despite its few drawbacks. Years ago, Torran broke crayons into bits rather than colour with them. He enjoyed the sensory input of the snap in his fingers. As a toddler, he preferred to eat them. In fact, we went out for a meal one night and the hostess offered us a three pack of crayons and paper, asking if Torran would like it. “Oh, look,” I replied. “Appetizers.”
The Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory is Child’s Play
The Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory is child friendly
Crayola recommends the strict use of Crayola products with the Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory. Torran and I spent a lot of time going through every scrap of colouring bits that he has to sort out which crayons are for the melter, which are to be kept as whole crayons, and which are not going to be for the toy. Needless to say, Torran’s I’m-Always-in-Teaching-Mode mom used this as an opportunity to sneak in some reading and math skills!
The best part about the Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory is its ease of use. Torran broke three crayons into the melting tray. Too few pieces creates incomplete molds and too much over-fills the molds. Set the melter on a flat, heat-tolerant surface. He easily put the parts of the mold together and set it into the machine. Crayon, ring and car shapes are available (some sold separately). Insert the melting tray at the top, and ensure the pins are aligned into their holes. Since the pins are not secured, if the table or the machine, is bumped, the pins may mis-align, and the lifter won’t be able to tilt the melting tray. You and your child will have to wait until the entire cycle is finished before re-setting, as happened to us. An unexpected opportunity to teach about another abstract concept: the unexpected!
Waiting is the Hard Part
Once the molds are ready and the melting tray is properly aligned, simply close the protective cover and turn the dial of the Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory all the way to the right. A red light comes on to tell you that the unit is warming up. You won’t be able to lift the lid once you turn the dial, as it locks into place for safety.
The heating portion of the cycle lasts 10 minutes and the cooling portion, during which you pour the melted crayons into the mold, lasts 10-15 minutes. Torran had a concrete and slow-melting object to look at, while I reinforced the notion of “patience” and of time passing. Once the mold is complete, the instructions suggest letting it stand for a further 10 minutes before use, but I found it was cool enough to use much sooner than that.
Torran chose red, blue and glittery gold crayons for his first experiment. They were all Crayola crayons, but the glitter crayon took much longer to melt. All of the crayon wax wasn’t soft enough to pour after the first hot cycle. We heated the crayons three times before all the crayons had melted enough to pour out of the melting tray. How’s that for teaching about patience? The triple crayon mold didn’t fill completely with only 3 melted crayons. The wearable rings are quite big for children’s fingers.
The knob to tilt the melting tray is stiff for a child’s toy. Torran had a hard time doing it on his own, and keeping it in position long enough to drain completely. I’d prefer if the unit had some kind of locking pin for the pouring knob so the user doesn’t have to hold it cranked with their fingers.
A thick layer of wax remains behind, too hard to wipe out after the cooling cycle completes. Instead, I put the tray in my oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit to heat up the remaining wax. As soon as the wax softened, I wiped it out with a damp paper towel, then repeated as required. Because I used the oven, the melting tray did get very hot to touch, and could burn bare skin. Crayola does not suggest this as a cleaning method.
Sensory Information for Special Needs
The Crayola Melt ‘N Mold Factory is brightly coloured, typical of Crayola’s packaging. The smell of the melting wax is noticeable, but not overpowering. Torran had anticipatory anxiety over the sound of the timer, however, it’s only a low pitched whirring and he tolerated it well. Although there are loads of warnings inscribed on the unit about the hot temperature, I didn’t find it very hot to touch on the outside during the warming process.
Hints for Success
Break the crayons into more than three pieces. Smaller bits melt faster. Crayons from different manufacturers melt at different rates, as do different types of Crayola crayons. If you don’t want to repeat the melting cycle several times, try to consistently use the same kind of crayon.
The colours swirl together and your final product might turn into shades of grey or brown if you use too many dark colors, so alternate colours for a better swirling effect. If you use a dark colour, use lighter colours for balance and to make the dark swirl pop out. Make sure your home is warm, and I’m not just saying this because I live with a polar bear. I think the ambient environment affects how well the crayons melt. I’ll be interested in seeing what happens in the summertime, before the AC is turned on, as to whether or not I’ll be melting the crayons more than once.
The final product is a unique crayon that your child can be proud of, that creates surprisingly colourful masterpieces!