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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How is a Crayon Made?

My inquiry project is about crayons: their history, why some colors have been retired, how they are made. I need more information, so it became an excellent opportunity in modeling for students how to get what I need. There is a 1988 book entitled How is a Crayon Made? by Oz Charles, and some of the information answers my questions. The fourth graders love the crayon tips on the cover, but they agreed that a 23-year-old book might not be accurate. Using our county library's online catalog, we located a 2003 book entitled From Wax to Crayon by Robin Nelson, and I requested that (and piqued their interest in trying that process from home).

Next, I asked the students' advice about searching for information. They wanted to start with Google, of course, and I was told to enter "how is a crayon made" in the search box. What will the search engine be looking for? I asked. One person thought it would answer the question! One person said it would look for "how" and "is" and "a" and "crayon" and "made". The rest thought about that for a few seconds. Next I was told to enter "making crayons". That search resulted in all sorts of methods for the process of crayon making, most of which they had all tried in pre-school classes! Finally, they settled on entering "crayons" only, and the results were much more appropriate. When I showed them how to use Google's Wonder Wheel feature, they could hardly wait to try it with their own topics!

I could hardly wait to take photographs of the snow this morning! Though I missed the opportunity to shoot the snow-covered daffodils in the courtyard, I did peer through my son's hockey net to view the neighbor's maple trees.


  1. What a wonderful lesson in real, lifelong learning you are modeling for these kids!

    Google's Wonder Wheel? That's news to me.

    I remember when I was young and the "peach" crayon was called "flesh." That's a positive change.

    My other memory about crayon colors and names is when Crayola had a contest (in the 80's, I think) to name their new colors. I was always disappointed that I didn't follow through and enter. Wouldn't that be a wonderful honor, to have named a new crayon color!

  2. We talked about the change of flesh to peach, and looking around the room, they knew exactly why that decision was made.

    I decided to use your memory of the color naming contest as part of my presentation to the kids next week, David! With your amazing contest experiences, I am shocked you did not enter that one!

  3. I also did not know about the Wonder Wheel, though I use Google every day. Your crayon quest reminded me of the joy of opening a new box of crayons--also, the very personal bond I had with my favorite box of colored pencils, which I still have . . .

    By the way, Julie, the occasional "Jim" that pops up here is just me, signed into our other google account by accident!

  4. There are many things we share, Joyce, but that love of new boxes of crayons and cherished colored pencils is yet another to add to the list.

    Thanks for explaining about the mysterious Jim. Now I'll know it's just your other half.

  5. Could we have a quick lesson in the wonder wheel?

  6. Sure. Search for something using Google. Then, on the left side click on "more search tools" to see Wonder Wheel. Click on it. Search for something again, and you'll get a web of possibilities. Sometimes it is interesting just to see what related topics emerge.