Corrine Yanis’ middle school “Crayon Melting Project” is not just a chance for in-person and remote students to use crayons in an unconventional way; it also allows them to create a project representing “who they are” while learning and reinforcing important life skills in an inventive, multi-purpose lesson.
“Students chose an image, quote and crayon colors that represent them,” she explained. “I have found over the years of doing this project that students take a bit to choose their image and quote. It pushes them to be self-reflective and assess their own lives and personalities. I find out so much about each student: What they love, what their hobbies are, and the things in their lives that they cherish. So many of them create this as gifts for members of their families and discuss their reasoning when presenting. We find out what it important to them and what makes each student unique.”
Later, they glued the crayons on a canvas, drew their images and wrote their quotes and melted the crayons.
And, Ms. Yanis stressed, a project like this is important in developing skills such as time management, self-expression, adaptable thinking, planning, research and public speaking.
“The students complete a brainstorming page and sketch a rough draft before beginning their canvas,” she said. “They practice executive functioning skills such as planning, self-monitoring and time management. They plan out their project before beginning, but also have to be aware that after melting the crayons, the canvas may not come out exactly as they expected.”
As in life, they need to be able to quickly practice adaptable thinking skills for things like covering up certain parts of their canvas with tape, using palette tools to scrape parts of the melted crayon off and changing directions if the crayon isn’t melting the way they wanted.
“Since melting crayons does not always come out as planned, they have to practice being versatile in their thinking and flexible with their vision,” she added.
Many of Ms. Yanis’ eighth-graders volunteer their lunch periods to come in and work with the seventh-graders on their projects.
“They become mentors to the younger students and get to teach others, which is a great skill for them to practice,” she said. “It ends up boosting their confidence and independence. I love seeing them feeling comfortable enough with a new skill that they want to teach others.”
Students used Flex Wednesdays to present their creations to the entire class.
“Presenting their project while at home helped with all students being able to engage with the presenter regardless of if they are an in-person or fully remote student,” said Ms. Yanis.
Help from many sources
A project like this is possible only through the participation of others.
“I am beyond appreciative of the community member, students, parents and guardians, and fellow educators that have donated their materials and time to helping me organize this project,” Ms. Yanis said.
Many students brought in their own supplies, but those who were unable to were provided supplies by the donations of others. Some students brought in extra materials to ensure that all people in the class would be taken care of while others came in during lunch to help other students with their creations.
“Thank you to all who sent me supplies, provided inspiration to students and helped them with their planning,” she added. “It’s so nice to be involved in something that brings everyone together.”
See more photos on the district’s Facebook page.