Environment Lesson Plans
Posted Apr 11, 2016 by Elmers
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    Recycled Glue Stick Crayons

    Students will enjoy recycling empty Elmer’s Glue Sticks to reinforce the concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle. This fun activity has many tie-ins to math and science, but giving children an opportunity to create their own crayons will be the focus.
    • K - 4
    • 1 hr
    • Environment

    How do I get my class and myself ready? This lesson plan should give you everything you need to be prepared for the material.

    Lesson Plan Objective(s)

    Students will understand the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling to protect our earth.

    Students will practice sorting and classifying skills.

    Students will understand the difference between states of matter (gases, liquids and solids).

    Background Details

    Salad dressing bottles work well for this activity because they don't get too hot for students to handle and the mouth of the bottle is small enough to pour the melted wax into the empty glue sticks.

    Recommended Reading & References

    Don’t Throw That Away: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing by Lara Bergen

    The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca

    Bob's Recycling Day by Annie Auerbach and Vince Giarrano

    Eileen Green The Recycling Queen by Penelope Dyan

    Recycling by Rhonda Lucas Donald

    Materials Needed

    • Empty Elmer’s Glue Sticks (set up a recycling box to collect them prior to the activity)
    • Old crayons (with labels removed)
    • Heating element to melt crayons
    • Empty glass salad dressing bottles (clean and dry)
    • Note: This activity requires melting crayons with a heating element. Be sure to supervise students around the heating element.

    Required Knowledge/Vocabulary

    reduce, reuse, recycle, liquid, gas, solid

    Standards

    CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

    How do I present the material? Here is the recommended approach, content and timing for presenting the materials.

    Lesson Instructions

    Kick off the activity with by introducing the concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle to your students. A great picture book to share is Eileen Green The Recycling Queen by Penelope Dyan. There are many other great picture books to use as a springboard for discussion (see literature connection for suggestions).

    After reading the book aloud to the students, discuss the difference between recycling, reusing, and reducing what we consume. Explain that we can reduce the amount of products we consume by reusing things in new or different ways.

    Engage students in a discussion about things that we might throw away but that we could also reuse and/or recycle to reduce what we consume. Ask students if they can think of any way to reuse a tub of old crayons. Explain that they can recycle the crayons and create new ones by melting them down and pouring them into empty Elmer’s Glue Sticks.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Can you think of something you've discarded that you might have been able to reuse or recycle?
    2. How does reducing what we consume help our environment?
    3. Why is it better to recycle an item than throw it away?

    Activities (group or individual)

    Instruct students to rinse out the glue sticks. Make sure they do not damage the stem inside the glue stick. Place the clean glue sticks on paper towels to dry completely.

    Next, allow students to sort the old crayons by placing the pieces into groups according to colors. Instruct the students to peel the labels off of the crayons. As the students are preparing the crayons, heat some water in a pan so that you can melt the old crayons. (A shallow pan works best as it allows the students to observe the changes in the water and the steam. This also keeps the salad dressing bottles from getting too hot for the students to handle.) The water doesn’t have to boil to melt the crayons. Low heat for approximately 15 minutes will melt the crayons to a liquid state and the glass bottles will not be too hot for students to handle if you want to let them pour the wax into the glue sticks.

    As the water is heating, discuss states of matter with the students. Explain that water is a liquid, crayons are solids, and the steam they see from the heated water is a gas. Ask them to predict what will happen to the crayons when the heat is applied. Ask them what they think will happen when the melted wax cools again.

    Let the students place crayon pieces into the salad dressing bottles according to colors. You can create multi-colored crayons by pouring different colored wax into the glue stick, but each bottle should contain the same (or nearly the same) color crayon pieces.

    Pour the melted crayon wax carefully into the empty glue stick containers. Important note: Instruct the students not to twist the bottom of the glue stick until the wax has completely hardened. Once the wax is cool and hard, you can twist the bottom and your new crayons will be ready to use.

    Provide time for students to create a picture with their recycled crayons to demonstrate the meaning of reuse, reduce and recycle. Ask them to create a poster that demonstrates why it is important to consider our environment before we discard items that might otherwise be reused or recycled.

    Did my students achieve the lesson objective?

    Activities (group or individual)

    Math activities:

    If you’ve been collecting Elmer’s Glue sticks and Elmer’s Glue bottles throughout the year and you have a significant number, there are many ways in which you can reinforce essential math skills to estimate, count, and graph what you have collected. Print the Glue Crew Math handout (attached) to extend this lesson with math activities.

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