Sunday, August 1, 2010

Polishing Crayons - Preschool Art Meets Sunday Science

My youngest (age 4) has been experimenting a lot with her art, lately. Most recently she's discovered she can flick tiny bits of her crayons onto her page, and then rub them in, with a spiral pattern. It's been great fun for her, but hard on our crayons.

I decided to distract her from chipping the crayons away, by showing her how she could use a napkin to "polish" her completed drawings, not only making them shiny, but also melting the crayon just enough to blur the lines, and blend them together. She was thrilled.

And, thanks to MaryAnn Kohl, and Jean Potter's Science Arts, I was able to turn the art lesson, into a science lesson, too, by demonstrating to C, that the friction of two objects rubbing together, like her hands...

...produces heat.

And, in the case of the napkin on the crayon, it's enough heat to melt the wax of the crayon (phase change!).

Kohl and Potter's book is full of messy, textural art, like you might expect from their craft books, but with a nice box on each page explaining the scientific principal behind what is happening. So painting on the sidewalk with water, becomes a lesson in evaporation, or running a straw through oobleck, with food coloring on top, is all about symmetry.

The book is a little out of date, in that a couple of the activities call for overhead projectors, or slide projectors, but if your in the mood for some messy, art related crafts, that won't produce fridge worthy art, but will teach a lesson in science, then you don't want to miss it.

Or, for more fun with science (and maybe less with art), check out this week's Science Sunday link-up, at Adventure's in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


  1. How interesting. I have never thought of combining science and art.

  2. What a creative way of using crayons! Thanks for the polishing idea, and that book sounds neat!

  3. Oh cool, my daughter learned that trick from her cousin, and I was at a loss as to why it worked. Love that I can now explain the science of it. (and it makes perfect sense if I had thought about it enough)

  4. Hmmm........ That would be fun. I'd never really thought of it as polishing my art. That's true though. Course I usually did it with my finger.

  5. Very clever. It's great that you can work science into something fun and simple.

  6. We tried that book, but I noticed that many activities are for older ages, so we returned it rather quickly. Great idea about "redirecting" your youngest, but she is really pretty creative in discovering crayon flicking.

  7. I wanted to thank you for mentioning "Science Arts" on your blog, a book that I wrote. I have found that boys are particularly drawn to the "ooooo, ahhhh" factor of each project in that book, especially anything that "explodes". Who wudda thought? haha. I'm glad you liked the book.... those little science explanations? I had to have a science teacher friend help me with those.

    Please invite your readers to visit my new blog:
    It's full of treasures and fun and art.

    Thank you again!
    MaryAnn F. Kohl
    art author
    (PS Big anniversary sale on my website right now....)