By Jennifer Perkins
Have you heard the rumors that we are having a heat wave? Here in Austin, summer temperatures are rarely below 105 degrees. It’s hard explaining to your toddler that they can’t go outside to play due to the heat. As of late I have been trying to think of some fun and cool outdoor activities for my daughter to do in the mornings before the heat really kicks in. I’m not the first person to think of ice crayons, but I’d like to think I added a few new spins to it.
For a PDF of this tutorial, visit the build page on Make: Projects.
Beets, golden and red
Ice cube trays
Watercolor paper, canvas, or cardstock
Paint-with-water books should be a staple in any toddler’s home. If you don’t feel like cleaning up paint, just hand your kid a cup of water, a brush, and a page from one of these boredom-busting books.
Our first ice crayon adventure involved using a paint-with-water book and an ice cube. Skip the brush and glass of water! Once the cube starts to melt, the paint magically appears on the paper. This was an exciting new spin on our beloved paint-with-water pictures that kept us busy quite awhile.
Step 1: My daughter had so much fun painting with ice that it got me thinking. I decided to try my hand at making my own ice crayons. Most recipes on the internet call for little more than an ice cube tray, food coloring, water, and a freezer. These work great, but I decided to change things up a bit. First of all, I used Kool-Aid as my colorant. Kool-Aid comes in so many fun colors and they make your ice crayons smell yummy too. Scratch ‘n sniff ice crayons, does it get any better, I ask you?
The next thing I changed up was the shape of my ice crayon. Regular ice cube trays will work fine and are nice and chunky for younger hands, but I wanted to try something different. I happened to have some long cylindrical-shaped ice cube trays that mimic an actual crayon or pen in shape. I found one set at Ikea and another set at the thrift store, so they are not hard to come by.
Step 3: In retrospect, I might have added less water to my batches of Kool-Aid. I suggest 2 cups of water per package of Kool-Aid – this would concentrate the color more. As you might guess, colors like red worked better than yellow.
Step 1: Next, I decided to try a more organic, natural route. My toddler has a serious blueberry addiction, so I knew from personal experience that blueberries would work great for producing a nice bright color. I also decided to try beets (golden and regular), and kale.
Step 2: With each of the 4 batches, I boiled the fruit or veggie in a couple of cups of water to get my colored liquid, which I then froze. With the kale I boiled the stems and put the leaves on a pizza. With the beets, I boiled the stems and skin and made chips with the rest of the vegetable. The blueberries just got boiled and tossed out.
Step 3: Once I had my boiled veggie water, all that was left to do was pour it into my ice cube trays and freeze. I might mention that for the boiled kale I ended up adding some spinach and pureeing the whole mixture to freeze. Colorwise, green was the least successful.
Step 4: The nice thing about these organic and all natural ice crayons is that there is nothing to worry about when your toddler takes a few bites of their new crayons in between painting. And trust me, they will. They might actually get a serving of vegetables as they craft! Healthy and crafty – not many projects can claim that!
Overall, don’t expect your new ice crayons to work like paint. The colors are much lighter, but a nice change of pace. The beet crayons were the best, but expect stained hands! We also experimented with various papers to see if the ice crayons worked better on one over another. Watercolor paper, canvas, and cardstock seemed to take the color better than plain old printer paper.
Each mixture of the Kool-Aid and the vegetable water will make several batches of ice crayons. Once you have all your colors made, separate them into sandwich bags with an assortment of colors in each and store for later use. The next hot morning that boredom strikes, all I have to do is open my freezer for instant crafty cooling entertainment.
About the Author:
Jennifer Perkins is the lady behind The Naughty Secretary Club blog and Etsy store. When she is not crafting, you can find her at various haunts around Austin, TX with her hubby and 2 kidlets.