Teaching your child

A lesson in coloring outside the lines

A lesson in coloring outside the lines


We were sitting side-by-side quietly coloring when my son stopped and stared at the crayon he was rolling between his fingers.

"How is a crayon made?" he asked.

Hmmm, that was a stumper.

"I'm not sure, but we can find out together," I promised.

Recently during dinner I heard him tell a relative, "Did you know that if you put all the crayons that Crayola produces in a year together, you'd have a crayon that is 37 feet wide and taller than the Statue of Liberty?!"

That was when I knew he had found the answer to his question in the book, "Crayons: From Start to Finish." I had placed the book near one of the cozy corners where he likes to retreat. I thought he'd find it there.


Of course, knowing how many crayons Crayola makes and knowing how crayons are made are two different things. But the tidbit about the Statue of Liberty was on one of the back pages and I know how he reads - cover to cover.

The book uses kid-friendly language to describe the history and manufacturing of crayons.

According to the book, these are the basic steps in making a crayon:

1. Hot, liquid paraffin (wax) arrives at the plant in freight cars. The liquid wax is stored in silos. It is pumped into the plant as needed.

2. The liquid paraffin is mixed with color pigment.

3. The mixture is poured onto crayon-molding tables. The liquid fills hundreds of holes that mold the crayons.

4. Cold water travels through tubes in the molds to cool the wax. It takes less than five minutes for the wax to cool.

5. The crayons are removed from the molds, inspected, stacked and labeled.

Visitors to the Crayola Factory at Two Rivers Landing in Easton, Pa., can view a simulation of the process, says Susan Tucker, marketing and public relations specialist for Binney & Smith Inc., maker of Crayola products.

There's also a new interactive store and studio, Crayola Works, at Arundel Mills in Hanover, Md. The store opened June 8 and held a grand opening June 21.

The retail side of the store is interactive, a place where kids and their parents can try new products at various demo stations, Tucker says.

She says the company will do test marketing at the store to see how children like its products.

In the studio side of the store, families can purchase kits for art projects that range in price from $5.99 to $19.99.

"For the most part, the studio is there for parents and kids to make projects together," Tucker says.

The studio also will offer art classes.

Tucker says parents who have lots of stubby crayons around the house may be interested in learning about one of Crayola's newest products - a tabletop crayon maker. It allows kids to take their broken crayons and turn them into new ones. The process takes about 20 minutes.

"It's like the Easy Bake Oven for crayon manufacturing," Tucker says.

The crayon makers should be available after July 1.

Did you know?

The average child in the United States will wear down 730 crayons by his 10th birthday.

The most popular Crayola crayon color is blue.

The name Crayola comes from "craie," the French word for chalk and "ola" from "oleaginous," which means oily.

For information about "Crayons: From Start to Finish," go to or on the Web.

For information about the Crayola Factory at Two Rivers Landing, go to on the Web or call 1-610-515-8000.

For information about the Crayola Works store at Arundel Mills, go to, or call 1-410-799-0400.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

Crayon Quiz

Think you know your colors? Answer these questions by July 8 and win $$:

What were the eight colors in the original box of Crayola crayons, circa 1903?

Tie-breaker: What is George W. Bush's favorite crayon color?

Send your answers to Lisa Prejean by e-mail We'll announce the winners and the answers on July 12.

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