Creative expression everywhere

So, remember that new heater for the nursery? If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen its latest upgrade …

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Apparently, Beatrice got into her crayons while Erik was on a work call a few weeks ago and decided to add some “life” to her heater. I’ll admit the plain white square was sort of boring, and I actually really like her embellishments. Even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could wipe the crayon off — the heater is this sort of fragile chalky texture that might totally dissolve if I were to wet it.  I’m just glad her creative expression did not extend to the walls and the furniture.

Which brings me to one of our latest challenges. I had been keeping Bea’s crayons accessible to her, first in a super cute crayon roll that one of her friends got for her on Etsy (similar to this) …

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… and then, as they all started breaking, loose in a bowl.

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I wanted Beatrice to be able to color whenever she felt the urge, and I very much want to encourage her creativity.

However.

Bea’s crayons have been breaking because she likes to take giant bites out of them. The crayons are supposedly non-toxic, but I am tired of trying to swipe mushy crayon-y paste out of her mouth every time I notice that her tongue is an ultra-vivid shade of green. I am also tired of stepping on shards of crayon at every turn.

Enter markers.

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I ordered this giant 40-pack of markers with the assumption that Bea would destroy them pretty quickly. My plan was to have about eight available at a time and bring in reinforcements as needed. I sorted the 40 markers into 8 batches of similar-ish color families to allow for easy selection of each batch.

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My main hesitation with Bea and markers was that she liked to pull the caps off and leave a trail of caps and capless markers in her wake … and the caps would mysteriously disappear while the markers dried out. And I stepped on them hourly.

I googled solutions, and this DIY marker holder seemed to be the answer to all my problems. It promises to keep the caps captive and the markers ink-side-down so that nothing gets lost and nothing dries out. As usual, I was lacking the main ingredient, plaster of paris. I searched and found an alternative recipe (can’t find the link now) that stated you could get the same effect by mixing glue and water and giving it a few days to dry. I was doubtful, but I had glue available, so I decided to give it a shot. The mixture seemed too liquidy to dry EVER, so I decided to throw in a bit of flour (whole wheat, of course, ha!). Why not?

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I waited FOREVER. After about a week, I decided that the mixture was as dry as it would get and brought it out so Beatrice could do her worst.

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Faiiiiiiiiiiiil. As soon as Bea gave one a yank, the cap pulled right out of the glue mixture like nothing. I had to loosen all the markers and place them gently in the caps to avoid that issue.

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Obviously, it did not take long for Beatrice to decide that yanking out all the caps would be a much more enjoyable use of her time.

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Sometimes, DIY is just not in the cards. For me, that moment arrived when I realized that a ready-made wooden marker holder would cost less than a tub of plaster of paris. For less than $12, I had a marker solution that came hand-in-hand with peace of mind.

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I worried that I might have to super glue the caps into the block, but it actually holds them in a death grip. At first, I had to loosen all the markers because the caps were so tight that Bea couldn’t get the markers out without clocking herself on the forehead with the entire block. With use, the markers have loosened up a bit so she can get them out (while the caps stay in place!) with no issues.

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To my delight, the block has the added benefit of a built-in color-matching game with fine motor practice.

At this point, coloring is the only activity that will keep Bea independently busy for more than 30 seconds, so I am thrilled we have found a way to do it that does not make me crazy. Sure, she colors all over the table and the carpet, too, but the markers are super washable and blend in just fine with our non-white decor anyway.

And, I have to admit, coloring with Bea is no miserable task, either :-).

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