Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dried Up Markers - Turn them into Watercolors!

You're Throwing Out "Dry" Markers Too Soon
One thing we are never in short supply of having? Dried up markers. It seems like a perpetual challenge for my children to replace the caps on the markers after they are done using them. I've tried showing them the convenient spot to "store" the cap while their drawing. I've tried reminding them to find and replace the caps. I've even threatened to not buy any more markers if they can't take care of the ones we have.

The only thing that has worked for our family so far is to shrug it off and find a new way to use the dried up markers.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
One of the basic tenets of environmentalism (and environmental education) is to reduce the amount of stuff we consume. So the threat to not buy more if we can't take care of it is OK in terms of preventing waste but it isn't a creative solution to the realities of life with young children.

Reusing/Recycling the markers is a more solutions-focused approach to the dried up marker problem. So this is how we do it.

Step 1: Collect your materials. You'll need:

- dried up markers
- water bottles
- funnel
- water

Step 2: Fill a bunch of little bottles with water.

Step 3: Place dried up marker in bottle and seal the bottle.

Step 4: Repeat with however many colors you want.

Voila! - Washable Markers become Liquid Watercolors
The longer you leave the markers in the water the more ink can come out. In the picture below the purple and the darker blue had been sitting the longest (weeks) and the others had only been sitting minutes.

Fluid Dynamics
There are two main features of fluid dynamics of this little project. First, pouring water from a large container into a smaller container using a funnel could be a physics/math lesson in and of itself. Watching the water pour, fill the funnel, and then spill (and sometimes overflow) from the small bottle is a learning experience. Second, putting the marker into the water and watching the ink slowly leach out and distribute in the water is mesmerizing.

Don't Scold for Carelessness, Model Problem-solving
No one should beat themselves up about dried up markers because they merely present a new problem to solve. That is why I invite you to model problem-solving for your child. Not only will they learn a new way to be responsible with their used goods, they will have fun with you doing it.

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