I’ve always wanted to use the leftover candles and ugly candles that we have lying around to make new candles, using old jars, mason jars, etc. I began by exploring the activating questions, in order to find out what I already knew about this topic and what I needed to know. You can read more about my process here.
Then I hit the Internet. I started with a really broad search for “how to make candles” and then began to refine my search, looking for instructions using leftover candles and materials on hand. The most useful page I found was on Wikihow.
After reading a bunch of pages, each with their own suggested techniques and tips for candle making, I decided to throw out the rules and go at it on my own. The only thing I needed to purchase was the wicks and the rest of the tools I just found around my house. I began the project, approaching it as an experiment – “what would happen if I did this or that?” Because I am very safety oriented, I did Google some questions, like “adding vanilla to homemade candles”, just to make sure I wasn’t going to cause a ton of smoke or blow up or anything.
I tried making a few different candles, each time trying something different and learning from my mistakes. There were no real challenges, aside from learning that both kitchen vanilla and food coloring do not mix well into melted wax. However, there was a ton of learning, which I’m excited to bring into the next time I make a few candles at home.
In terms of learning for my students, I think this project really reinforced the need for kinaesthetic, hands on learning. Being able to experiment and try different things and then assess the outcomes was really refreshing. After being in school for so long myself, I have really gotten into the habit of researching, reading, and writing as the only pathway to learning. I almost felt like a kid again, it was learning disguised as playing and fun! I will definitely do my best to bring more of this kind of hands on, student-centered learning, based on some introductory research and exploration, into my classroom.