Crayons are a great visual tool for teaching writing. Here's how to score free crayons for teaching your students how to color code their essays!

This post originally appeared on the blog The Daring English Teacher.

I’ve got crayons. I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of crayons, and I got them all for free!

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why does a secondary English teacher need so many crayons?” Truth be told, the answer is simple. I need them because they are a great tool for teaching writing. I use my tubs and tubs of crayons almost every single month when I have my students write essays.

Since I teach a lot of EL students and struggling writers, I use crayons as a part of my instruction, and I teach my students how to color code their essay. As students brainstorm for and outline their essay, each body paragraph is assigned a color. Once they formulate their topic sentences, my students then underline each topic sentence in that same color. From there, I instruct my students to  underline each portion of their thesis in the correct, corresponding color.

Crayons are a great visual tool for teaching writing. Here's how to score free crayons for teaching your students how to color code their essays!

Color-coding essays helps students learn essay structure and organization. They understand organization so much more when they can visually see that every proponent of their thesis statement needs to be accompanied by a body paragraph in their essay. 

Purchasing all of these crayons would be quite costly, so I am thrilled that I was able to get them all for free. You can also score tons and tons of crayons for free!

Crayons are a great visual tool for teaching writing. Here's how to score free crayons for teaching your students how to color code their essays!

As I earned my teaching credential and Master’s degree, I worked part time as a waitress at a restaurant. At this particular restaurant, every single child who dined at the restaurant received a brand new box of four crayons, and at the end of every single meal, the crayons were thrown away. Per restaurant policy, each child had to receive a new box of crayons each visit. It was a complete waste! So many crayons were thrown away each and every single day.

After talking to my managers, they agreed that it was wasteful, so, with permission, I kindly asked the bussers and servers to save the crayons (new and even used) for me. I placed a crayon donation box near the bussing section in the back area of the restaurant (where the bussers take the tubs of dirty plates to sort and stack), and everyone saved the crayons instead of throwing them away!

If you notice, many restaurants follow a similar practice; they throw away practically new crayons. These are crayons that can be used by kids across the nation in classrooms that desperately need more supplies. If you have a restaurant that you frequent regularly, speak with the manager about saving the crayons. If the manager agrees, supply a clearly marked plastic shoebox to the restaurant, and collect the crayons on a regular basis. You will be amazed at how quickly the crayons add up. Sure, you will most likely only get three or four colors, but for color coding essays, it is the perfect amount!

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The Daring English TeacherCrayons are a great visual tool for teaching writing. Here's how to score free crayons for teaching your students how to color code their essays! is a high school English and journalism teacher in Southern California. She has a passion for creating educational resources to help teacher help their students succeed. Anticipating teachers’ growing need for digital-based resources, The Daring English Teacher created SMARTePlans, a line of interactive, Google-based teaching resources for secondary English teachers. She has her Master of Education. You can read about how she uses technology in her classroom on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.