Heating Up Summer Creativity by Constructing a Solar Oven

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Keeping the creative juices flowing in the summer is important to me, so when L mentioned that he wanted to make crayons in various shaped molds in the oven, I was excited that he was being creative but it was also a VERY hot day and I REALLY didn’t want to turn on the oven.  I didn’t want to say no, but I also didn’t want the house to be the temperature of a Bikram Yoga studio, so I proposed that we make a solar oven instead.

Constructing a Solar Oven Collage

Heating Up Summer Creativity by Constructing a Solar Oven

Solar ovens are amazing little contraptions. They work by trapping and converting sunlight into heat energy that is retained for cooking. You can bake, boil and steam in a solar oven so they are quite versatile for cooking (or melting crayons in various shaped molds, which is what we wanted to do). Sun Ovens can be purchased online and range in cost from between $25.00- $200.00 (or more).  But why buy one when you can make one yourself for less than $6.00?

Explore solar science with a DIY solar oven. Kids will have fun making food, crayons and more

How can you make a DIY solar oven?

I had a basic idea of how I wanted to build the solar oven, but before getting started with the construction, I asked L how he thought we should build it to not only work on his creativity but to utilize his critical thinking skills (which, let’s face it, can be underutilized in the summer months).  We spent some time discussing the design and construction of the box and eventually came up with this list of materials:

  • One medium-sized box (cardboard is okay)Solar Oven Materials
  • One roll of electrical tape ($1.00 @ the dollar store)
  • One plexiglass sheet that matches the dimensions of the top of the box ($1.00 at a plastic supplies store, they always have remnant pieces that are priced really low)
  • One car sun shade ($4.00)
  • Several black river pebbles for conducting the heat (the required number depends on the size of the box you are using)
  • A thermometer (preferably one that can read above 200 degrees)
  • Note:  For the melted crayon activity you’ll need a bunch of broken crayons and silicon molds.  I bought our molds at a cake decorating specialty store but I’ve seen them at Michael’s as well.

Constructing the solar oven was easy and fun!

1 We lined the inside of the box with the sunshade which we cut to fit the box.

2. Afterward, we cut out a window on top of the box and taped the plexiglass into the opening.

3. We put the rocks and thermometer in the box and placed it in a sunny spot. 

Solar Oven Crayons Mold

4. While the oven sat in the sun, L and I put broken crayon pieces into a silicon mold to create robot shaped crayons.

Solar Oven Crayons

It took about 20 minutes for the oven to heat up to 180 degrees. We put our silicon molds in the oven and it wasn’t long before the crayons began melting and the colors began mixing.  We left the mold in there for about 45 minutes and then took it out (caution, this is an oven, after all, so the melted crayons in the mold will be HOT) and let it cool for at least an hour.  Once hard and cool we popped our little crayon robots out of the mold and were ecstatic with the results.  A few days later our neighbors came over and we shared this activity with them.  Even though they’re all different ages (7, 4, and 2) it was a great playdate activity that kept all three kids captivated and engaged.

Solar Oven Crayon Mold

Fun activities can be full of teachable moments!

This activity lends itself to many teachable moments.  During our interaction we discussed the greenhouse effect, we talked about the economics of cooking using solar energy (free!) versus using other resources that are finite.  We talked about the cost of trying to keep the house cool (whether with air conditioning or manually opening/closing windows in the evening and morning).  We also talked about the impact that using this technology has on people living in impoverished areas and several other topics. It was a great deductive and inductive reasoning activity and most importantly, it was fun.

 Solar Oven Crayons 002

What would you make in your solar oven?

We have made “Sun Cake” in a solar oven before and here are some more recipes you can try:

Solar Oven Dessert Recipes

Six Beginner Recipes for Solar Ovens


MORE SUMMER FUN ACTIVITIES:

Pendulum Water Blast Visual Tracking Activity
Pendulum Water Blast Visual Tracking Activity
Shell Critters Crafts For Kids
Shell Critters Crafts For Kids
Science Lessons From Making Freezer Bag Ice Cream
Science Lessons From Making Freezer Bag Ice Cream
Exploring Nebulae
Exploring Nebulae

 

31 Comments





  1. We need to try this this summer! Featured you on Mom’s Library!

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Ashley! We will stop by and check it out. 🙂

      Reply


  2. This is a completely different way to make a solar oven than I’ve seen before. I’ve usually seen using aluminum foil to make it, instead of a car shade. I wonder if there’s a difference in cooking ability.

    Reply

  3. This looks such a fun project. I’ve used earth ovens before and all manner of camp fire but never a solar oven! Will have to give it a go sometime. Thanks for sharing with Baby Routes July Ramblings.

    Reply

  4. Oh, I love the idea of using the solar oven for the crayons! Thanks for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

    Reply

  5. Very impressed, so cool! So many lessons for kids to learn from this too.Thank you for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest board.

    Reply

    1. That’s so nice, Carrie. Thanks!

      Reply

  6. So many awesome ideas all stemming from a desire to use the oven. Love it! And I love how you involved your son in all the critical thinking and planning – so important. Thanks for sharing with the Love to Learn Linky!

    Reply

    1. Thanks, that’s so nice. Honestly, I probably would never have thought about making a solar oven if my son wasn’t involved.

      Reply

  7. I love the little crayon hearts. Such a beautiful idea and I love that you made them using your very own solar oven. So clever!

    Thanks for linking up to Monday Parenting Pin It Party x

    Reply

    1. It will work as long as the sun is hot. 🙂

      Reply

  8. Such an awesome idea! I need things I can do that are super simple and don’t require me to buy extra things haha… very cool though! Maybe I can work on doing this soon! I’m sure the boys would love it!

    Reply

    1. Ha, well we don’t always strive for super simple. Also, the materials can be substituted for household items. For example, instead of buying plexiglass use the glass from an old picture frame.

      Reply

  9. Such a cool idea. It is a must try for kids. Just love it and when my girl grow up I will try to make it with her ☺

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    1. Jaya, it sounds like your daughter has some fun to look forward to when she grows up. 🙂

      Reply

  10. How fun! I’ve always wanted to make a solar oven. This one doesn’t look too hard. I’ve made the shaped crayons in the regular oven before but this would be even more fun.

    Reply

    1. You are right, Melissa, it is not hard to make and you can use it to bake and cook.

      Reply

  11. what a cool idea! I def want to do this with my son.. I am going ot pin this one so I dont forget how to make it!!

    Reply

  12. Wow I’ve never done these in a solar oven! My kids would adore this!! Thanks for sharing

    Reply

  13. Awesome! I’ve been meaning to do this with my kids for so long. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

    Reply

  14. Wow! That is really cool! You have to do another post if you decide to use the oven to prepare food. I’m curious to see how it turns out.

    Reply

    1. Thanks. We used to make Sun Cake in a solar oven. It works great but it takes hours to bake.

      Reply

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