MOUNDRIDGE —Students at Moundridge Elementary School are building character with some very literal building blocks.

Third grade teacher Kristen Koller led the group of students in melting down broken crayons into Lego molds. The again-useful crayons were then delivered to children staying at Wesley Children’s Hospital in Wichita this week.

“I mentioned the project to my third graders and several took charge and wanted to make it a success. I only peeled crayons a few times with the kids before they took over and led it themselves,” Koller explained. “I have a plug-in hot plate that I would use to melt the crayons after they had enough of one color to melt and then pour the wax into the molds. Any time they had a good amount of free time, they were peeling crayons — even during some indoor recess times.”

The project started in September and a devoted group of students took it upon themselves to work during their free time.

After all the crayons were peeled, sorted, melted and shaped, the group was able to give 20 bags of Lego-themed crayons to the hospital. Each bag had a card reading, "We 'Build' you a Merry Christmas, We 'Build' you a Merry Christmas, We 'Build' you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy 'Build' Year!"

The idea for the gifts started with another gift.

“I’m new to the school, I taught in McPherson last year, and when I came in, I got this huge box of crayons. The teacher before me had collected them last year with good intentions of doing something with them, but never found the time, so I started looking for ideas and found out that we could send them to a children’s hospital,” Koller explained. “The kids had fun finding ones they had in first and second grade — their names were still written on them.”

Of course, service to others is not new to students in Moundridge schools.

“They did a service project last year in second grade. They raised money for St. Jude by selling sno cones, so they wanted to send it to St. Jude again. I suggested that we send it somewhere local with a closer connection and we can deliver them ourselves,” Koller explained. “I am lucky in that several of my kids have already developed this desire to help others. They are always wanting to help sharpen pencils, file papers, sweep the floor. Their former teachers and families have already instilled these traits in the kids' hearts.”

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.