Upcycled Montessori-Style Crayon Holder {Tutorial}

Montessori Style Crayon Holder

One of my favorite things in the Montessori classroom is the way they set out their art materials as though they are something to be treasured and displayed. The colored pencils are organized into matching colored holders (like these), and I’ve always wanted a set of my own (but not for $75!). Truth be told, my boys will use colored pencils and markers any day of the week, but crayons seem to always get passed over in favor of practically any other medium. Those poor, poor crayons needed some love and respect around here. I thought that maybe if I set out the crayons in a pretty display that the boys would be more apt to use them on a regular basis – and I was right!

While packing school lunches one evening, I realized that these fruit cups would be the perfect size for crayon holders. So, instead of being patient and waiting for a bunch of empty cups at the end of the week, I started opening and dumping seven containers of fruit into a big Tupperware for storage – hey, they can always be reportioned into little Tupperware containers for lunches – I’ve got to get moving on this inspiration!

If you’re lucky enough to have a rainbow of spray paint, it would really come in handy right about now. I only had about half the rainbow, so after removing the labels, I used acrylic paint to give each can three coats of paint followed by two coats of glossy varnish to seal it. Mitch rummaged up a piece of scrap 1×3 for me, and I made use of my white spray paint to give it a quick coat.

Mitch screwed each can to the piece of wood for me (thank you!), because I’m not quite as handy with the drill as he is.

Now it’s time to add the crayons!



The boys are loving crayons these days – yippee! I’ve been able to leave them sitting out on their art table for over two weeks now without a single spill or crayon mess mishap…though you might find yourself getting into serious in-depth discussions with your three-year-old over whether aquamarine belongs in the green or the blue container :)


  1. says

    Beautiful. Lucky boys! I hear you on the color names thing. There are so many in-between colors. It is hard to keep it basic for those 3-year olds.

  2. says


    Congratulations, you made this week’s Top 5 Hits at Singing With Birds. Come check it out and grab a button! Thanks for sharing such a fabulous idea.

  3. Anonymous says

    Aw man! I couldn’t find the 50 calorie cans, so I got the 100 cal ones, which I don’t think are nearly as cute! Mine have the ridged sides that are so typical for canned goods. I’m trying to paint them right now but the paint is streaking… and the next coat is taking the paint off from the coat underneath it. Any suggestions?

  4. says

    Love this! We made ours with laundry soap tops. I think I like them better because we made them ourselves! We made them for our colored pencils and markers too(with crystal light containers). Thanks for sharing, yours turned out fantastic!

  5. says

    Thanks for all the great responses!

    For “anonymous” with the 100 calorie cans, I’ve heard that giving metal a good brush-over with vinegar before painting will lightly etch the metal so that paint will better adhere to it. I haven’t actually tried it myself, but that tip came from one of my professional painter friends – good luck!

  6. says

    I love this idea and now I’m having a hard time finding those small cans. Boo! What is sad is that I had 8 of them that I used individually for my daycare kids, but I switched back to pencil boxes instead of the cans and I threw them all away – literally a week before I came across this post. I can find the 100 calorie cans all over the place, but the smaller cans seem hard to find now.

  7. says

    I know this is an old post of yours but I just found it and it’s AWESOME! I’m featuring you on Flexible Dreams tomorrow, January 8, 2011. Stop by and grab a button if you’d like.

  8. Anonymous says

    Awesome idea. Do you need to sand the sharp edges of the cans ? How did you manage to do the painting without it ? Can you please advise ?


      • says

        The edges of my particular cans are not sharp, but I would recommend lining the interior rim with Duck Tape or Gorilla Tape just to ensure additional safety. :)

  9. says

    How did you get rid of the sharp edges?? I am thinking of making this for Children’s Chapel in our church but I’m worried about edges…!

  10. Faye says

    This is a very creative idea! My hubby used to get (a little) upset with me for saving “stuff” in the basement to repurpose. Having a home daycare requires (for me) creating ideas and activities that are at little or not cost. Now he gets it and adds things to the “stockpile.”

    Thanks for sharing your idea!

  11. Faye says

    I forgot to add with my comment how I liked the way you used colors in the same family in each container. This is an excellent idea for children who are learning about colors as each primary color has various hues.


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