Shrinky Dink Charms

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Shrinky Dinks!

I just learned that these polystyrene plastic (#6) sheets were invented by two housewives from Wisconsin in 1973. Weren’t they smart and industrious! I’ve been told that you can make your own shrink plastic projects with #6 plastic, and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried this.

We made Shrinky Dinks a while ago and my 3 year old requested them again the other day. This is such a fun project, and a perfect indoor activity on a cool Fall day. Although it happened to be about 90 degrees when we did it. Fall in California…go figure. We set ourselves up with a sheet of Shrink Plastic, Paint Pens, and Sharpie Markers. You’ll find that Shrinky Dinks can come in all sorts of themes, but I wouldn’t bother with that. I really like the Shrinky Dinks Refill Set of 6 plain 8″ x 5″ sheets. Nothing fancy, but they work!

I set this up on our plastic-covered table and opened the windows since we were using stinky, non-washable pens. I also placed the shrink plastic on top of a sheet of white paper so that N could clearly see her work. All of the drawing happens on the rough side of the plastic, and you’ll want to avoid using oil-based crayons and pencils because they can catch fire in the oven. Yikes.

Rather than draw on individual pieces, I thought it would work best for my little one to draw all over the big sheet before we cut it up. N added all sorts of lines and shapes, but left a lot of white space. We talked about how the plastic would shrink the whole thing down and that we’d see more of her designs if she filled more of the sheet with marks. She understood the point, and found a way to fill that space…with dots. I love it!

She cut the plastic up into three organic shapes, and then I punched one hole in each of the pieces so we could turn them into necklace charms.

After she cut them out, I placed them on aluminum foil on the lowest rack of a 350 degree oven. They start to curl and shrink. Once they flatten, after about 2 minutes, pull them from the oven and wait for them to cool.

I wish I had a good picture of one of the charms around my neck, but I’ve noticed that while I’m really good at documenting each step of our projects, I’m terrible at capturing the final result.  Something I need to work on, for sure. But, at least you can see them as they came out of the oven, all shrunk up. I think they’re adorable, and my daughter enjoyed the process.

Thank you for a fun afternoon, clever Wisconsin Housewives!

Valentine’s Day Shrinky Dinks

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Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? I loved loved loved these as a child, but I wasn’t sure if my 2.5 year old would be ready for them yet. We happened to find ourselves at a Hanukah party in December where a bunch of craft tables were set up, and my child gravitated to the Shrinky Dink table. Why, I’m not sure, but the mountain of Sharpie markers may have had something to do with it. We had a really good conversation about how plastic melts with heat (in this case, in a hot toaster oven), and I’m impressed that my daughter can now articulate a wide range of melting things including snowmen, ice cream cones, and now shrinky dinks!

Materials

  • Shrinky Dink Refill kit – I ordered these from Amazon
  • Sharpies in a variety of colors. The Shrinky Dink company also recommends Prisma Color pencils or non-water based crayons. We used Crayola Twistables and Crayola washable markers for this project.
  • Oven or Toaster Oven
  • Hole Punch (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)

I cut one of the sheets in half, and my daughter drew all over them with Sharpies, markers, and crayons.

We’ve been revving up for Valentine’s Day, so when a request for a heart shape came in I was ready! I made a little heart template on green paper, traced the shape onto the plastic, and then cut it out. You can get a sense of the scale reduction in the picture above. I punched a hole near the top, so we could add these to a keyring or necklace later on.

Heat the oven to 325, then bake! The plastic curls as it heats up, and it’s really fun to watch. If there’s ever a time to use the oven light, this is it! This step takes less than 30 seconds, so watch it closely.

And there you have it…Shrinky Dinks just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Resources

  • The Shrinky Dink company put this handy little idea and cheat sheet together
  • Our friend Chelsea shares these instructions from Curbly for making your own shrinky plastic pictures from #6 plastic (polystyrene). It’s brilliant: resourceful, inexpensive, and recyclable! We will most definitely be trying this out.