15 Shrinky Dink Craft Ideas That Make Science Look Like Magic
Want to make your kids' eyes widen with amazement and wonder? Show them a little "magic" (or what appears to be magic, anyway). With a few Shrinky Dink craft ideas, you can look like a true magician to your kids. What's more magical than their own drawing transforming from paper to plastic?
If you didn't play with Shrinky Dinks as a kid, the craft involves drawing something on what seems like a piece of thick paper, cutting it out, and baking it in the oven. That "paper," which is actually plastic, curls and crinkles as it heats up and ultimately ends up being a smaller, thicker, hard plastic replica of the original drawing. What looks like magic to your kids is actually a chemical reaction, according to Smithsonian Magazine: "By nature, the polymer chains within the polystyrene are bunched up and randomly clumped together, but the heating, rolling and cooling process forces them to straighten out and get into a more orderly configuration. All the polymers want to do is bounce back into their more disorderly arrangement and they are able to do this when the polystyrene is heated again."
It's up to you whether you want to use this craft as credit for your child's homeschooling science course, or keep the illusion that you're the parent-version of Houdini. Either way, here are some fun Shrinky Dink ideas to try.
1. Classic Key Chain
Have your kid draw whatever they can think up on the Shrinky Dink paper, then use a hole punch to pop a hole in it before baking. Once it's done, you can spin a key ring onto it and have yourself a one-of-a-kind keychain! Check out the Creative Studios' video tutorial to learn more.
2. Jewelry Charm
Shrinky Dink pieces are perfect to put on a necklace or bracelet as a charm. Your kids can draw their favorite characters to take with them everywhere or make up their own designs for a totally unique look. Happiness is Homemade came up with the cutest Shrinky Dink doughnut charm bracelet, and you can get the instructions here.
3. Zipper Pull
Have your kids jazz up their coat or backpack with a Shrinky Dink zipper pull. They can make one with their initial, a favorite shape, or just a fun design. Craftulate has some great tips on figuring out the right sizing and how to add jewelry links to the Shrinky Dink so you can attach it to the zipper.
4. Mobile Suncatcher
Have your kids turn their art into a suncatcher that looks like stained glass. They can make one big, colorful design to hang in the window or several small pieces that they can string together to create a mobile-like suncatcher, like this butterfly suncatcher from Cutesy Crafts.
5. Tree Ornament
Whether you're doing this project in December or July doesn't matter, because any Shrinky Dink craft is fun no matter the time of year. Your kids can create their own custom ornaments for the tree, or they can start creating some for relatives or friends to give as gifts. Have the kids draw out their ornament on the paper (you can also outline an ornament shape, like one from Woo Jr., and have them color it in) and use a hole punch to make a hole. Once they're out of the oven and cooled, thread some ribbon through the hole or a wire ornament hook and it's ready to hang.
6. Custom Garland
Pom-pom and tassel garlands are definitely cute, but you can make them a little more custom by adding some fun Shrinky Dink creations to them. There's usually some space between each pom or tassel on a pre-made garland and you can use (super or hot) glue some extra Shrinky Dink attachments in those spaces. Add unicorns to a pastel-colored garland, or superheroes to one with primary colored poms.
7. Hand Print Art
This craft is fun for them to do, and gives you a sweet keepsake. Have the kids use paint to make hand or foot prints and then, once the paint is dry, you can make a bigger design out of it (like a classic turkey hand) or keep as is and then turn the finished piece into a key chain or just a trinket to carry.
One thing to note, Grey House Harbor has a tutorial on this very project that mentions the importance of using acrylic paint with a glossy finish for this project, not matte.
Order some posts or hooks online and then use the Shrinky Dink paper to create some fun earrings. Have your kids dream up whatever kind of design they want to sport on their ears (just keep the final size in mind unless they want some ginormous and heavy studs).
Crazy DIY Mom has a great tutorial for making post earrings. Art is for All offers step-by-step instructions for dangle earrings; hers are intricate but the same process applies whether the earrings are works of art or little-kid-versions of Olaf.
9. Pet Or Stuffed Animal ID Tags
If you have a pet who could use a new tag, or your child has a beloved stuffed animal that needs identification, have them make up a cute ID tag. All the other pups on the street will be so jealous of your dog's cool new collar. Martha Stewart's site has free printable tag templates to work from as well as tips for completing the project.
10. Embellishments For A Larger Craft
The Shrinky Dink creation doesn't have to be the end of the craft; it can be added to something larger like a planter or a picture frame. Or you can create a complete mosaic using Shrinky Dink squares: Outline a grid on your sheet of Shrinky Dink, and have your kids color or design something in each square. Then, cut along your grid lines before baking, and when they come out and are cooled, attach them to your larger project using super or hot glue.
11. Personalized Gift
Besides its magical abilities, one of the best things about Shrinky Dinks is that they make something as simple as a scribble something you can treasure forever. Have your kids write a sweet note to their parent for their birthday, or an "I love you" to their grandparents. It will definitely stick around longer than a paper card would.
12. Cake Or Cupcake Toppers
This is a great craft for a birthday celebration (or any day you're in the mood for cake). Have your kids draw out their very own cake or cupcake topper, then once they're ready, let them decorate their dessert with icing and sprinkles and top it off with their creation (before immediately taking it off to eat their treat).
13. Playful Figurines
Have your kids take after Bonnie in Toy Story 4 and create their own "Forky" type toy with Shrinky Dink. It can be a little character they make up completely on their own or their own rendering of Elsa or Batman.
14. String Lights
A lot of string lights come equipped with little shades over some of the individual bulbs like hearts, stars, rainbows, and other fun shapes. Let your kids create their own twinkle lights with Shrinky Dink creations as shades. Check out these cactus lights (and the tutorial for how to make them) from We're Going To Make It.
Order up some pin posts and super glue and help your kids turn their Shrinky Dink designs into pins. They can put them on their book bags, coats, canvas shoes, or wherever they want to show off their designer style. Just bake the Shrinky Dink design and glue the post to the back of it and it's ready to pin!