Shrink Plastic Ornaments

This is a fun activity to do, and very easy because it is finished in minutes. No waiting around for glue to dry or things to harden…just a couple minutes to cool and you’re done!

Good for all ages that are drawing. Obviously, if you have a child that is not yet drawing, this may not be a project to do with them. But even scribbles can be cut out and shrunk, so don’t wait for them to actually make identifiable objects…the scribbles are precious too!

Supplies Needed:

  • shrink plastic
    I highly recommend purchasing this online here. The price is significantly less than you will find at Michael’s (for Shrinky-Dink brand)…even though you do have to pay shipping, it is still cheaper and you get more in a pack. Also, if you place your order before 1pm, the order will go out the same day. And since most items (as long as they are instock items) are only coming from Salinas, I usually get my orders the very next day!
  • colored pencils (crayons and markers don’t work for this, I’m told)
  • sandpaper…only if you buy shrink plastic that is shiny…then you will need to sand it to be able to draw on it.
  • scissors, to cut out the designs made
  • hole punch, if you want to be able to hang them
  • oven or toaster oven…I like to use a toaster oven, because it can be brought into whatever room you are working with the kids in…and has a window for them to watch.

What To Do:

Have the kids draw whatever they want on the plastic…make sure that you tell them to make it BIG, because it is going to shrink considerably…it will be at least a half to a third of its original size when its done (and are quite thick and hard). I like to give the kids at least a half sheet to work on…but if you can afford it, a whole sheet would work even better…depending on what you want the final size to look like. Tell them to really try to use as much of the plastic as possible, to avoid waste and to get the bigger sized project.

After they’ve finished their drawings, have them cut it out, if they want, or they can leave it if they like. Don’t forget to put names on them now if you have multiple kids…dates are nice to have on there too. If you want to be able to hang them later, you will need to remember to use a hole punch on them now!! Then you’ll put the plastic on an oven-safe tray (if you are using a toaster oven, just use that tray) that is covered in aluminum foil…if you are doing a group of kids’ work, you will want to have multiple sheets of aluminum foil so that you can continue to heat ornaments (just pull the sheet with the finished ornaments off the tray and put a new sheet on) but not have to tie up the tray.

Bake the ornaments in a 300degree oven (or whatever temp it says on the plastic packaging) and let the kids watch! The ornaments will curl up on themselves but don’t worry, they almost always go back down again and flatten out…it only takes a couple minutes to shrink, and its very dramatic to watch! Once they look like they are not shrinking anymore, just let them sit a few more seconds, to make sure they flatten out as much as they are going to…then remove them from the oven. At this time, if you want them curled, you will want to curl them fast, before they cool (like around a pencil or something like that)…but if you want them flat, you will want to press them quickly with a towel to flatten them. (This is when you’d straighten them out if they didn’t uncurl completely.) They cool very fast so you only have a few seconds to do this, so work fast! And don’t let the kids do this part, its HOT!

These make great ornaments, but you can really make them into just about anything…windchimes, mobiles, magnets, suncatchers (attach a suction cup hook to them), necklaces, earrings, whatever! Use your imagination!

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