Have you ever made shrinky dinks?
According to Wikipedia, shrinky dinks reached the height of their popularity in the 80s. I remember doing them as a kid with my Girl Scout troop and thinking they were without a doubt, the coolest thing ever.
I’m not sure if they are exactly making a comeback (like all things 80s it seems) or if teen librarians are the only ones still using them. But I was scrounging around on the internet for things to do with my Manga Club and when I came across this post by our excellent Indiana State Children’s Consultant Suzanne Walker, I knew I had hit gold.
My teens, of course, had never heard of shrinky dinks, but once I pulled the first ones out of the oven, they were hooked. Boys and girls, all ages, backgrounds, interests, they all loved making shrinky dinks! I printed out a picture of Kirara for one girl to trace and you should have seen how happy she was. I made an instant fan there.
The absolute best thing about shrinky dinks is that you can fit them into any program you want! I was racking my brain trying to come up with a simple Doctor Who craft for our Doctor Who program. There were tons of great ideas online but none really matched our level of limited funds, time, and skills. I thought back to how much fun the Manga Club had with shrinky dinks a couple weeks ago, and I knew we could do Doctor Who shrinky dinks and my teens would think it was just as awesome as any of the complex-looking Doctor Who crafts out there!
My department has a cheap little toaster oven and when I heard you could use a toaster oven to bake your shrinky dinks, I knew that was going to make life a lot easier. However, I had a lot of trouble keeping the heat of the toaster oven constant, and I think this is why our plastic curled up so much. I am sad to report I ruined a couple teens’ projects this way. Thankfully they were good sports about it.
If you are thinking about using shrinky dinks with your teens, do it! Most likely they have never heard of them, and when they see what is possible, they’ll love it. My biggest piece of advice, other than having cool pictures the teens can trace onto their plastic and following the instructions that come with the package, is to use a toaster oven if it makes life easier, but make sure its not a cheapo one without a constant temperature. Oh, and don’t forget to punch your holes into your artwork BEFORE you put it in the oven!