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The Ultimate Guide to Shrinking Kid's Art into Necklaces, Keychains, or Other Keepsakes

Eeeeek! I am SO excited about this project and can't wait to share the details so you can try this with your class, too! It's actually pretty simple and definitely cheap!  You could make 24 necklaces for less than $10.
 I'll break it down for you step-by-step:

1. Gather your supplies: I grabbed the 50-pack of Grafix clear Shrink Film from Amazon. In hind sight, I didn't need that much... I only used 1 sheet for every 4 kids!  So if you can find a smaller pack at a craft store (and maybe use your teacher discount?!), GO FOR IT!  You don't need much.  Maybe give yourself a few extra pages so you can do a "practice?"

Other things you'll need are: an awesome drawing project (see #2), hole punch, scissors for you, permanent markers (I used regular Sharpies), colored pencils (any old kind), a scrap of cardboard, an oven, and ribbon (for necklaces) or magnets or keychains or ??? as the finishing touches!

You can get them ALL as a $-saving bundle!  We do one a month in my class. <3 
2. The All-Important Artwork: We did my Mother's Day Directed Drawing project.  Kids can draw themselves alongside anyone special... obviously drawing themselves with mom or grandma is a winner for Mother's Day, but these would also be cute to do with dad or grandpa for Father's Day. I have a whole collection of easy-to-follow directed drawing projects that would also be PERFECT for this.... they all come with "perfect start" papers to get ensure everyone gets off to a perfect start and step-by-step, full color direction shows that makes them super easy to teach!  Seriously.  My class is already planning to turn the "Superhero Directed Drawing" into keychains for Father's Day!
 Other options include: Sunflower, Rainbow, Penguin, Butterfly, Gingerbread, Turkey, Pumpkin, a Pop Art Heart and ooooooh... everyone's favorite: the Self Portrait!!!   Oh my gosh- those would be so cute as magnets sitting on people's fridges.  Hmmmm... maybe it's good I DID buy the 50-pack of shrink paper because I'm definitely excited about all these ideas... LOL!

 So- ANYWAY, now that you know all the options, let's get back to the project! We drew our directed drawings on our "perfect start" papers and then traced over everything with permanent markers and STOPPED. NO coloring (yet).
Here's a full page drawing..

3. I took the papers and ran them through the copy machine at a 50% reduced size.  They came out like this:
 4. Cut the shrink film into fourths. I recommend using a paper cutter for this, 1-2 sheets at a time. 

5. Use a scissors to round out the sharp corners.

6. Use a hole punch to punch a hole near one end. Here's a picture of a finished product on my computer keyboard (for scale) so you can see how big the hole turns out in the end. It'll be perfect for threading a thin, colorful ribbon or attaching a keychain.
 7. Tape: Use a little bit of tape on one edge of the shrink film to attach it to the paper. Be sure to tape the film scratchy side UP. You want them to draw on the roughed-up side.
This calls for some serious concentration...

 8. Tracing: Show kids how to trace overtop the lines they already drew with permanent marker. Show them how they could gently flip the shrink film up to check and make sure they traced all the lines and didn't miss tracing an eye or anything important. :)

Teacher tip: The permanent markers CAN smear if kids smudge them within a split-second of drawing. They dry really fast though- so if they go slow and careful, they'll be fine. If you do run into a big smear (we had one from a little speedster), my amazing assistant had success rubbing the smear off with a Q-tip and hand sanitizer.  Teachers are such great problem solvers!

9. COLORING! We used colored pencils, just because that's what we had on hand.  I've heard you can also use colored permanent markers.  Teacher tip:  All colors get darker once they shrink.  Our colored pencils didn't appear to show up very brightly on the shrink film, but don't worry- they look better once they shrink.
Another Teacher tip:  I love the look of the translucent, scratchy white background so I told kids to NOT color it in.
Final tip: I always have my kids take a light pink and color some life into their people's cheeks. It's our little secret to awesome faces. ;)
All colored and waiting to be shrunk!

10. Names: When kids finished coloring, they brought their artwork to me and I peeled off the little piece of tape and wrote their name and the year at the bottom.

11.  Baking time!  Okay, this feels like the scary part, but I'll walk you through and it'll be magical!  You've got this! (fist bump)

Pre-heat your oven to 325.  The directions recommend anywhere between 300-350... so I tried this with two different ovens and 325 worked great for both.

While that's heating up, it's time to make your "baking pan!" Mine is just a cardboard scrap from the recycling bin at school.  Don't use a regular baking pan because the film can stick to metal or glass and that'd be no bueno! :)

Lay the artwork out on your pan, coloring side UP, and make sure each piece has a little space to wiggle.

When the oven is ready, pop it in!  For the first 30 seconds-minute, NOTHING will happen.  Then suddenly things will begin to pucker and curl and -don't panic- look like they're stuck to the cardboard in several places... don't worry- it's all good! 

You'll know exactly when to take them out: when they lay perfectly flat.  If the corners are a little curled up, give it a few more seconds and they'll lay down for you.  You can pull the cardboard out with your bare hand... it won't get hot like a regular baking sheet.

So cute and teeny!
12. Cooling:  Give them about 60 seconds to cool and harden up.  Then gently push them off the cardboard with a spatula.

Note:  Some places say you can spray the finished products with a special protective coating, like Modge Podge Spray.  You probably could, but I'm here to tell you: I don't think you don't need to.  Save your $ if you want.  If I take my thumb and rub really hard over the colored pencil of our finished products, a teeeeeeny tiny bit comes off on my finger, only on the first rub.  Like tiny.  NBD.  So this step is up to you, but I feel good about skipping it.

13. The Finishing Touch!  Add thin colorful ribbon or yarn to turn these into necklaces ...or add metal keychains... or whatever you want to do!  The sky's the limit! I imagined I'd do a cute ribbon, but realized colorful yarn works just as well (and is even cheaper!) so here is how ours turned out...
Oh, and don't forget... when you're done with THIS part of the project, you still have your original drawing to go back to and color! These will turn out amazing!  I glue them on a big piece of construction, side by side, with a writing page from my Mother's Day Project Pack.  

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