Recycled Shrink Plastic Art

Today, we will be reducing, reusing, recycling! We can create art with our old plastic packaging. Now, most of us have made awesome crafts out of the recycling bin before, but this time we will be transforming our clear plastics into shrink art!

We can use our shrink art to make jewelry, key chains, little figures, wind chime or wind spinner decorations, and so much more! follow along to find out how to do this simple and flexible craft for all ages!

Despite how much fun we're having, this also covers a lot of different curriculum connections! Be sure to read through the whole post to see how this sneaky learning will help your child discover new concepts, and be sure to make use of the questions provided to maximize on this.

What You Will Need

  • clear plastic containers (like what baked goods or takeout comes in)

  • permanent markers

  • oven (and a parent to help use it!)

  • baking sheet

  • scissors

  • hole punch

Parent Tips

This craft is great for all ages! Try to invite in all your family members to try this one out. The designs can be as simple or as complex as each person likes, and the finished product can be used to create anything! Discuss with your child while they're working what features may or may not transfer well once they shrink - shape and colour will change a bit! But how?


First, we're going to need our supplies. You will need clear plastic, like what you will find on food packaging. Different types of plastic may work differently. I found that a large container like what pastries from the store come in worked best for me, but any clear plastic should work. You will also need permanent markers, scizzors, and some images you'd like to use! I downloaded my images from the internet from Harry Potter at Home, since I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and these little cartoons are just SO CUTE! You can use any image you like, but simple, clear images will be the easier. You can also just draw onto the plastic yourself, if you have something original in mind! The important thing to remember here is that the image will shrink by about half once you are finished.

Next, cut out all the flat parts of your plastic that you will be drawing on. Some plastics may be sharp once cut, so an adult may need to help with this part.

Then, we can place our images under our plastic, and we can see them perfectly to trace! Begin with the outline of your drawing, and then you can move the image out from underneath and colour it!

Above, I have shown my image on the plastic with just the outline, and then again when I'm done colouring. Repeat with as many images as you like!

Once you have coloured, carefully cut out around your drawing, and you can leave a bit of a border. Leave extra on top, and use a hole punch to make a small hole if you want to use these as charms to hang them, as seen here.

Here are all my completed drawings before I put them in the oven!

Now, we will put our designs in the oven. A couple important notes about how to do this (that I learned the hard way):

  • use parchment paper under your designs

  • you MUST place them marker side down, or they will curl in on themselves

  • use the oven at 330 degrees Fahrenheit

  • try one piece at a time until you are sure the method will work with your designs

Place your designs in the oven at 330F for several minutes. I found that it's best (and most fun!) to keep an eye on them while they are in the oven. The pieces will curl up a bit on themselves as they shrink, and then flatten out. Once they flatten out, take them out. If you keep them in beyond this point, they will curl up again but NOT flatten out as well.

This is what they looked like when I took them out! They are about half of the size they began at, and very thick, almost glass-feeling. They are so sturdy, they could easily be made into bracelet charms, sun catchers, key chains, necklaces, and so much more!

I can't WAIT to experiment with more designs and see what else I can make!

What will you make? Please share your results with us!

Questions and Activities

  1. Describe the plastic before you decorate it. Describe the plastic after it comes out of the oven. What are the major differences?

  2. What is another way you can reduce waste in your house?

Curriculum Connections


Grade 1 Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: 1.1 identify the kinds of waste produced in the classroom, and plan and carry out a classroom course of action for minimizing waste, explaining why each action is important; 3.1 describe objects as things that are made of one or more materials

Grade 2 Understanding Matter and Energy: 1.1 assess the ways in which liquids and solids in the home are used, stored, and disposed of in terms of the effect on personal safety and the health of the environment, and suggest responsible actions to replace inappropriate practices

Grade 5 Earth and Space Systems: 1.1 analyse the long-term impacts on society and the environment of human uses of energy and natural resources, and suggest ways to reduce these impacts

Across all grades: follow established safety procedures during science and technology investigations; use appropriate science and technology vocabulary

Additional Resources

Thank you Cleverly for the inspiration for the craft idea! To see what they made, click here.

For some inspiration on what to create, check out some ideas here.

For the below resources, you will need your library card number.

An activity to make friendship bracelets for the charms (or alter it for a keychain!):

Huge collection of activities with curriculum activities to help extend the learning:

A unit on changes in matter: