Holy smokes! Summer is here, the kids are home and you need activities to keep them busy that won’t cost an arm and leg. Well, no worries because I’ve teamed up with a few of our blogging friends to bring you fun summer activities for children of all ages! From June 4th through June 8th, we’ll be sharing 3 new summer project ideas each day. Our goal is to not only survive the summer break, but help provide some enriching activities to keep the boredom at bay! There’s a list of fabulous ideas that at the bottom of this post and I’m sure you’ll find something fun for the kids to do. But first, enjoy the tutorial I am sharing for how to make Tropical Shrinky Dinks Charms and Pins that’s a great craft for both young kids AND teens.

How to make Tropical Shrinky Dinks Charms and Pins

Tropical Shinky Dinks Charms and Pins

First, I have to warn you that this is a VERY ADDICTIVE craft. This is the first time my kids have played with Shrinky Dinks and they loved it! In fact, they were so intrigued by Shrinky Dinks that my college aged daughter and my teen son both got involved in making their own versions of Shrinky Dinks charms. Now, that’s saying a lot, considering my oldest daughter isn’t the crafting type and my son is, well…a teen aged boy who loves his computer.

Tropical Shrinky Dink Charms on bracelet and tropical Shrinky Dink Pins


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How to Make Tropical Shrinky Dinks Charms

Creating the Image

Tropical Shrinky Dinks Charms and Pins layout on PicMonkey

Images for the Shrinky Dink charms can be free-hand drawn or traced using images found on the internet. I created two printable tropical images sheets using PicMonkey images that I sized to make charms and earrings.

To test if the images will shrink to the size you want, draw out one image on the Shrinky Dinks plastic and bake it to test the final size. If you feel they are still not the right size, you can adjust the print size to make them smaller/bigger or create your own sheet in PicMonkey.

Tracing the Image

Tracing Monstera leaf image onto the Shrinky Dinks plastic

Once you have the image you like, place the Shrink Dinks plastic over it with the shiny side up and trace the outline of the image.

Erase outline mistake on leg

If you make a mistake with permament pen on the shiny side, don’t fear. Grab an eraser and gently erase the outline and retrace. This doesn’t work as well on the frosted side, so get the plain clear Shrinky Dinks plastic if working with young kids so they can erase any mistakes.

TIP 1: When tracing the image, do it on the smooth side of the Shrinky Dinks plastic and color in the the rough side or opposite side. This will prevent smudging  or ‘bleeding’ of the outline.

Tip 2: If using text, make sure to reverse the text if writing on the frosted/colored side and you want it readable on the shiny side. If writing on the shiny side, leave the text as-is.

Coloring the Image

Coloring the Monstera leaf and hibiscus flower with permanent pens on the frosted side.

When the outline is completed, flip the tracing over to the frosted side and color inside the outline.

TIP 3: The colors will intensify as the plastic shrinks. So, a light pink will become a darker pink color. Also, if you want to show contrast or highlighting, do not use similar colors next to each other as it will not show when it shrinks. For example, do not use blue and black next to each other as the blue will look black when shrunk.

TIP 4: Permanent pens, color pencils, acrylic paint, and paint pens can be used. We only tried two methods: permanent pens and color pencils. Permanent pens gave a more translucent color and color pencils gave a more opaque color. Use a combination of pens and pencils for added interest.

Punching Holes

Skip this step for earrings and pins. I forgot to take picture of punching holes, but I basically took a regular hold puncher and made holes next to the image for charms.

Cutting Shrinky Dinks Plastic

Cutting around the Shrinky Dinks pineapple

Use a small detail scissors to cut around the image (cut around the hole punch too for charms), leaving a minimum 1/8″ edge. Try not to pivot around tight corners, but rather cut in towards the angle to prevent the plastic from splitting. Also, if there are lots of small cuts, it’s best to cut straight across them (see hula girl skirt in image below).

Closeup of tropical shrinky dinks hula girl skirt

Tip 5: Use small detail scissors to cut the plastic as it can maneuver curves easier than large scissors. Also, try not to close to the image or cut the plastic with the tip of the scissors as it can cause the plastic to split. Use the inside or back end of the scissors to do the cutting.

Tip 6: It’s best to cut around details than try to make detailed cuts. Trying to make small sharp detailed cuts can cause the Shrinky Dinks plastic to split into the design/drawing and that’s no good.

Baking Shrinky Dinks Plastic

Tropical Shrinky Dinks on baking pan with parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet or baking pan with  parchment paper to help prevent the Shrinky Dinks plastic from sticking to it. Place the tropical Shrinky dinks charms onto the parchment paper with the colored side up and bake.

This is the best part! The Shrinky dinks charms will curl and you’ll freak out, but it will eventually flatten out. It takes about 2-3 minutes to bake. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the charms cool, about 1-2 minutes.

Optional – spray the charms with clear acrylic sealer (gloss to keep it shiny or matte for a flat look). Let dry and repeat with the other side. If you don’t put a sealer, the color on the shiny side can be scratched off if repeatedly rubbed against rough surfaces.

Tip 7: If the pieces aren’t completely flat, you can take a piece of smooth paper and gently press on it to help flatten it when removed from the oven. Do not use anything textured or hard as this will leave an imprint on the soft plastic surface (I learned the hard way). Personally, I think it’s best to leave the piece alone as any little texture will show up on the piece when it’s still soft and can ruin it.

Tip 8: The instructions states that if a piece sticks to itself you can pull it apart with oven mitts. While you can pull it apart, it does leave a crease mark in the piece. So it’s best not to make super large images as the larger ones tend to curl up on itself.

Tropical Shrinky Dinks Charms, Pins, and Earrings

Adding jump rings to the tropical Shrinky Dinks charms

For charms, add a jump ring through the hole on the charm and attach it to a bracelet, necklace, key ring, or whatever you want to add a charm to.

Glue backings to the tropical shirnky dinks

Pineapple tropical shrinky dinks earrings
Earrings made from page 2 are about 5/8″ tall and 3/8″ wide.

To make earrings and pins, use a clear strong adhesive to glue the pin/earring posts to the back of the Shrinky Dinks charm. I used Aleene’s The Ultimate Multi-Surface Adhesive to attach the backings and it works like a charm.

Tropical Shrinky Dink Charms and Pins
Tropical Shrinky Dinks bracelet, pins, and earrings

Overall, Shrinky Dink charms and pins are something that I can see us making for a long time. They make a great activity for all ages and let kids express and capture their creativity in a fun way.

Want more summer fun boredom buster ideas? Click to the next page and get 16+ more ideas!

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  1. These are so adorable! We once made our own Shrinky Dinks using rubber stamps but I love the idea of using computer print outs; my boys would be coloring up Pokemon, Minecraft and other assorted characters all afternoon. Thanks for sharing with us at the Summer Time Fun linky; Pinned.

  2. OMG – I want to make them! Lots of them! And I’m 38 years old, lol. What a great material. I will see if I can get it here in Germany, but I bet Amazon will make that happen for me.

  3. I loved shrinky dinks when I was little. I was so happy to see them again and it took me back to my childhood. I can’t wait until my kids are older to make these, I just don’t trust them with permanent markers yet, but maybe we can try it with colored pencils. That’s awesome that even your older kids got involved. Pinning!

  4. I see why your older kids enjoyed these. Heck, I want to do it! I love that you create your own images to make and then can make whatever you want. I think I would enjoy making a couple of key chains. Heading over to check out Shrinky Dinks.