Holiday coloring project lets kids create spooky keepsakes
There’s nothing better for a kid than funneling his or her energy into something creative. My mom knew this. She always gave me fun little projects to do around the house.
Being creative became an obsession for me, and Mom was always happy to fuel my obsession. She’d buy me Lee J. Ames drawing books. She bought me “blank” Popsicle sticks to glue together into little boats.
Eventually, all these artistic juices stewed long enough that I began a tradition of landscaping our picture window with an army of spooky creatures every Halloween. I drew, colored and cut out these freaky creatures and had a lot of fun as I decorated the window.
I enjoyed it so much that I dreaded taking my “monster mash” down. Well, not any more, Mom. I’ve come up with a great plan to preserve this year’s batch — Shrinky Dinks.
Shrinky Dinks, in case you don’t remember, are sheets of plastic that kids colored and then put in the oven, and the drawings came out shrunk-down and nearly invulnerable.
With that in mind, the Shrinky Dinks Halloween project aims at keeping the kids busy for a few hours each week until the big day arrives.
Halloween Shrinky Dink village
The project allows kids to create a Halloween Town version of a Christmas Village, but instead of three-dimensional buildings, this village is going to be populated by Shrinky Dinks, and instead of being on the mantel, it will be the perfect decoration for a window. In the accompanying box are the necessary supplies.
Before beginning the project, read the Shrinky Dink instructions, which come with every packet of sheets. I strongly advise this to avoid problems once full production is under way.
Halloween Shrinky Dink Printing
You can get downloadable images for the Shrinky Dink Halloween Coloring Project, drawn by yours truly, through the links at the bottom of this article. These images include vampires, skeletons, witches and other scary Halloween fare — but nothing too scary, so they should be appropriate for all ages.
The images can be printed on the 8-by-10 plastic sheets, which is smaller than a typical sheet of paper, so you may have to adjust your tray size and print out a test sheet so you can adjust your printer if needed. The images should be printed onto the rough side of the Shrinky Dink paper.
A caveat: Some printers, particularly inkjet styles, don’t print well on Shrinky Dink paper, and might cause the image to bleed so much it will be useless.
However, printers that rely on toner work great.
If using an inkjet printer, print the Halloween Shrinky Dink images on regular paper, cut the paper down to the Shrinky
Dink paper size, and take it to a photocopier — but beware: the instructions say that plastic Shrinky Dink paper can melt inside photocopiers if the copier gets too hot.
I never had that problem, but just to be safe, I took some sheets to Staples the other day. With the kind clerk’s help, we fed the paper from the copier’s side tray instead of its paper bin, and the images printed without melting the plastic.
Once the Halloween Shrinky Dink images are printed, the kids can use colored pencils or acrylic paints to color in the Frankensteins and Draculas.
Then the images can be cut out and the circular crosshairs on each image should be punched out with a hole punch. When the plastic shrinks down, those holes are just the right size for the suction cup hooks.
Also, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Once the Shrinky Dink Halloween villagers are ready, place them, colored sides up, on a piece of brown paper wrap, like the kind used for paper grocery bags. Next they go into the oven to bake for 1 to 3 minutes. With the oven light on, kids can watch them shrink down to 1/3 their original size. As they shrink, the plastic can fold over onto itself. If that happens, leave the Shrinky Dinks in the oven just a little longer. They will soon warp back into a flat shape.
Once the Shrinky Dinks are out of the oven, give them a few minutes to cool.
Want to do the Halloween village project without involving Halloween Shrinky Dinks? No problem. It will just be on a larger scale. Just download the images and color them like a normal coloring book page. The cut-out images can be taped to the window to create an extra-large village. It’s just as fun, only a bit less permanent. …. Actually if you have a laminating machine, you can make them fully permanent at full size.
Halloween Shrinky Dink project list
- A computer with Internet access and printer.
- One or more packets of “Ruff N’Ready” Shrinky Dink paper, available at most craft stores and online.
- One or more packets of mini suction cups with hooks, also available at most craft stores.
- Colored pencils.
- A single hole puncher.
- An oven or toaster oven.
- Alternative: A laminating machine.
Halloween coloring project sheet 1 is right here.
Halloween coloring project sheet 2 is right here.
Halloween coloring project sheet 3 is right here.
Halloween coloring project sheet 4 is right here.
Halloween coloring project sheet 5 is right here.