Shrinky Dink Valentines


shrinky dink valentines

If you want a fun, colorful Valentines day craft project, try Shrinky Dinks!

What? You’ve never tried Shrinky Dinks? They are sheets of thin plastic. You color, cut and bake them. When baked, they shrink to 1/3 the size! They have been popular since the 1970s and kids LOVE them. Watch this brief video to see how they work.


Cut and Color

Option 1) Cut each sheet of plastic into quarters (I do this on the paper cutter) and distribute. Students draw a heart, color it on the frosted side with colored pencils, and cut it out themselves. The heart necklace above was made this way.

Option 2) Adult pre-cuts the hearts and distributes. Students color with colored pencils. All the heart pins in the photo above were made this way (with the help of a parent volunteer).

Bake at 325F

Then bake in a toaster oven or regular oven at 325 degrees F for about three minutes. Tip: watch the shrinky dinks through the oven window. They need to curl up and then flatten.  Don’t take them out before they’ve flattened! We let them flatten, count to 30 and then remove from the oven.

For this project, one of our teachers brought her toaster oven to school and called her students two by two to watch their valentines shrink. THEY LOVED IT!

Necklace, Pin or Magnet

For a necklace, punch with a hole punch BEFORE baking. For a pin, hot glue on a pin back after baking. You can use magnetic tape or hot glue on a magnet.

Happy Valentines Day!


Happy Throwback Thursday! Stop by on Thursdays to see ‘old school’ art projects!


How to Make Clay Human Figures


war veterans art center

MoMA’s ‘How to Make Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture’ was initially published in 1947. Photo source:

MoMA’s 1947 publication, How To Make Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture, by Julia Duncan and Victor D’Amico, contains 20 hand-built ceramic projects, from pinch and coil pots to slip casting. Here is Project VII – The Human Figure.

20140129-081215.jpgMoMA clay figure step by step

The projects in How to Make Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture were taught at MoMA’s War Veterans’ Art Center. Did you know that from 1944-1948, MoMA operated an art center just for WWII war veterans?

The War Veterans’ Art Center was devoted to the rehabilitation of veterans. Its goal was “to discover the best and the most effective ways of bringing about, through the arts, the readjustment of the veteran to civilian life.” The work of the War Veteran Art Center was considered progressive within the field of art therapy in the United States (source:

Over 1000 vets took classes in painting, sculpture and ceramics, jewelry, design, illustration and more. The War Veteran’s Art Center couldn’t accommodate all the vets on the waiting list, so MoMA put out a series of art manuals that could be used for self-instruction or as an aid to any teacher of large groups.

The 20 hand-built projects in the ceramics manual are well-written and well-photographed. Stay tuned – I may feature more later this year.


Happy Throwback Thursday! Stop by on Thursdays to see what I’ve found in my vintage art education collection.

Texture Collage

Want to introduce your students to texture? Try a texture collage project.


Collage and Construction in Grades 1-4 by Lois Lord, 1970 edition.

I found great instructions in the book Collage and Construction in Grades 1-4 by master art teacher/author Lois Lord. You’ll need large paper for the background format, glue, stapler and scissors, plus ‘materials of contrasting texture’:

Rough textured materials include corrugated cardboard, burlap…used sandpaper, wood shavings, egg-crate dividers, excelsior, and orange, onion and potato sacks.

Contrasting soft -textured material include pieces of fabric such as velvet; scraps of fur; cotton; bits of sponge; and feathers…

Materials with smooth textures include shiny metallic papers bought or salvaged from Christmas wrappings, chewing gum, and other packets. 

Collage and Construction in Grades 1-4, p.10.

Lucky you – you get to actually watch Ms. Lord teach this collage lesson. Please enjoy ‘Collage: Exploring Texture’, filmed back in 1961.

Not only to I love Ms. Lord’s teaching style, I love how she organized her collage supplies by texture and how she distributed the supplies. I wish she had been my teacher! Although this film was produced back in 1961, it is still inspiring.

You may have noticed Ms. Lord’s students used jars of liquid paste applied with a brush. It reminded me of this no-spill paint cup filled with glue at the collage station at San Diego’s New Children’s Museum.  The cups come with lids so you can cap them up at night. You will need to soak the brushes in water after use. (note: this may be a good use for the brushes that come with your pan watercolor sets). Want more glue options? Click here and here to see other glue cups in the classroom.

White glue in spill-proof paint cup at San Diego's New Children's Museum

White glue in spill-proof paint cup at San Diego’s New Children’s Museum.

Thanks to Wendy Apfel for sharing this excellent video on Vimeo.


Happy Throwback Thursday! Stop by next Thursday to see what I’ve discovered in my vintage art education collection.

Group Art Rug

Punch rug created by a group of elementary students. Photo appeared in Arts and Activities Magazine, February 1974

Punch rug created by a group of elementary students. Photo appeared in Arts and Activities Magazine, February 1974


I found a really interesting group art project in an old Arts and Activities magazine. Teacher Harriet M. Judy of Niles, Illinois, wrote ‘Rug Punching’ for the February 1974 issue. Before reading this article, I had never even heard of rug punching, but I was attracted to the bold graphic design (it reminds me of Disneyland’s ‘It’s a Small World’). Here is an excerpt:

The children were introduced to rug punching in the late fall.  The use of bright colors and bold, geometric shapes was stressed as each child planned his design on manila paper.  Old picture frames were collected, and burlap was tacked to them. (The tacking itself required coordination and was great fun.)  The children drew their designs on the back of the burlap with permanent markers.  A spare frame was used to demonstrate to the children the technique of using the rug punch needles.  The children were allowed to work on their rugs after they had completed their other assignments and during a specified time at the end of the day.

The results were judged so magnificent that the teachers and the children decided to combine all the separate designs into one large wall hanging for display inside the entrance to the school.  So a stretcher frame big enough to handle a large piece of canvas was purchased by the school.  The burlap was attached to it, the designs were drawn, and the group work was begun.

…these boys and girls were so enthusiastic and absorbed in their project that they worked well together.  Each one had his own design to work on, and everyone worked together around the frame.  All the children’s names were worked into one corner by a teacher.  When the rug punching was completed, the frame was painted.

The rug now hangs on a large wall in the entrance to the school.  It is most impressive, and everyone admires and enjoys the colorful designs.

Click here to learn how to rug punch, or watch this 2-minute video.


Happy Throwback Thursday! Stop by next Thursday to see what I’ve found in my stash of vintage art education magazines.

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