I've been struggling with family harmony lately. The boys have been fighting so much lately and it's taking its toll on me. I know it's normal for siblings to fight, but some days I feel truly depressed that I must be making all the wrong parenting choices. No doubt my neighbors, listening to the chaos in happening above or below them, think I making the wrong choices, too.
Remember our family kindness resolutions for the new year? I keep reminding the kids about our resolutions to be kind to each other, but I thought some additional reinforcement would come in handy, so we spent an afternoon after school making kindness tokens.
For a while now, I've been wanting to try making DIY Shrinky Dinks out of plastic headed towards the recycling bin. I had heard you could shrink #6 plastics in the oven in the same manner as a store bought Shrinky Dink kit. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine craftiness, family togetherness and continue on my quest for more meaningful time after school. (Perhaps that will be the subject of a future post!) (This post contains affiliate links.)
What you need:
- Plastics labeled #6
- Colored Sharpies
- Oven, kids and patience (not necessarily in that order)
I cut out the shapes, since it was tricky for the boys to do that. You want to remember that when heated, the plastic will really shrink down. I found that it was rather impossible to predict how small they would shrink since the plastic lids and containers I used were different weights and thicknesses. It doesn't have to be precise for this project, anyway. My advice is to make the shapes bigger than you think you need to.
First we discussed what sort of words or phrases we should write on our pieces. Of course I wanted reminders that would promote family harmony. We agreed on words like "share", "cooperation", "please listen", etc. I added in "help with dinner" for good measure. The boys also talked about when they might say such things, so there was a good conversation happening, too. Here's Kiddo hard at work in sepia-tinted glory:
The boys wanted me to do the writing and then we all decorated the pieces. I'm not sure what it is about colored Sharpies, but they always get really excited when I bring them out. It was much easier to draw on the plastic if we placed it on top of a piece of cardboard. That also helps prevent accidental Sharpie marks on the table, although our table may actually be improved by a bit of color, the finish is in such bad shape.
Bake the plastic pieces on a foil or parchment covered tray at 350 degrees for 1-3 minutes. Watch them closely. They shrink up fast. First they curl and you think, "Arg! It doesn't work!" However, they do uncurl and lay flat. That's when they are ready. After pulling them out of the oven, you can press them flat with a metal spatula if you want. In case you are worried about smell -- I was too -- there was none.
Some of the plastics shriveled up rather oddly, but again, this is not a precision craft. It's about family harmony, not achieving perfection.
How we use the tokens:
We keep all the tokens in a small bowl on the counter. When someone wants something, they can find the token and show it to the interested party as a little reminder to be mindful of others. For example, if the boys are fighting, I can pull out the "cooperation" token. If Kiddo wants to tell me something and I have my nose in a book he can pull out the "please listen" token.
New Kid's favorite is "big hug". He likes to show it to me ten times in a row. He also shows it to his brother, but has get to receive a big hug in return. Baby steps.