It's normal for siblings to fight, but it can really take a toll on parents when it seems all their kids do is bicker, bicker, bicker. One way to encourage kids to bond is to engage them in a craft activity like these kindness tokens. Working on this project focuses their attention on a positive message.
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.
Since making the shrink plastic shell garland, 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.
How to Make Kindness Tokens
Making kindness tokens seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine craftiness, family togetherness and continue on my quest to prevent after school meltdowns. This project may be a bit more complicated than this spontaneous activity that helps siblings work together, but it was fun!
What you need:
- Plastics labeled #6
- Markers (Sharpies or other permanent markers)
- Oven, kids and patience (not necessarily in that order)
Preparation and Design
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.
Next, the boys and I discussed what sort of words or phrases we should write on our kindness tokens. 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.
The boys wanted me to do the writing, so I obliged. After that, we all decorated the pieces. I'm not sure what it is about colored Sharpies, but the kids always get really excited when I bring them out. They love using Sharpies to make Zentangles.
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.
How to Bake the Tokens
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 to 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. Combined with the sibling "tip" jar, they're a great addition to our kindness journey.
For example, if the boys are fighting, I can pull out the "cooperation" token. If my son wants to tell me something and I have my nose in a book he can pull out the "please listen" token.
My youngest son's favorite token is "big hug". He likes to show it to me ten times in a row. He also shows it to his brother, but has yet to receive a big hug in return. Baby steps.