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Use Trash to Create a Fun Craft

You can turn trash into a treasure! Really…?! No, but you can use trash to create a fun craft your students will love and it’s cheap!

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks from the good ole days? You can still find them in stores but they can be too expensive to buy for a whole class. I have a cheaper alternative that will have you dumpster diving like a pro.

You’ll need:

  • clean transparent plastic containers
  • scissors
  • hole puncher
  • permanent markers
  • an oven


I have made this craft in my classroom for several years using a toaster oven and #6 plastic with this symbol on it:

I have a good source for this plastic. The cafeteria at my school uses it for salad containers. I enjoy eating salads but I eat them more often because I need the plastic so my kiddos can make their own Shrinky Dinks. I’ve been known to dig through the trash to get more (embarrassing, I know).

an example of food container trash used to create fun crafts

Craft Directions

I start by cutting off the wavy edge of the container. Then I cut both the top and the bottom into fourths so I end up with 8 pieces total. Students draw on the small pieces of plastic with a permanent marker and cut around the design. When we create charms for necklaces and bracelets, we punch a hole in the plastic with a regular paper hole punch. To shrink the plastic, I put it in an oven preheated to about 275-300 degrees. It only takes a couple of minutes for the plastic to shrink so don’t wander off.  During the shrinking process it will curl up and look like it is ruined but then it lays down flat again.

For Mother’s Day my class made their mothers a Shrinky Dink key chain. I gave them some clip art heart samples for them to trace.  Once the plastic shrunk I added a jump ring and some key chain hardware that I found at Walmart. I think they turned out really cute.

heart shaped key chain made from shrinking plastic

You can use this craft to make…

  • Christmas ornaments
  • keychains
  • zipper pulls
  • mother’s day gifts
  • charms for bookmarks
  • necklace & bracelet charms

Interesting Ideas from Instagram

Here are some creative ideas from Instagram you can use in your classroom to turn trash into fun crafts.

This craft has so many possibilities and my students love it. I’m sure your class would love to use trash to create a fun craft too!

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Welcome to my website! I am a firm believer that math should not be scary for kids. My goal is to create lessons, activities, and games that make learning math fun and enjoyable. Read More

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