Every single special education teacher has had the experience of laminating something… and weeks later, it falls apart.
Either a student rips it apart. Eats it, or gets it soggy with spit. Throws it and steps on it. Or it just falls apart from repeated, every day use.
And #letsbehonest … it’s frustrating.
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. View the full disclosure policy here.
Because prepping materials takes time, we are busy, and while we certainly cannot expect our classroom to be “Pinterest Perfect”, well ever, we need our resources to be functional and hold up to every day classroom use.
I, for one, am tired of stuff falling apart. Raise your hand if you’re with me!
So I researched, and Pinterested… and researched some more… and found the perfect solution.
Enter: Shrink Film.
Before anything else, I had to create the pages/images that I wanted to shrink. I chose a couple cute Melonheadz, visual schedule images, and some token board checks.
Step 1: Create or find the pages of images you want to shrink.
You can print anything you want on the film. The ShrinkyDinks film shrinks to 1/3 the original size, and the Shrink Film shrinks to 50% of the original size.
Step 2: Print, or color on.
The cool thing about both shrink paper selections, is that you can print on them or draw on them in Sharpies. I chose to print, and it can be challenging to get your printer to sense the shrink paper.
Step 3: Cut the images out.
I let them sit for a few minutes to let the ink dry. It wasn’t visually wet, or wet to the touch after printing, but I wanted to be safer than sorrier.
Step 4: Turn on your oven.
Neither package told me a specific heat setting, so I went with 350 degrees.
Make sure that you let the oven heat up before putting your shrink film in. #lessonlearned
Step 5: Get a baking pan or sheet.
I went with a pan that had edges, so nothing could fall out.
Step 6: Place in oven.
The ShrinkyDinks takes a few more seconds than the Shrink Film to actually shrink. Also, just a heads up, the ShrinkyDinks tends to curl while heating, so if you don’t watch carefully it can ruin images. The Shrink Film shrinks flat (which is the main reason I preferred it over the latter).
Step 7: Heat in oven for 15-20-30 seconds at a time.
My oven is not clean, I need to get Cinderella on that. BUT you can always watch it shrink through the oven window. Or open the door and check every 20ish seconds. Don’t leave it in too long, or it will burn.
Step 8: Take out of oven and let cool.
I took them off of the hot baking pan and placed them on the countertop, followed by a wooden cutting board. You know, just to make sure they were flat enough (especially the ShrinkyDinks film).
Step 9: There is no step 9. That’s it.
The overall process time to print and shrink… (not including cutting time or oven preheat time) is about 5-10 minutes.
These are all of the fun images that I shrunk on the first round.
You’ll notice the pieces with the super white background came out a little wonkier and less uniform… that’s the ShrinkyDinks. All of the more perfect-looking-shrunken images were printed on the Shrink Film (which is the clear winner and my favorite!).
Instant game changer… I am seriously so excited with how the boards and check marks turned out.
The visual schedule symbols came out amazing beautiful too.
I laminated a yellow file folder, and then cut it in half. The student will use the one side to keep track of his day, and the other half will be used to store extra pieces, like OT, PT, assembly… the pieces that he will need to swap out on days his schedule is not typical.
What do you think of this life changing classroom symbol hack?