Find the Magic with DIY Shrinky Dinks

Do you remember those magical crafts from the seventies called Shrinky Dinks? Or perhaps you’ve never even heard of them? Shrinky Dinks were invented in 1973 by two women from Wisconsin and was intended to be a Cub Scout project with their children.  The craft soon took off and by the eighties was a household name. But what are Shrinky Dinks? Essentially they are a type of plastic, that when baked, shrinks down while preserving the shape and integrity of the image while taking the consistency of glass. Shrinky Dinks are still around and can be purchased from your local arts and crafts store but why not save some money and make your own!

This is what you will need:
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- Clean #6 Plastic
- Permanent Markers
- Scissors
- Aluminum Foil
- Toaster Oven or Oven
- Tongs or Oven Mitt

Are you into recycling? All you need to start with is a piece of #6 plastic. You can find these just about anywhere and chances are that you have some sitting in your recycling bin at home. These can commonly be found at grocery stores, salad bars and delis.

Cut any portions of the plastic away that isn’t flat and smooth. This flat piece will become your canvas.

Now it’s time to put those creative caps on. Apply your drawing or text with permanent markers. You can go as large or small as you want but be aware that your image will shrink down to a 3rd of its original size and will become 5 – 6 times its original thickness.

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Now set your oven to 350 degrees and create a tray from your aluminum foil by bending up the edges on each side. This will help you move your Shrinky Dinks out of the oven with ease.

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Now place your creations on the foil tray and set them onto the lowest oven rack. At first, your images will curl wildly on the tray but don’t panic! they will soon flatten out on their own (see video below). After 90 seconds keep an eye out to see when they begin to flatten. For a plastic piece that’s 5”-6” the whole process should take 3 ½ minutes. (Please note: if using a toaster oven the process will happen within 1 minute so make sure to watch your Shrinky Dink closely.)

IMG 2741 from BPost on Vimeo.

It’s time to remove your tray from the oven. Use your tongs or oven mitt and move your tray to a flat surface. You now have about 10 seconds to flatten the image with a large book or carefully bend the corners to add your creative touch.


After your Shrinky Dink cools you can still cut it, drill it, sand it or glue it.

There are many amazing things that you can make with DIY Shrinky Dinks like an infinite supply of wacky characters, or you could start your own personal line of designer jewelry, or if you have enough free time you could make a Shrinky Dink diorama!

Photo by Stella Belikiewicz Flickr
Photo by Stella Belikiewicz Flickr
Photo by Alanna George Flickr
Photo by Alanna George Flickr
Photo by Sarah Olmstead Flickr
Photo by Sarah Olmstead Flickr


Check out some great crafting idea books from our collection:

Jacket  Jacket (2) Jacket (1)

What We Should Know About Infectious Diseases

Although Ebola is a deadly disease for those who live in areas where it is prevalent, the likelihood of catching it here in North America is very slim. Reading about how Ebola increased so dramatically with such deadly effects in such a short time is very frightening.  Clearly the countries affected were not prepared but it also appears that the worldwide effort was too small and too slow.

If only more people had read some of the these books:

the hot zoneThe Hot Zone, by Richard Preston, has this subtitle: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus.  Though published first in 1994, this account of the discovery of the Ebola Virus and other similar viruses is still very relevant.  This is one of the first books to show the frightening possibilities of new infectious diseases.

SpilloverSpillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, by David Quammen, examines the possibility that the next great pandemic will be a new disease—at least new to humans—but one that coexists with animals.  Why might this happen?  Because human populations are growing and expanding into more animal habitats and humans are coexisting ever closer to their animal counterparts.

ebolaQuammen also has a brand new book titled Ebola:  The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus which shows that we still don’t know which animal is the host for this deadly disease.  Because we don’t know where it lives, it is likely to reappear at any time and infect people.


the great influenzaThe Great Influenza, by John M. Barry, describes the “deadliest pandemic in history” which killed perhaps 100 million people worldwide. What was so frightening about this disease is that it killed many healthy young people—not just infants or older people.  It spread rapidly from city to city, country to country and around the globe.  Appearing out of nowhere, governments were unable to meet the needs of the sick and dying.  Researchers worked feverishly to understand the cause of the disease and create vaccines.  Fortunately flu vaccines continue to save many lives every year.  On the other hand, variations of the flu virus can mutate into new deadly versions,

The appeal of these books is that they read like detective novels. Over and over in human history, deadly diseases have appeared and reappeared only to strike fear in the population.   While earlier in history “bad air” or “miasma” might have been a possible explanation for the spread of a disease, scientific methods have shown that there is a culprit causing the outbreak and the great task is to identify the origin and then to discover a cure or vaccine.

Here are more great reads about the fascinating scientific investigations into diseases.

Master PowerPoint in Less than 3 Hours

The Library can make your life easier in so many ways.  Last week I took an online course in PowerPoint, from my home, for free, through the library. In no time I took my humdrum PowerPoint presentation skills to a new level. I didn’t even need the software!  I’m a Mac person and needed to learn on the version I have at work, so I just selected PowerPoint 2010 for PC and was off and running with everything I needed, right on my screen, delivered to my Mac.

My time investment for this jumpstart to my presentation skills: under 3 hours. My cost: zero. I used the Popular Software Tutorials section of Learning Express Library, which you can access from our library website anywhere with an Internet connection, using your library card.

It was so easy! I really like the Learning Express approach to teaching, it is easy to follow, easy to skip around and get just what you need, fast to load and uncomplicated.

The recorded tutorials demonstrate whatever software you need so you can prepare, for example, for a job interview whether or not you own or have even seen the product or program. The interface is designed to be user friendly with or without much computer experience.

I’ve been using PowerPoint occasionally for years, but the Basic PowerPoint course covered more than enough to vastly improve my skill level and save me lots of time while producing better results. Now I can’t wait to take the Advanced PowerPoint course.

Here’s how:

Go to choose “Research & Learn” then “Subjects A-Z”.  Choose “Improve Career Skills” and select Learning Express Library.  Enter your library card when prompted.  Enter “PowerPoint” in the search box on the Learning Express Library home page, from the list, choose from 2007, 2008 (Mac), 2010 or 2013, Basic or Advanced. Create a log in of your own to save your selections to “My Center” and enjoy working on them at your leisure.

While you are at it, think about what you will do with all that extra time…I went shopping! Thank you, Library, you timesaver, you!

Parenting is Not for Sissies (But We Can Help)

I had one of those mornings the other day. You know, one of those mornings where your toddler wakes up at 5:30 in the morning and proceeds to climb out his crib and create havoc in his bedroom by taking his diaper off….  Then, while you are dealing with that disaster, your oldest child clocks his younger brother in the face with a toy giving him a black eye and they both end up grappling with each other and sliding down the interior stairs of your split-level house where they crash into (and knock over) your paper-filled tote bag which you had carefully set at the foot of the stairs so that you would not forget to take it to work.

Photo by Niklas Hellerstedt Flickr

Parenting, although ultimately rewarding, can be one of the hardest jobs on this planet. Fortunately, there are some excellent parenting resources right here in Kitsap County.

Kitsap Regional Library
The library offers a huge collection of parenting materials (including downloadable ebooks,  downloadable audiobooks, and dvds) in addition to offering story times on varied days/times. Storytimes are a great way to meet and connect with other parents.   And don’t forget to visit our Kids and Teens pages too!

New Parent Support Group
A partnership between Harrison Medical Center and the Kitsap County Health Department (in addition to a host of other organizations) offers education, community resources and parenting information in drop in groups in three different locations throughout the county.  Contact the Kitsap County Health Department at (360) 337-4821 or for more information.

This group provides support for mothers of newborns through kindergartners and aims to “…connect moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood. MOPS groups are rallying women to be more honest, to feel more equipped and to identify our journey by journeying alongside one another.”  Find your local group

Ready for Kindergarten for South Kitsap School District.
This program is for South Kitsap School District residents.  South Kitsap School District knows that the early learning years are powerful and wants to help every child be successful when they start school. The READY! for Kindergarten program helps parents prepare their children for kindergarten. The goal of the program is to provide information to parents about how their child learns at each age level and to provide kits with essential “tools” and activities that parents can do with their children at home to make learning easy and fun so their children are ready to enter kindergarten.
For more information please contact: 360-874-7058.

The Parenting Place
This program is located in West Bremerton and offers “…a full spectrum of services designed to build strong families in Kitsap County. Classes for parents and children build on existing strengths using the Developmental Assets Model.”  Topics include: Parenting and beyond, parenting teens, helping children who have witnessed domestic violence, the challenging child, love and logic, strengthening families and nurturing parenting.  Check to see if your daycare participates in the Early Achievers program. Early Achiever families can take classes completely free of charge. Register for classes by calling 360-473-2134. Find more information at:

Home School Educators – Get Together!

My nerdy confession is that I love to learn about education and as such, I’m very interested in home school education. As a youth services librarian, I’ve been fortunate to work with several homeschool families throughout the years and have learned that each family employs distinct methods and a variety of resources to teach their children.

Homeschoolers use a variety of curricula, texts, and online resources; many participate in co-ops and many do not; some utilize local school district programs and others do not. One commonality I’ve observed is that homeschooling families use their public library. So homeschoolers, how can we serve you better?

Homework by _Jens_ via Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Homework by _Jens_ via Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Port Orchard branch is hosting a Homeschool Meet-up each month. Our hope is that homeschooling families can get together, share information, discover resources to support their educational goals at home, and advise the library about services and collections to better serve our Kitsap homeschool community.

More info:

Homeschoolers in Kitsap (HIK): An online support system for homeschoolers in Kitsap County

ospiWashington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction -Private Education and Home-based instruction


Washington Homeschool Organization



Check out books about home schooling.




When Are You Coming Home?

Military parents must deal with this question from their young children in a more substantive manner than most  families.   Deployments can be long and explaining this situation to a very young child in a positive and understandable manner may be difficult.  Did you know that the library has resources that can help?

South Carolina National Guard by The National Guard via Flickr. Used under CC BY 2.0.
South Carolina National Guard by The National Guard via Flickr.

“When Are You Coming home?” is a library booklist available both on line and as a handout at our branches.  It contains many useful titles that deal with separation anxiety in a reassuring manner that may be helpful for both parents and children.  Many titles on the list deal explicitly with military deployments.

when dad's at seaWhen Dad’s At Sea” by Mindy Pelton tells the story of Emily, whose father is a Navy pilot.  When she makes a friend whose dad has also shipped out, she realizes that she is not the only one who sometimes feels sad when her Dad is away.


A Paper Hug” by Stephanie Skolmoski describes how a little boy figures out a way to give his Dad a big, loving, hug that can be taken with him on deployment!

In “Lily Hates Goodbyes” by Jerilyn Marler, Lily learns to cope with her emotions, both good and bad, when her father is deployed.  She learns to be happy in her daily life while looking forward to joyfully saying “Hello!” when Daddy gets home.

While you are awayWhile You Are Away” by Eileen Spinelli describes three children who look forward to happy reunions with their military Moms and Dads who are each away in a different branch of the armed forces.

These titles, and many others on the list, are meant to share with young children and ease the stress that deployment can bring to families.   As we honor our military veterans this week, current military families facing a deployment may find these library resources to be of help!

Trying to Find a Book for Your Teen But Don’t Know Where to Start?

Does this sound familiar?  It can be a challenge to keep a book in the hands of a teen at a time when there’s so much else going on in their lives, but you’ve come to the right place.

Your local library’s Youth Services Librarian is a great person to ask about books for teens.  Helping connect parents, teens, and kids to books is one of the favorite parts of our job!  If the librarian isn’t available when you need help, feel free to leave your contact information and we’ll get right back to you.

If you can’t make it to the library, don’t worry – you can also send us an email or chat with us.

Another great go-to for teen books are the teen choice award lists.  There’s new nominees every year and these are great resources for high interest titles.

TTT logoTeens’ Top Ten is a national list which was highlighted in a recent blog post.  In addition to popular titles, there’s always some lesser-known but excellent titles on the list.



yrc logo

Young Reader’s Choice Award is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA).  The awards lists are separated into three categories: Junior, Intermediate, and Senior.


EvergreenBooks2015Evergreen Teen Book Award is sponsored by the Washington Young Adult Review Group (WashYARG), a group comprised of school and public librarians from the state of Washington.



KRL Youth Services Librarians have also created a number of teen booklists with suggestions of readalikes.  There’s genres such as fantasy, horror and humor, as well as readalikes for popular series or authors like The Hunger Games and John Green; and subjects such as Christian fiction, bullying, and LGBT.

If your teen has a title or author they loved in the past but have not been able to find something similar,  give Novelist a try. Novelist is a KRL subscription database, which means you need your library card number to access it. Created by librarians, Novelist is perfect for finding a book that’s similar to one you’ve already loved.

Once you’ve got all of these new suggestions, where should you keep track of them?  Goodreads, of course!  In addition to being a perfect way to keep track of booklists, the site also has a suggestion tool.

I hope these lists give you some great ideas to keep your teen reading.  And who knows, you might find some titles to add to your own “to-read” list!


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