Here is a quick and inexpensive activity that blends two of the best things in the world…St. Patty’s day and science!!! A very talented reading recovery teacher, Steph Boyd, passed this craft down to me and it quickly turned into my favorite kindergarten project.
Bottom line – when Styrofoam cups are baked in the oven, they shrink to the perfect shape and size for a leprechaun’s hat!! So Awesome!
You can take this art project in a few different directions…
- Young Classes – First, have your young class decorate Styrofoam cups for a St. Patrick’s Day treat. Next, tell them to leave their decorated cups on their desks when they depart for the day. Once they have left, collect the cups and bake them at home. Prior to their arrival next morning, return the “new” cups to their desks – when they display surprise at the “new” cups, you should act as shocked as them. “It must have been the leprechauns that magically changed these cups! How else could these cups turn into hats!”
- Older Classes – The mischievous magic may be lost on older classes, however, you can easily turn this activity into a science experiment. Will adding marker or crayon to the cups change the bake time? Will smaller cups bake faster? What causes the cups to change shape?
Directions for your shrink-dink St. Patrick’s Day craft:
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and ensure it is completely preheated.
- Place colored cups top down on a baking sheet in your oven.
- Keep the light on and watch them closely. The cups will start to change shape after about 20 seconds. They usually expand at first and then will shrink very quickly so keep a close eye on them.
Here is a progression of the baking cups:
|This cup only took a little over a minute but I have had a few that took up to three minutes.|
- Try one at home first. Every bag of Styrofoam cups may bake differently. Do not test a plain cup…color your cup with the same materials you will have your students use (permanent marker, crayons, or both).
- Bake only a few at a time. This helps in case you choose to grab one out before the others. Also, if you have too many cups in the oven, you may not be able to see all of them (especially the ones in a second row).
- Seeing as though tiny witches are about the same size as little leprechauns, this could also be a Halloween craft!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!