As a child of the 90’s, I’ll always have a special love for shrink paper. Growing up, I would always create neat designs to shrink into keychains and color them in. Never, however, have I seen shrink paper that would glow in the dark…until recently, that is. You will fall in love with this DIY Glow-in-the-dark Solar System Mobile shrink art template and tutorial, perfect for the science lovers in your life.
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The solar system, and outer space in general, has always completely fascinated me. I always had glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling (or glow-in-the-dark bb pellets, thanks to my husband who glittered the ceiling with them and wrote “I you” over the bed as if it was written in the sky when the room was dark…yes, so romantic).
I’ve always taken time to stop at night and look up at the sky to marvel at the stars and, if I could see them, the planets. I’ve imagined what it would be like to visit the moon or step foot on Mars. My boys have grown the same qualities.
Since their daddy is in the Air Force, they are enamored with jets. Since their daddy and aunt are huge into Star Wars, and their mom is obsessed with galactic grandeur, they also have an immense love for all things outer space. We couldn’t decide on one theme for their bedroom, so we chose to do half “air” and half “space”…like the Air & Space Museum we love visiting when we are in the D.C. area.
The Glow-in-the-Dark Shrink Paper is even cooler than you might think. NuFun Shrink with Ink Paper is able to be sent through your printer! This means you don’t have to print a template then trace everything then color it in. You can print the template directly onto their paper then color it in or print it already in color! NuFun also has some other neat paper products such as regular shink paper, transfer paper (including glow-in-the-dark transfer paper) and paper that works with Color Wonder markers!
Note: when using Glow-in-the-Dark Shrink Paper, keep in mind that the areas that have color will not glow quite so brightly, and the areas with dark colors may hardly glow. You will not want to make the entire page black, in other words, but using regular colors as I have below works well. I also recommend leaving a small area around the design so you can see a glowing ring around each planet.
This Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Shrink Art can be used several ways:
My printable solar system mobile set is created as a coloring page, rather than full color, as a way to get the kids involved if you wish, and to allow a hands-on activity for identifying planet characteristics such as colors and sizes and patterns.
Try NuFun Activities Paper with our Coloring Page Fairies to make Itty Bitty Fairy Keychains or a Teeny Tiny Fairy Mobile (perfect for lockers)!
Did you grow up with shrink paper? What was your favorite thing to make?
DIY Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Mobile Shrink Art Template
Using the printable template below, print on NuFun Glow-in-the-Dark Shrink with Ink Paper, following the recommendations on their packaging. The paper is heavier like cardstock, so make sure you know the instructions for printing heavier papers through your printer. I own a Brother computer, which was not listed on the NuFun packaging, and it gave me some issues, but we were able to get it to work by printing using the manual function, sending one page through at a time, and using the highest quality settings.
Do not “fit to page” when you print, de-select “print all” and print only one specified page at a time, and be sure to let the pages dry completely for at least 15 minutes after printing; do not stack them.
Download Your Free Color-In Solar System Template
Using colored pencils, color in the printed designs. You can base it off of the colors I used or look online at images of the planets (that’s what I did.).
Discuss with your children different aspects of the planets–which one is the closest? Which ones have rings (one more has rings, but they are not shown…look it up!)? Which one is the largest? Describe the sizes and colors? Which planets are the “twin planets” and why? Which planet is fifth from the sun? What is the sun? Where’s Pluto and why?
There are so many great ways to turn this into an educational discussion while enjoying coloring together. Go ahead and print out an extra copy or two on plain paper if you have more than one child and someone wants to use them as a coloring page while the Solar System Mobile project is being worked on.
Carefully cut each planet out. I recommend leaving a little space around the black lines. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t do the best/most even job cutting around them. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just leave some space for extra glowing.
Using a hole punch, place a hole near the top of each planet how you want it to hang. You can see how they are meant to hang by looking at the Solar System Coloring Page template. Using a pen, label the back of each planet so you know which is which.
Following the instructions on the NuFun packaging, and keeping a very close eye on your project while it is in the oven, shrink the planets. Don’t you feel powerful? You just shrunk planets!
Note: I recommend shrinking like-size planets together. Shrink the sun on its own, Saturn and Jupiter on their own tray, and the other planets should be fine shrinking on the same tray. This helps to ensure they are all done around the same time.
Once the planets have cooled off, tie a string to the top. This step isn’t completely necessary, but it helped me with the next step which is to add a thin coat of Mod Podge to the design. Due to the nature of heated colored pencil, your hands may turn all sorts of fun colors, so Mod Podge helps to hold that color onto the design and gives them a nice seal (you can choose a shiny coating or matte coating.).
Let the glue dry completely then cut off the strings.
When you purchase the copper tubing/refrigeration coil, it will come as one giant loop with three or four turns. Carefully twist the coil to make a tighter coil with 8 or 9 turns and a bit slightly hooked at the top. This will help you properly space your planets. Copper is very malleable (another great word and metal quality to discuss with your child), so it can be easily shaped as you want it. Once you have tightened the coil, pull it slightly, upwards at the center and down at the bottom, to form a shallow cone shape.
Cut pieces of copper wire to hang the planets and sun. The pieces will need to be around 8-11 inches. You can cut them all 11 inches then adjust each accordingly when you test run how each will hang. Cut one extra piece so you can hang the mobile. Straighten each piece out.
Loop one end of each copper wire through a planet or the sun. Each gets one piece of wire.
Using the needle nose pliers, twist the folded ends together so it holds onto the planet or sun.
You will want to test run hanging each of these. Find somewhere to hang the Solar System Mobile while you work on it. You may need someone else to help hold it in place unless you want to go ahead and remove the cap on the top end of the mobile and already place the wire on for hanging. You may just want someone to help hold it in place for now as I did so you don’t have too much pressure being put on the hanger you create.
To place the wire for hanging on snugly, bend one piece of wire in half and twist about 2 inches of the ends together using the pliers, leaving the other end a big loop. Fold the twisted end onto itself and shove it inside the top end of the copper tube then fold it around the tube an inch or so and twist the remaining wire around the tube a few times until you have a loop at the top ready to hold the mobile.
Carefully bend over the loose ends of the wires attached to the planets and sun, one at a time. Start with the sun. Make sure you bend it over curved so it hangs on the copper wire, and bend it the direction it will need to be so the sun hangs facing the way you want it to. Make sure, as you do this, that all of the planets are visible. To ensure the sun would be seen, I hung it in the very center and cut this wire to about eight inches so it was a little shorter than the others. Hang the sun on the center-most ring.
Next, follow the same steps for Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. I hung mine a little off to the right on the second loop down. I cut the wire if needed so it is near the sun, but not incredibly long. This planet should be the closest to the sun.
For each following planet, hang them on the correct ring from the sun. Keep in mind that some will look closer or further because of length of the wire–you can do this any way you wish. I just made sure mine hung in a way that you could see all of the planets and they hung on the proper ring away from where the sun was hanging. Mine are heavily towards the front of the coil hanger so they can all be seen well, but you can hang them around it more as well with longer pieces of wire so each shows. Since ours hangs over my kids’ bed, I didn’t want the wires too long (so they don’t tug on them).
This will be a trial and error process, so do not attach them completely to the coil yet.
Once you know where each planet will hang on the coil, begin super gluing them in place, starting with the sun once again so all of the planets fall in the proper places. Note: I did try hot glue as that seemed more feasible, but it slipped right off of the copper pieces once it cooled, so I stuck with super glue that will work as long as you let it cure long enough.
Glue each planet into place and let the glue cure completely before moving on.
If needed, carefully straighten the wires for the planets a little more if the wires became bent. Make sure everything is hanging where you want it. You may be asking why I didn’t use strings for all of this. The answer is simple. I initially tried strings, thinking that would work best, but the pieces kept moving and getting tangled together, so I opted for something I could control a little bit better, something that also better matched with the copper wire.
Using glow-in-the-dark puffy paint, add small dabs of glowing paint here and there around the copper coil and even on the copper strands. When the lights go out, these will look like stars scattered around the planets. Let this dry completely before hanging.
If you haven’t yet, remove any remaining caps on the refrigeration coil and install the copper wire hanger. Screw a hook into the ceiling where you wish to hang your mobile and hang the mobile off of it. You may need to spin the hook to ensure the mobile is facing the direction you want it to.
Once nighttime comes, be sure to “charge” the Glow-in-the-Dark Shrink Paper. You can do this with direct sunlight by taking it outside, shining a very bright flashlight at it, or shining a real black light near it. We let ours get some sun through the window for a few hours, shined a flashlight on it a little before bed, then ultra charged it with a black light before sending the kids into dreamland.
The mobile glowed so brightly and beautifully and the planets almost looked like real planets with the textures from the glowing, colored paper. To make this decorating a little more special, we used mounting putty to add some glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and walls around the mobile.