After asking the students to tell me what a self-portrait is, I explain that a self-portrait is more than just a picture: we want our self-portraits to tell a story about who we are to someone who doesn't know us. So if you like cats, you might want to draw a picture of a cat. Or make your drawing of you be wearing a t-shirt in your favorite color.
I always have at least one student tell me that they can't draw, and I tell them that this project is a good way to practice their drawing skills. I tell them that drawing takes a lot of practice and that even people who can draw well didn't start out that way.
I also always tell the students that their drawing don't have to be perfect, because perfect is boring. I love it when I say this, because there is always at least one student who repeats the phrase to herself, like she is trying the idea on for size. I like to imagine that at least a few of my students here and there take that phrase home later and own it.
After the students have drawn a portrait they like, they trace it on to the shrink plastic (rough side) in pencil, and then trace over the pencil lines in marker.
The last step is to add color using colored pencils. Then they bring the design to me, where I punch a hole and bake it until it shrinks. This process amazes anyone who has never seen shrinky dinks in action!