Make Your Own Play Mat

A project for the future city planners of tomorrow

by , posted on March 22nd, 2011 in Arts & Crafts, Kids DIY

The activity I’m sharing today originally appeared in a column I write for a news site. I wanted to share it here because it was a big hit—especially with kids who love to build. Plus it’s a great rainy day or weekend activity. And I kind of adore it. No, wait. I’ll own it. I do adore it.

So what do I adore about this make your own play mat idea? First of all, it’s simple. Second, it incorporates planning, cooperation (if you have more than one child drawing on the same drop cloth), fine motor exercise and creativity. But my very most favorite thing about it? It’s got tons o’ options. I do love options, don’t you? For starters, you can either give kids free reign with designing their play mat or set them up with a challenge.

And even the challenges have options. What are the challenges? Well, I’m glad you asked. You can challenge the kids by asking one of these questions:

-Create the ultimate town. What stores would it have in it? What favorite features would you include?
-Create a town of the future. How will people get around? What will the town center look like?
-Draw your town or neighborhood. Where is the library? How about the post office? Make sure you include your favorite places to visit.
-Or make up your own challenge.

Here’s one more thought: For older kids, I’d suggest incorporating a planning step prior to drawing on the mat. Have them sketch out the town out on a small piece of paper, then draw to scale. It’s just like the real planners do.

Have fun!


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7 Responses to “Make Your Own Play Mat”

  1. Nikki Says:

    March 22nd, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I love this, I used to do something similar in Nursery where I would put a regular play mat in the middle of a massive piece of paper and the children could expand the mat, or with the train tracks so they could draw and build at the same time. For slightly older children we would use those little photo holders which are a block with a stem and clip to make little road signs to. Much more fun way for writing/mark-making than sheets of paper.

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Nikki, absolutely brilliant ideas for making this even better! Incorporating the 3D aspect is genius.

  2. Nikki Says:

    March 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Oh I just saw this and know it’s not really the same thing but feels sort of linked
    Thought you could maybe use this as a starting point for drawing plans of dream houses, space houses, haunted houses etc. Just a random late night (should be asleep) thought.

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    How cool is that?! Fantastic idea! In fact, I know a certain kid who would have loved this project even more had I given her those options.

    Might try this with her tomorrow.

    Thank you for the idea & inspiration!

  3. Elisabeth Says:

    March 31st, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    This is a great idea! I’m filing it away for when my toddler’s a bit older. :)

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Yaaay! So glad you like it!

  4. Cars Says:

    August 15th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    [...] 1. DIY Play Mat [...]

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