One of the children’s chores in the house it to help set the table for dinner. We created these learning placemats to help them remember where each item goes on the table.
These placemats make a great learning tool for young children who are just learning how to set the table as well as a handy reminder for anyone else who sets your table.
To make these learning placemats start with a rectangle of stiff paper. You can use poster board from your local craft or discount store. The paper should be about eighteen inches wide by about fourteen inches tall. If you are making placemats for the whole family you might consider making each one a different color by starting with different colors of poster board. You could also make each of them the same color and label them with each family member’s name.
Once you have your poster board cut to the right size lay it out on your working surface and collect an empty table service for everything you would normally need for a meal. You will need a plate, a knife, a spoon, at least one fork, and a drinking cup. If your family routinely uses salad or desert forks or has an extra side dish on a bowl or plate, make sure to get one of those too.
On separate sheets of paper you will need to trace around each item of table service. For our set of placemats we traced each family member’s service from different colors of construction paper. For instance, one child had all their service done in red, another child had all their service done in yellow. All the background colors were the same though. We put all ours on plain white poster board.
Once you have all your service pieces cut out of the construction paper lay them in place on to your poster board. The dinner plate should go in the center, the fork should go to the left of the plate. If you have a smaller fork it will go to the left of the first fork. On the other side of the plate put the knife with the blade side facing the plate and then the spoon to the right of that. Put the circle for your drinking cup just above the knife and the spoon. If you are using an extra desert or salad plate it will go high on the left, above the fork.
Make sure that you have an adult double check the placement before you move on to the next step. This is especially important if you are making several sets of these at once, otherwise you may find your children have accidentally given one person nothing but spoons, someone else two beverages, and so on.
Once you are sure you have everything in place lift each piece slightly and add a bit of glue so they won’t slide during the next step.
Once all your pieces are solidly in place you will need to laminate the mat so that they don’t get ruined the first time someone spills a bit of dinner onto it.
You can find actual lamination at your local craft store. But is it just as easy (and less expensive) to use clear Contact Paper. Contact Paper is that sticky-backed shelf covering you can find it in the housewares aisle of your local discount store or supermarket.
Cut the Contact Paper slightly larger than the size of your placemat. For instance, if your paper is fourteen inches by eighteen inches, go ahead and make your Contact Paper fifteen by nineteen. Cut two pieces of contact paper for each placemat. Lay the first piece of Contact Paper, sticky side up, on your working surface and carefully center the placemat on it. Then lay the second piece of Contact Paper sticky side down on top of your place mat so the two sticky sides are together with the placemat sandwiched in between them.
Smooth it carefully, starting at the center, so that you don’t end up with bubbles underneath the Contact Paper. Use a plastic spatula to press along the edge of the poster board to make sure you get a nice tight seal all around your placemat. Then you can cut off any excess contact paper around the edges.
These placemats are not only good learning tools, they are also lots of fun to make. You can vary the background colors, or place other decorations underneath the contact paper to make themed placemats for holidays an other special family occasions.
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