DIY Play Mat By Jaclyn Ryan
Today we welcome guest blogger, Jaclyn Ryan, and her two children. This creative bunch loved to take inspiration from everyday items and their favorite toys and combine them with activities for the whole family to enjoy. Jaclyn has an extensive background education, with a knack for engaging children through play.
Did you know that babies and toddlers are natural explorers who learn completely by doing?
They do this through free play. Play gives them a great opportunity to develop and practice new skills at their own pace, and the toys that children have available can shape their development in important ways.
With the ever expanding array of toys that have been developed for children, it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are best and which ones will spark the most play. As parents, we all have had the experience of buying a toy that a child plays with for two days and never touches again.
A great way to counteract this issue is by choosing well-made, high-quality toys that spark imaginative play and that can be fun at different developmental stages. These racers from Plan Toys happen to be a great example of that.
The Duck, Chicken, and Bunny racers have a gently curved shape that is clearly designed for even the smallest of hands, making it easy for babies and toddlers to hold and push. As an added bonus, they also appeal to older children - at least in our case - as was evidenced by watching my older children race them all around the house!
Open-ended toys like these are great for play, and to add to the fun, we made a craft to go along with them!
When thinking of a craft to go along with these adorable racers, a DIY play mat seemed like the most logical - and fun, option! For children, play mats are great because they encourage pretend play. With a DIY play mat, children can exercise their creativity to literally design their own play!
When constructing our DIY play mat, we decided to make a “pumpkin patch” theme, but keep our design simple for ease of use. We started by making a long road out of craft paper, added some lines and pumpkins, and added a start and a finish line. We also incorporated a little bit of fall color into our design. Read on to see how you can make your own DIY play mat, too!
- PlanToys Racers
- Large roll of paper
- Masking tape
- Crayons, markers, paint sticks
- Cardboard for start and finish sign (optional)
Gather your materials. A large roll of craft paper works well for this type of craft, which we happened to have on hand. You can also tape two lengths of easel paper or poster board together, or just use a big piece of cardboard.
You will also want to tape the paper down to the floor using masking tape so that it remains in one place both while you’re designing your play mat and while the kids are playing on it!
Make your design. We chose paint sticks and pastel crayons so that the colors would be bright and cheerful, but you can use anything you have on hand.
Grab some cardboard and cut out a rectangular shape. You can use this as your START and FINISH line for your racers. Use your imagination and have fun with it!
Test your play mat! Grab your kids, and your racers, and see who can make it down to the finish line first! Have fun with it and see what ideas and variations of play your kids can come up with.
We had such a blast with these toys - all four of my usually competitive kids were giggling away watching the chicken, duck, and bunny get “distracted” and veer off the road over and over again!
Making your own DIY play mat is a great way to introduce kids to the magic of pretend play, design and problem solving. It is also an easy way to encourage children to develop their fine and gross motor skills. I hope that we have inspired you and your creative kids to make your own DIY play mat. It truly is a great activity and practice that can be expanded upon and used again and again!
Ready, set, race! Below is a selection of other PlanToys that can be combined with this activity.
|Racing Cars - 12M+
|3 Colors Available
|PlanWorld Cars - 3Yrs+
|Trains - 3Yrs+