My 4-year-old grandson is into dinosaurs, a pretty common love of this age group. He’s got dinosaurs and he’s got books about dinosaurs. So I decided to make a play mat for him.
Play mats should be simple affairs, although I see an awful lot of people making them more detailed than they need to be. You see, kids have tremendous imaginations that don’t need much stimulation… mainly just the dinosaurs!
It’s a good size – 30 x 40 inches – and yep, it’s one-dimensional. Here’s why.
- The basics of the dinosaur world are all there – land, water, volcano, rocks, room to maneuver. The child’s imagination does the rest.
- The mat folds and rolls up for easy, easy storage. The rocks aren’t lumpy; the water isn’t joined by a bridge (I don’t think there were bridges in dinosaur land…), meaning the dinosaurs won’t fall over at the slightest touch.
- There are no upright, loose props to get misplaced, roll under the sofa, or get lost in the toy box.
I did take the time to make the mat sturdy and washable.
- I didn’t hem the edges; instead I folded the cloth over once only and sewed seam binding over the raw edges on the back side – the mat then lies flat right to the edges without curling up. Here’s the front and the back. You can see the two lines of stitching on the front.
- I stitched all the scene pieces with a large 3-stitch zigzag, going just beyond the edges to reduce ravelling.
I didn’t worry too much about which fabrics I chose – they’re all from my huge inventory of leftovers over the years.
Here’s the mat all rolled up for storage.
There are all manner of playmat scenes to make and I hope to make a few. They’re simple to construct and they provide the perfect base for a child to dream.