The Thanksgiving holiday is something special, full of great food and even better company. If some of that company includes young children, consider making a set of interactive placemats for some pre-dinner entertainment. By making your own set at home, you can create the prompts and activities according to your liking. You can even customize the placemats depending on the age and personality of each individual child. When your placemats are finished, set them out with a small box of crayons, colored pencils, or markers. This is an awesome way to get your guests involved while decorating for Thanksgiving on a dime.
Time: 30 minutes, depending on quantity made || Cost: $5
Step 1 – Gather the Supplies
Before starting this project, purchase the necessary materials. You might even already have the supplies on hand. Brown kraft paper, which is extremely budget-friendly, can be found in the postage supply section of most stores, as well as in craft stores. This type of paper is sturdy, inexpensive, and ideal for protecting work surfaces. You can find it in a roll or by the sheet. (Use a marker with a thick point to ensure that your text and drawings can be easily seen.) As for the leaf and circular object? These two items will serve as stencils. Any leaf that is still intact works perfectly. Ideas for circular items include jar lids, bottles, and small plates. Take a look around your home for other interesting items that can be traced to serve as drawing spaces on your placemats.
Step 2 – Rip the Paper
Create the placemat base by ripping the paper into a rectangular shape. The finished size is totally up to you. Take into consideration the space of your table and the number of people that will be in attendance. Before each tear, fold the paper and firmly press down on the crease with the ruler. This will sharpen the fold and ensure a better rip. Of course, you can also use scissors or a paper cutter. Otherwise, ripping the paper creates a natural, organic feel that meshes well with traditional Thanksgiving decor. Repeat according to the total number of placemats that you would like to create. If the paper placemats are curling, simply place a few heavy books on top overnight to flatten them out.
Step 3 – Write the Headings
Using the ruler as a guide, write "Name" at the top left corner of the placemat. In the area below, write "I am thankful for" and draw several straight lines. Feel free to use different headings if desired. Phrases such as "What are you thankful for?" or "Things I'm thankful for" also work well.
Step 4 – Trace the Leaf
Place the leaf on the placemat and trace with the marker. Remember, the shape doesn't have to be perfect. Leaves are natural objects, after all. Write "Decorate the leaf" or a similar sentence above the leaf tracing. Children can spruce up the leaf by drawing patterns and pictures. They can even turn the shape into a realistic leaf by drawing natural details.
Step 5 – Trace the Circle Object
In the top right corner, trace the circular object. Again, this can be anything from a jar lid to a small plate. This tracing will represent an empty plate that children can fill in with drawings of their favorite foods. If you'd like, draw utensils and napkins next to the plate to emphasize the theme. This is a great way to get children thinking about their favorite meals and how to recreate them on paper.
Step 6 – Create a Doodling Space
Below the plate, write "Doodle Area" or a similar sentence. This space provides children with freedom to draw and write as they'd like. Alternatively, you can also write additional prompts such as "Draw a turkey" to encourage children to exercise their imagination.