Kid Craft: Thanksgiving Placemats
If you have been following my articles here at P&K, you might know by now that I do not like children’s crafts to look like something only a mother (or grandmother) could appreciate. As usual, in order to accomplish such a look, a young child does need some help from adults or older siblings, but the older people should NOT do the work, only help.
This month we will be making woven placemats. I will be giving directions for two variations. One is made with construction paper, and the other with ribbon. The technique will be almost the same, but the ribbon version should be more durable (it of course will also cost more).
Glue, glue stick, glue dots, or hot glue (with a lot of supervision)
Ruler (18” if possible) or yardstick. (These are usually 1” wide and perfect for this project)
Clear Contact Paper
12”x18” Construction Paper (two per placemat plus extras) in Fall colors
Ribbon: 1” wide: (six yards total per placemat) in Fall Colors (plus a little extra, of course)
1. Lay the ruler along the short (9”) edge of the paper and draw a line so you have a 1” base. (Do the same thing for each placemat you intend to make.) Older children can easily do these preliminary steps.
2. Place the ruler against the long edge of the page, and align the end of the ruler with the line you just drew across the short end of the paper. Draw a line along the edge of the ruler.
3. Place the edge of the ruler against the line you just drew and the end against the line at the short end of the paper. Again, draw a line against the side of the ruler.
4. Repeat step (3) across the width of the paper. It is very important that these steps are done carefully, since this is the base of your placemat.
5. Cut along the long lines, very carefully, and STOP at the line at the short end. (You may even want to tape along that line to reinforce it.)
6. With a page for each placemat, draw lines, as you did in steps 2, 3, and 4, EXCEPT do it going the short way.
7. Cut these pieces completely apart. These will be the pieces you weave with.
1. For each placemat, cut nine 12” pieces of ribbon, and eighteen 9” pieces.
2. Lay one of the 9” pieces flat on a clean work space.
3. Place the 12” pieces side by side on the nine inch piece until you are happy with the color arrangement.
4. Once you have them as you like them, glue them in place and allow to dry or set as long as possible before going on to the next step.
(for both paper and ribbon):
At this point, you should have a base with nine streamers, either of paper or ribbon for every placemat, and a pile of 9” pieces with which to weave.
1. Place the base flat on your work surface with the streamers also flat. The streamers should be facing the hand with which you will weave (right-handed or left-handed).
2. Take your first “weaver” and place it over your first “streamer.” The weaver goes under the next streamer, over the next, and so forth. When you get to the end, check your work: you should have a one row checkerboard. Make sure the streamers are still nice and straight and the weaver is tight against the base. Put dots of glue on AT LEAST the two outside “checkerboard” squares. I suggest if you aren’t using a fast-drying glue, you put the first placemat aside, work on the next, and so on until the first one has time to dry.
3. For the next row, put the weaver UNDER the first streamer. (the opposite of the last row.) Go over and under as before. Again, secure with glue.
4. Continue with steps 2 and 3 until you reach the end of the streamers. You should have woven seventeen streamers. Check at the end of each row to be sure you went over and under correctly, and have maintained the checkerboard.
5. If at this point you want to make your placemats fancier, you can add stickers, cut-out pictures, or other very flat trim items.
6. The last step is to cover the placemat with Contact paper. Cut the Contact paper to about 13”x19” and remove the backing. Place it sticky-side up on the work surface. Center the placemat above the Contact paper and place it carefully on the paper. (This is easier if done with two adults or older children working together.) Turn it over. But not over paper, because you don’t want it to stick around the edges. Work out any bubbles to make it smooth. Put the back on in the same way. The edges should stick together to make it completely waterproof. You may have to trim the edges to make them perfect.
These will take some work, but you and your children will have a beautiful project. You may want to divide the activity into a couple of sessions. It is also one you can duplicate in other colors for other holidays.
Sherryl LaPointe, a retired teacher and children’s minister, lives with her husband, Harris, and dog, Muffin, in Gulfport. They enjoy frequent visits from their daughter, Linette. Sherryl enjoys pursuing many hobbies including crafts, art and writing.