How to Make Changing-Shapes Place Mats

Make meals more fun with these math mats kids create.



 How to Make Changing-Shapes Place Mats

What you need:

  • several sheets of colored construction paper 
  • clear contact paper 
  • Velcro tape (adhesive back) 
  • adult-type scissors 
  • markers, crayons, or colored chalk 

What to do:

  1. Invite your child to choose several colors of construction paper. From these, cut out squares, triangles, rectangles, and circles. Name each shape as you cut it out. Make two or three of each shape in different colors.
  2. Ask your toddler to choose a sheet of construction paper that will be used as the base of the place mat. Provide her with magic markers, crayons, or colored chalk. Encourage her to draw on the large sheet of construction paper. Talk with her about the kinds of marks she is drawing. Use clear contact paper to completely cover both sides of the drawing.
  3. Place several different shapes on the table and ask your child to "decorate" them. Continue to engage her in conversations that describe what you both are doing: "Your blue circle has yellow lines, and my green triangle has blue dots." Mark each shape with its name.
  4. Next, spread out a sheet of contact paper on the table. Ask your toddler to place the shapes onto the "sticky paper." When she has finished, place another sheet of contact paper on top of the shapes. Cut out each individual shape. Ask: "Can you find the squares? triangles? circles?" Assist her in naming the colors and finding colors that match.
  5. Cut several small pieces of Velcro tape. Encourage your toddler to help you attach the Velcro to the backs of the individual shapes. Attach Velcro pieces to the top of the large drawing that has been covered with clear contact paper. Show your child how the shapes will attach to the Velcro on the top of the place mat. She will enjoy using her place mat at mealtimes.

Learning benefits:

  • develops fine-motor coordination 
  • encourages recognition of simple geometric shapes 
  • supports distinguishing colors 
  • builds vocabulary 
  • develops early math concepts

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