Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Containing messy play

I never liked just setting my kids free at the kitchen table with paints, playdough, stamps or whatever other current messy play favorite they're into. It invariably gets all over the table, or the playdough falls off and rolls away, or the stamps all fall off the table, or... I didn't want to stifle their creativity and exploration but if I, who am by no means a neat freak, stress out over this I can't imagine how some of the more mess-phobic moms out there cope. The highchair was great for a few years, but now my kids are too big for that too.

My solution?

I repurpose those plastic birthday door signs as craft mats. I started out using them as tablecoths just to protect the table, which worked fairly well, but they tended to slide off (especially when a younger child was involved) and there was still that bouncing playdough thing...

The next logical step was to put the mat right down on the floor. (Mine are tiled so any room that isn't a bedroom works for me (the kids' bedrooms are carpeted), but if you've got carpeting then probably best to stick to the kitchen. ) The messy whatever gets spread out on the mat, giving them plenty of room to play create make a giant mess but it stays contained on the mat. The playdough doesn't even roll away into every corner of the room anymore! Since it's used only for play, I don't care how messy it gets. I just shake it out and put it away until next time. They last forever, too. We're still using one that has to be at least four years old... Not bad for a $4 investment.

This works for me. What works for you?

PS I'm joining in the pre-Hannukah fun over at Ima On and Off the Bima. Come on by and check it out.

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jennwa said...

What a great idea. Thanks.

M said...

Great idea! We use our old train table now as a craft at least keeps the mess on the table because of the lip...Putting a birthday sign on top would make cleanup easier...thanks

Head Gaggler said...

Great idea! Oh and we are doing the Hanukkah Count Down dance at our house too. Cracking out our menorahs and candles. Kids are excited.

Reiza said...

Oh, I like that idea. We've never used those signs, but I definitely need to file that idea away.

We use the back of a Sesame Street play mat. My MIL got it for free when she ordered us a book from some Sesame St. book club. It's designed to use with toys and little cars. It has a Sesame Street scene printed on the front.

We hardly ever used it for its intended purpose, but the back is now covered with paint and markers because we use it to contain crafts.

Alison said...

I love this idea. I will have to get one of those signs (using it for a birthday first, of course!)

Mel said...

We just use a plastic tablecloth on the kichen table - and thankfully the walls wipe clean and the floors are tile - oh and the table is old!!