Emmet has been playing with his cars pretty consistently for over a year now. Racing them all over the house, off tables, under couches, and I've been meaning to find him the perfect play mat to drive them on for quite some time. A spot that had just enough of a concept for him to add a new layer of play to his cars (i.e. roads) but was still very open to creativity. I found a lot of different mats, most were super tacky and awful colors and the ones I loved were way to expensive. So I decided to make my own! And as soon as I had a mat planned out to make I began dreaming up trees, street signs, and more to go with it! I thought I would share DIY's for how to make the mat and the trees seen here. I'm sure I'll make and share more for his city some day!
Wooden Spheres (large, medium, small)
1/4 inch Dowels (cut to 2-2.5 inches)
Wooden Tree Bases
Drill and 1/4 inch Drill Bit
1. Use your 1/4 inch drill bit to drill a whole in each sphere and cone about 1/2 inch deep (as straight as possible).
2. Paint each sphere/cone 1/2 at a time, allowing the other half to dry before turning it over, at least two coats
3. Paint on a layer of mod podge on top of each painted sphere.
4. Apply wood glue into each hole on the wooden bases and press one side of a wooden dowel into each.
5. Once dry, apply glue into the wholes of each sphere and cone and glue them onto each tree base.
Faux Leather (I bought 1 yard)
1. Trim off the selvedge on the sides of the leather and round the corners
2. Plan and sketch your "map" - I decided to make mine loosely based on our neighborhood so I looked at google maps as I drew. I chose to have a track that went all the way around the outside, and then have streets fill the inside that are almost the same as the streets in our neighborhood.
3. Using a yard stick or ruler as a straight edge start drawing on your streets, making them at least 4-5inches wide (or measure your child's cars and make them slightly larger than their cars) and be careful to leave openings where one street meets another. Check in with your sketch often!
4. Add in little details! Add texture, like stripes, dots, grass, etc in the open spaces. Or add buildings, street lights, people, trees, the options are endless! I chose to leave ours fairly plain so that that could be added on top with blocks, etc.
Once they were both done I rolled it out on his floor and set up a few houses and trees. I showed him the roads explained that the roads were for driving on, just like how we see cars drive on the road when we are on our walks. And then I let him play. Sometimes it is hard to tell how much to help with play and how much to just let him explore. So far I have found though that if I give him just enough to get him started (or sometimes to redirect) his little imagination will do the rest.