Pretty much, I took a great idea (from here on Sew Mama Sew) and then jammed it with as much teaching, skills building, thought provoking, game providing, hours wasting, activities as I could. Of course, I did think I would just make one for my own girls, but after all the planning and how excited I was, I figured it would also make great Christmas presents for two other families who both have young boys. Then, I just made three of every square at a time. Sometimes mass production is a really good thing.
I wasn't sure how in depth to go with this post and telling you all about it, but to be perfectly honest, I'm really proud of my work and I feel it would be pretty sad if it didn't get a show. I've taken plenty of photos though, so hopefully the visual literacy will keep you interested.
So you've already seen the Bee and the Flowers, and know what it's supposed to be about. I suppose this is a good a time as any to mention that I worked very hard to just use fabric I had in my stash rather than go out for more. It's good to realise that I've got a lot of fabric and that I can actually use it up! These squares were perfect for using up little and big scraps. It also meant that each finished mat ended up with it's own personality, or quirky difference based on what I had on had. Win!
This square is pretty basic, I just stitched the words on the different colours. The idea is to send the kids off to find some nature thing that matches each colour. Also, you can talk about what colours things are in the natural world around us. And why. So good.
Another kind of colours based one is this rainbow ribbons square. Pretty self explanatory. I would have liked to have three strands of each colour for better braiding purposes, but I figure the kids can work something out anyway. Also, there is a hidden surprise on this square that I'll talk about later.
These two squares really show off the scrap usage. The first one is all about shapes (duh) and the second is an eye spy. I'm not sure how much depth I need to go into to talking about what the squares can do. I mean, is it obvious that you can do shape recognition and then talk about what shapes you can see in nature? That you can play eye spy on the square and then talk about animals in nature? I don't know. These things are pretty obvious to me, but I'm a weird teacher who sees learning in everything...
These leaves are for kids to go out and find ones that match the shapes. Pretty fun, though that middle leaf is actually an Oak leaf, so I'm not sure they'll find one in Australia, but it will keep them amused for some time trying to find one right? He he he. So evil.
This square is pretty sensory. All of the different fabrics have a different texture and feel to them. It's not so much for the older kids, but the younger ones will probably like it. Though the extension activity could easily be talking about different textures in actual nature. Also using imagination to talk about what the sun or the clouds might feel like. Then having a lesson on the solar system, or the water cycle. Oh the endless possibilities.
These trees are a simple puzzle/fine motor skill activity in having to pull the leaves off and snap them back on. They are scraps of fabric stitched to felt for strength. I blanket stitched like crazy on these just for fun.
This dog face is another snaps one (actually, thanks to Jenny J of Sweet Sweet Bird for lending me her snaps to make these possible. Snaps yo!) but it's also more of a puzzle in getting the features in the right places. I'll take this chance to let you know if you were worried about those pieces getting lost, I also installed a handy velcro pocket on the back of the dog (and the tree) so that the pieces could be stored for travel or washing or whatever. Hopefully this will prevent them getting lost too soon.
The same velcro pocket is on the rainbow ribbons square and opens to reveal a little pouch with coloured beads inside.
Now the kids can practice some more fine motor skills by threading the beads onto the right colours of the rainbow! Is it more than you could have ever imagined? Probably.
The girls mat is backed in some boring calico and once I was done with it, I thought about making noughts and crosses pieces as another extension activity, but maybe later. Neither of my girls have the mental capacity for that kind of intense gaming just yet.
Sophie was pretty excited to have a mat that she could actually play with this morning (after having already given the other two to their recipients she was happy to know this one was not leaving the house).
Rachel was excited about eating things.
The adventure of these Activity Mats began back here in June and were posted about in irregular and illusive detail here, here (The Bee and the Flowers), here and here. Just in case you're interested.