Teach children how to set the dinner table with a placemat that puts everything in the correct position. Use creating the placemat as part of the learning experience. The placemats can then be used until the child feels comfortable with the placement of everything on the table.
Materials for a Child’s Placemat
Parents will need to supply the following items to make the placemat:
● Each placemat requires a 12” x 18” piece of colored construction paper
● Black marker
● Dinner plate, fork, spoon, knife, and cup to trace (bread plate, if used)
● Art supplies to decorate the placemats
● Clear contact paper
Make a Teaching Placemat
- Start with a 12” x 18” piece of construction paper for each placemat. For a fancier placemat, that will take more time to create, cut up two sheets of large construction paper and weave a placemat.
- Set the dinner plate in the center of the paper and trace with the pencil.
- Place the table knife on the right hand side of the plate, with the blade turned toward the plate. Trace.
- Set the spoon beside the knife and trace. Children shouldn’t worry about the shapes looking like a spoon or fork, the goal is to create an outline that helps kids remember where to set everything. Even a bad outline of a spoon won’t look like a fork!
- The fork goes on the left side of the plate. If desired, trace a salad fork to the far side of the dinner fork.
- Place the glass above the knife and trace.
- Trace over the pencil lines with the marker so the shapes stand out clearly.
- Decorate the placemat with cut paper shapes, stickers, or rubber stamp prints.
- Cover both sides of the paper with a sheet of clear contact paper, extending a half inch around the paper, which will better seal the paper. Trim the edges of the contact paper so they are straight.
- Make a placemat for each family member, using colors and decorations that person will enjoy.
- Use a damp sponge to clean the placemats after each use.
Children can also make placemats for a holiday or birthday, decorating them with appropriate designs and creating coordinating place cards to let everyone know where they should sit. Children can use the process of making the placemats to familiarize themselves with how to set the table.
They can use the mats as long as necessary to help them to remember where everything goes. When kids get the knack of setting the table, give them the challenge of folding cloth napkins to add some fun and elegance to dinner.