A DIY play mat for kids that’s easy to make with quick-drying paint sticks. Kids can play with this activity mat with toys at home.
Updated February 2022
A big thanks to Kwik Stix paint sticks for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
Play mats are great because they encourage pretend play. But most aren’t cheap and since the designs are static, the pretend play can be a bit more limited. And kids can get bored with them after a while.
We have a better idea: let your kids make their DIY play mats.
They’ll be doubly creative. Creative as they make the play mat and creative as they play with it.
And it’s not difficult; all you need are simple art materials and an imagination.
Plus, your kids will be able to create a mat that suits their play right now and that can even evolve with their play.
Are they into airplanes? They can draw or paint a runway and hangar onto their mat.
Do they realize they need a pond for the animals to drink from? They can add it and then continue their play.
How about a paddock for their horses? It’s easy to draw one as soon as they realize it’s needed.
Do they want another road? A bridge, fence, river, hay, beds, a forest?
Anything can be added as part of their play and as a continuation of their play.
And then the play mat can be kept and used (and added to) as long as the children are interested. Or they can start fresh and make a new one when they are ready.
We made our own play mat during our children’s art group last week and the kids LOVED it.
Here’s how we made ours and how you can make one too.
DIY Play Mat for Kids
*We used white art paper from a big roll we had on hand. Other options including taping two lengths of easel paper together, using a roll of brown contractor’s paper (inexpensive in the painting section of the hardware store) or bulletin board paper, taping together a couple of large poster boards, or using a big piece of cardboard.
- Tape paper down
This will hold it in place as you work and play.
- Draw roads and whatever else you’d like on your mat
Use the paint sticks to draw roads, rivers, lakes, mountains, bridges, meadows, runways. Whatever suits your play and vision right now.
- Add cars, figurines, and houses
Get out a few basic open-ended toys on the mat. Some ideas include toy cars, boats, or airplanes and animal and people figurines.
You may also want to build some 3-D structures such as houses, garages, barns, bridges, fences, trees, etc. For those you can use magnet tiles as we did, building blocks, or LEGOs.
Play with your new play mat!
Continue to add details during play as desired.
Need a bridge over the water? Add it. Need a connecting road? Draw it! Need food or beds for your animals? Simply add them as you play.
Want some Kwik Stix paint sticks to make your own play mat?
They are great for working big and bold, plus the best thing of all for these play mats is that they dry almost instantaneously. Within 90 seconds the marks are smudge free, so you can draw a lake and then play out a scene with your toy boat and animals right away.
More Creative Play Ideas for Kids
- Craft Ideas for Kids that are Perfect for Pretend Play
- How to Make a Cardboard Castle for Hours of Pretend Play
- 5 Easy DIY Cardboard Toys You Can Make with Your Kids
- Light Table Activities: 10+ Free and Low-Cost Ideas for Kids
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Thanks again to Kwik Stix for sponsoring this post and for sending us paint sticks to use and review! As always, all opinions expressed are my own.