Woven Paper Place Mats

We are celebrating Thanksgiving with friends this year, but are doing a family Thanksgiving the next day at home. Back in my teaching days, we always had the kids make woven paper place mats for Thanksgiving. I had totally forgotten about that until this week when I saw that my daughter’s preschool class was making place mats. I thought it would be great to make these with the kids at home because it reinforces fine motor skills while creating a beautiful pattern. It’s super easy to make and only requires a few things you probably already have.

You will need:

  • 9 x 12 Construction paper in Fall colors.
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Decide which color you will use for your mat. We picked orange. Fold the paper in half and make five cuts almost to the end. You can see below how I left the end of the paper attached.

Next, you will cut some strips out of the remaining colors of construction paper. Try to get these strips roughly the same size as the lines you cut on the larger piece of construction paper. It doesn’t need to be exact though, so you can just eyeball it. You will want to make sure you don’t cut any strips in the same color as your mat will be. We used 9 x 12 construction paper and found that 6 strips were enough to weave the entire paper.

Demonstrate for the kids how they can weave in an over under fashion. You will start with the first strip under the paper and then pass it over the second cut and under the third and so forth. When your child is done with one strip have them rotate the mat and repeat the process on the other side.

When you are done with a strip make sure you push it to the strip next to it so there will be room for all the strips.

Don’t you just love the concentration as she weaves the paper over and under? Can you see why this is such a great fine motor activity?

The finished product! You can see that the ends stick up a little bit. I used some tape to stick the ends to the construction paper. If you skip this step the strips will move about. You can secure the ends using tape on both sides of the mat.

These place mats were so easy to make and can be customized for any holiday or occasion. They were really quick to make and might be fun for kids to create before Thanksgiving dinner. When I was teaching, we laminated the mats which really made them durable and able to be used again and again. I don’t have access to a laminating machine, but if you do, or want to pay to have them laminated, they would last quite a while.


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