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Sunday, April 1, 2012

14 Ways to Create Learning Experiences for Children with Plastic Tablecloths

From my experiences from teaching Little People, I have gleaned several basic Facts of LittlePeoplehood.  One of them is Little People + Dowels = Poking, and who needs poking?

 Another is Crepe Paper (or Tissue Paper) + Water = Big Mess.  As much as I love the wide availability and low cost of both of these materials, I don't like it when our projects made with these materials fade and "melt" when they get wet.

While pondering new and better materials to use for a recent project that called for tissue/crepe paper, I suddenly thought of plastic tablecloths.

For just a dollar at the dollar store (and just a little more elsewhere), you can buy 54" x 108" of this material in a whole rainbow of colors.  They are easy to cut, easy to manipulate and easy to replace.

Since this revelation,  I have used plastic tablecloths to make several different projects with the Little People, and all things considered, I think they are wonderful.

There are a few things you need to know about using them, however:

1)They are very easy to cut.  You can use scissors, although my favorite method is to use my paper cutter.  You can easily fold the whole table cloth up into a few folds and easily cut a whole bunch at one time.

However, when you cut many layers at once, the cutting tends to "seal" the layers together.  For example, the strips below that look like big, thick single strands are actually five or six layers with the edge pressed/sealed together.

 I have found that the best way to separate the layers is to rub the combined edges of the layers against something rough, such as the carpet, or even a scratchy cleaning sponge.   This will separate the layers enough to begin pulling them apart.

2) Another thing you need to know is that the strips of plastic are easy to tape onto objects with regular masking tape. To make streamers or fringe for a project, I will usually wrap masking tape sticky-side-up around something and just place the streamers where I want them.  Then I pull off the tape and put in on the desired place.

However, if you aren't careful, any loose edges will also adhere to the masking tape.  And while they stick very easily to the tape, it's not as easy to get them off.   In fact, if you try to pull them off, they usually will just stretch and break.  The answer I have found to this is to align the plastic pieces on the tape just before you tape them onto your object.  Definitely do not align them at home, and then say, drive them around in the backseat of your car tumbled up with many other preschool objects.  Because then they will look like the picture below, which is a complete unfixable mess:

Also, you definitely want to use tapes and regular glues to adhere the strips to your project, and not hot glue.  As I'm sure you already know, hot glue melts plastic, and will leave your wonderful streamers un-adhered and basically just melted down into globs.  Colorful globs, but globs nonetheless.

3) While the strips are very thin and move wonderfully in the wind, they also tend to stretch and break when pulled on.  However, so do tissue and crepe paper (well, they don't stretch so much, but they do break).  And, as with tissue and crepe paper, the plastic tablecloth material is cheap and easy to replace.  Plus, it doesn't bleed, doesn't fade as quickly in the sun, and is just fun and pretty to work with.

Now that you have some hints and suggestions about working with plastic tablecloths, here are some things you can make with it:

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic! I just found your blog via Pinterest and love all your great ideas! I can't wait to put them to practice with my daughter and in our church preschool class on Sundays.