Monday, July 8, 2013

Car Playmat

I love when toys are able to be stored easily.  You show me a toy that comes with its own storage bag/container, I'll want it.  So when I saw some DIY playmats made from either sheets, shower curtain liners or tarps, I knew it was something I wanted to try.

Here are some of the playmats I used for guidance:
*Toy storage mat tutorial from Sawdust Girl

For a long time now Mark has been going to yard sales each weekend to sell things for us for extra cash and has had great luck with selling the pieces to the game Monopoly.  Who would have thought that people would pay more for the houses, game pieces and cards separately than they would pay for the whole game?  Well, people do apparently.  So we have several monopoly boards laying around that are not being used and they were calling my name to do something creative using them.

Combine the desire to make a playmat with the Monopoly boards and you have this car playmat I made.  Before starting this project I scoured the internet looking for ideas for what to include on the playmat and how exactly to go about putting it together.  Should I draw the places and roads?  Should I print logos and glue them onto the boards? Should I only include houses of people we know or should I also include places we go on a regular basis?

Eventually I decided to draw the playmat and include the houses of those close to us and also a few places we frequent.  I was worried Natalie would try to peel off anything I glued to the board and figured drawing was the better of the two ideas.  I also took into consideration that we have several Fisher Price and Littlest Pet Shop playsets that would be cute as add-ons so I included areas where using them would work well.

In the end I included the following places:

*our house
*grandparents' houses
*my sister's house
*close friend's house
*fire station
*Dollar Tree
*a park
*a zoo
*a farm

I had two game boards that I was using and connected the roads between the two so that if Natalie were only using one board it wouldn't be obvious.  I started by sketching the layout onto easel paper cut to the size of the boards (sorry no pic).  Then I drew the layout onto the boards with pencil and went over it with a black sharpie.

By this time I was pretty confident that I was going to like the way this turned out because (in my mind) the hard part of drawing the pictures was done.  Now all I had to do was color!  I colored the houses the favorite colors of those who lived there and our house was Natalie's favorite color, pink  Some of the buildings I colored a light brown and some I colored grey.  In the end, it looked like this...

I debated whether or not to put dotted lines on the roads but decided it helped designate where the roads were as opposed to each landmark.

When trying to find ideas for this project I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures that I saw, but I wished that there were more detailed parts to some of the places.  So, I am going to post close-ups of each picture I drew for those of you who are like me and like to see details and get ideas from the details. :)

First up, the houses...

This is my sister's house.  Her favorite color is turquoise, though you can't really tell because of the blue background (one of the downfalls of coloring on a monopoly board?).

My parents' house.  Their favorite colors are orange and red.  The roofs on all the houses are brown, but, again, it's hard to tell because of the blue background.

This is my in-law's house.  It's supposed to be yellow with a purple door. :)  You may have noticed that there's not much diversity in the house style of this little neighborhood.  It's the only way I know to draw a house, so they're pretty much the same.  This is another reason I tried to color them the favorite colors because Natalie knows all their favorite colors and would, therefore, know whose house is whose (since she's only 3 and can't read yet).
This is the house of Natalie's best buddies, Landon and Kaiden.  Their favorite colors are blue and red (obviously).  Not sure why they have a demented slide in their yard.  I guess I got tired of drawing trees? LOL I tried to personalize their house (besides the slide) with the curved window above their door since they have one at their real house.

The final house is our house.  It's Natalie's favorite color, pink.  I made it centrally located so it's easy for her to find.

Up next are the stores--Target and Dollar Tree.  These are two stores Natalie recognizes so I made sure to include them.

Next are the public service buildings, the hospital and the fire station (The fire station picture came out blurry but is basically a rectangle with "Fire Station" written on it).

And finally are some areas I thought would be fun to play with using some other playsets she already has.

She can put her Fisher Price barn near the playmat next to the farm...

Her Fisher Price Zoo Talker toy can go near the zoo part of the mat.  In addition she can place her plastic zoo animals in the grassy areas on the mat...

Finally, she has a Littlest Pet Shops playground that can go near the park...

I also drew a pond with some ducks to take up some space in one area of the playmat.  Maybe she could use her doll house to put near that part of the mat.

Since she saw me working on it she couldn't wait to have a chance to play with it.  I'm really happy with the way it turned out and I love that it folds up easily and travels well.

I highly encourage anyone interested in making one to try it.  If you don't feel your drawing skills are up to par (mine look like a 10 year old drew them!), you can print pictures of your houses and/or the stores/landmarks then glue them to your playmat.  There are so many different ways to do this project, and your kid(s) will love it!  If you do make one, be sure to share a picture or link in the comments!

Thanks for reading!



  1. That is awesome! Love the idea of using old game boards.

  2. clever clever! I love it! So cute! Thanks for the link too :)