Children enjoy setting the table when their own placemats are part of the place setting. It is easy for children to create their own placemats, and only requires a little help from an adult. Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity for a placemat project. Kids and parents alike will get satisfaction from a table decorated with creativity and love.
Gather a variety of colored papers appropriate to the holiday. Scrapbooking paper, construction paper and colored card stock are all good choices. Use a piece of paper the size you want the placemat to be for the base. Let the kids go crazy cutting out hearts. Show the children how to glue the hearts to the paper using only a little bit of glue, as the finished product should be free from lumps. Encourage drawing, as well. Children can use a variety of colorful pens, markers and crayons to decorate the placemats. Don't overlook glitter pens, which will add a fun bit of sparkle to the finished product.
Take the completed placemats to an office supply store and request lamination services. Teacher supply stores also offer this service. At Staples, lamination costs two dollars per square foot. After the placemats have been laminated, cut them out, leaving a ¼ inch border around the children's artwork so that the laminate won't peel apart.
Fleece is an ideal fabric for children to work with, as it is soft and doesn't fray. It is also washable, making it a good choice for placemats. Buy two colors of fleece. Red, pink, purple and white are good colors for Valentine's Day decorations. Cut a 17 inch by 13 inch rectangle out of the color that the kids want to use for the main part of the placement.
Let children draw a large heart on the contrasting piece of fleece. Tailor's chalk works well for drawing on fabric, and is not permanent. The heart should not be larger than the rectangular piece of fleece. Instruct the children to carefully cut out the heart that they have drawn.
Pin the heart to the center of the rectangle. Show the kids how to use a blanket stitch to sew the heart onto the rectangular fabric using a contrasting color of embroidery thread. If the heart is red, try a white or pink thread. If you are not sure how to do a blanket stitch, see the tutorial in the resource section. You may want to teach younger children to do a simple running stitch instead.
After the heart has been sewn on the fabric, show the kids how to cut a ½ inch fringe all the way around the placemat. The result will be a colorful, festive placemat that the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extensive Service assures us can survive the washing machine. Dry on low, and don't iron.