DIY Play Tablecloth

I usually plan one particular big-ish activity each school holidays for when we are at home.  I don’t tell the kids what I’m planning, nor do I make a big deal of it. In some ways it’s more for me than it is for them! Ha! It helps to be prepared sometimes, and it’s very handy to have something fun in the cupboard, waiting for an opportune moment.  In my experience, I find certain activities need to happen at the right time for it to be fun for everyone (and not too stressful for mum!). 

Below are some of the other projects we’ve done over the years.

Op Shop Cubby

Balloon & Paint Canvas

School Holiday Kit

Snow Table Scene

Dollhouse Style Box Cubby House

Play Tablecloth

This school holidays, I decided to make a play tablecloth with an old sheet that was damaged. It’s so easy (and cheap) to make. The idea popped into my head when I was washing the sheets recently and noticed a big hole in one of them.  You can find cheap old sheets at thrift shops that would be perfect for this little project too.

As I was saying before, I prepared this a while ago. I purchased a few extra permanent markers to replenish our stock and kept the damaged sheet in a corner of the cupboard.   After a lazy morning at home, I suggested to the kids that we all create a play city and it all came together effortlessly and easily.  The kids actually did all of it themselves and I just watched.

The part I love most about this sort of activity is it sparks the children’s imagination and opens up many creative play opportunities.  The children drew the roads, added clear homes (using the containers fruit sometimes comes in), included toys and created items for inside their respective homes with Lego.  They seemed to really enjoyed playing at the table level too.  They were at it for hours! Hours I tell you!

Materials Used

Light coloured top sheet (if you don’t have an old one to dedicate to play, you can usually pick up a very cheap one at a thrift shop)

Permanent markers (or fabric markers)

Velcro dots (for cubby door)

How to

1.  Protect Table (if needed)

Put newspaper down to protect the table.  This is only for the drawing side of things. I didn’t do this because I have a dedicated portable craft table so don’t have to worry about transfer of the permanent markers through the sheet on to the table. 

2.  Put sheet on

Place sheet over the table so there is even hang on every side.

3. Draw

Draw in roads and other details.  It can be as simple as just a road or as detailed as possible. Below are some ideas:

  • Homes
  • Bushes
  • Grass
  • Ponds
  • Trees
  • Birds
  • Walking path
  • Bike path
  • Fruit market
  • Car park
  • Farm
  • Flowers
  • Fountain
  • Houses
  • Playground
  • Highrise buildings

DIY Play Tablecloth

DIY Play Tablecloth

DIY Play Tablecloth

4.  Add Stuff

Add toys and other recycled materials.  My kids raided the recycling bin and added small figurines and Lego.

Box Tunnel (Tip: to keep boxes from falling over, use a few rocks in the base)

play tablecloth

It turns out these Clear Homes (made from fruit packets) are the best! The kids love seeing the stuff they put inside. Who would have thought!

play tablecloth

play with recycled materials

Box garages

play tablecloth

Lego signs

Lego cross roads

This sort of activity engages all three of my younger children together (my teen is past this stuff now – boo hoo). The good thing is they can decorate their own spaces/homes the way they like.

5. Make it a cubby

I took this a step further and cut two slits in one side to make a door and a cubby underneath the table.  Mine is very….um…rustic looking (I just hacked one side with scissors) but the kids didn’t care.  I used velcro stickers to keep the door up and some floor cushions underneath. 

Play table cloth

Play table cloth

Play table cloth

6. Put away

Once finished, just fold the sheet up, put it in the cupboard and use again and again.

DIY Play Tablecloth (made from an old sheet)

DIY Play Tablecloth

I supervised/helped with this set up for about 10 minteus and then let the kids at it. They were at it happily for over 2 hours! Good investment: that 10 minutes.

Pin for Later

You can repin this idea for later here.


Cardboard Box City

Paver Roads

Wood Roads

Small Worlds

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  • Reply
    July 9, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Perfect! That investment has a great return xx

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Yep. Sometimes I find it pays to take that bit of time to set something up.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I like the idea of using fabric. I’ve used cardboard before and also chalk on the concrete downstairs, but it is hard to keep the cardboard and the chalk is messy. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      We’ve done cardboard before too and it was a great hit…but this has been fabulous in that it’s not away neatly in the cupboard and I can pull it again again another day.

  • Reply
    Kate @ One Small Life
    July 12, 2014 at 9:24 am

    My kids saw me looking at this post (busted!) and wanted to do this IMMEDIATELY!

    Unfortunately I didn’t have an old sheet they could draw on and cut up, but they were equally satisfied with building a town on a sheet draped over the dining table – they used found objects, boxes, tubes etc and their collection of cars and dolls and had a great time.

    Then they collected all the cushions in the house and played “moles” by making a cubby beneath the city.

    This activity has engaged them so much that they’ve left it up and returned to their town for three days running now. It’s been absolutely super. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      July 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Haha. Best. I’m glad they had a ball. They are obviously creative kids who can create their own fun! Next time you’re near an op shop, you could always pop in and see if they have an old sheet for the next lot of school holidays.

      • Reply
        Kate @ One Small Life
        July 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

        Another great idea! Will do. Or alternatively a great excuse to upgrade my own linen and let the kids have at the old stuff (I love new sheets!)

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