A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reinforcing Concepts with Learning Placemats #ReadYourWorld

Although I've chosen to make today's craft China themed, this project can be customized for a wide variety of learning themes.  

As part of Multicultural Children's Book Day, we recently got the opportunity to review the book What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? Life in China's Forbidden City.  This hardcover 102 page book by Chiu Kwon-chiu and Eileen Ng is packed full of fascinating little tidbits about the place that was home to China's leaders for nearly 600 years.  

The Forbidden City today is a very popular tourist attraction in Beijing.  But in it's day, it was home to the Emperor, his wife, his consorts, his concubines, his officials, his slaves (both maids and eunichs) and more.

When I was there in 2010, I was in awe of the architecture and the carvings and furnishings.  It's all slightly overwhelming.

But reading through this book, with it's whimsical illustrations, makes it easier to imagine what life was like for the real people who lived there.

This book helps kids put themselves in someone else's shoes for a little while and think about a very different way of life.

Intended for kids in third grade and up, it held the interest of even my teenagers.  One of my teens picked the book up in the school room and got completely absorbed in it, pausing to ask, "Hey mom, how would you like to be the guy who has to examine the emperor's poop?!"  Um, no thanks!

Our family has a deep love for China and this seemed like a good time to do a fun craft with the kids to celebrate China and reinforce some of the things they know about it.  

contact paper (I used black contact paper for the back and clear for the front)
China themed stickers (I used these and these and these.)
odds & ends for decoration, such as ribbon or ric rac, reproduction coins and glitter
maps or brochures
red envelope

I cut a placemat sized piece of black contact paper (you could also use large construction paper) and peeled the backing off.  Then we sprinkled red and gold glitter.

The map is one that I printed from Super Teacher Worksheets.  We colored in the provinces that I've been to.  Since the map and the envelope were our biggest items, we placed those first to make sure they'd fit.  Then we added stickers, including the Forbidden City, like in our book.  Last of all were the coin and the yellow ric rac boarder at the top and bottom.

After everything was arranged the way we liked it, I covered our placemat with clear contact paper.

It's difficult to photograph a shiny surface, but you get the idea.  The great thing about this craft is that you can take any theme and run with it.  Holidays, dinosaurs, books, countries, science concepts... almost anything can become a theme for a placemat that not only looks cool but also reminds children of what they've learned.  

The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld
Tuttle Publishing * NY Media Works * LLC/KidLit TV

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts (All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Imagination Soup, I’m Not the Nanny, InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Spanish Playground) and you can view them here.  

This post may be linked up at these linky parties.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!


  1. That's so neat! We've made placemats before with poems or verses on them, but never a learning thing like this. I wonder how the contact paper will be with age though... I'm considering getting a laminator.

    1. I have a laminator, but it can only do regular sheets of paper. I think the contact paper will be fine for as long as we want to keep it. We can always make different placemats about new things that we learn to replace it, right? :)

  2. I'd love to see the book. I think that the Forbidden City and that time period in China's history is very interesting. My sister-in-law is Malaysian with Chinese roots, so my we've learned about and read about the country often. :-)

    Thank you for linking up with Favorite Books Friday.

    1. I'm fascinated by all of China! I actually bought a book after reading another of the #readyourworld MCCBD reviews, lol! I'm anxious for it to arrive so I can learn about another facet of such an interesting country.

  3. Looks like a fun craft - especially with Chinese New Year coming up. We used to live in China, and the kids enjoy learning about it. Thanks for joining us at #LMMLinkup

    1. Thanks for hosting! There's some great links there. :) Where in China did you live? My girls are from Jiangsu and Guangxi provinces. I've also been to Beijing, Guangdong, and Jiangxi. I *need* to get to Sha'anxi someday to see the terracotta warriors!

  4. Looks like a fun craft - especially with Chinese New Year coming up. We used to live in China, and the kids enjoy learning about it. Thanks for joining us at #LMMLinkup

  5. This looks like the perfect gift for my son (adopted from China:). Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. We're amassing quite the little library of China books around here! :) I'm so glad we have such neat resources available to us these days. I wonder how many of the Korean adoptees of years past would have done better with similar awareness and inclusion ideas.

  6. Name: BroadBase Media
    Your email address: affiliates@broadbasemedia.com
    Subject: Working together.


    We manage the Affiliate Program for several websites that we think may be a great fit for you and your audience. These sites include www.ergobaby.com, www.orbitbaby.com and www.skyniceland.com. Please let us know if you would have some time to chat, or shoot us an email and we can discuss further.
    Thank you in advance


  7. What a fun craft idea. I like the way you pulled everything together. And thank you for linking up :)

    1. I had seen Valentine placemats earlier, so the concept was fresh in my mind when I thought, "What kind of a hands on activity could we do to go along with this book...?"