Kid Created Table Cover

You might have noticed in a lot of my food posts that we have very colorful artwork on our dining table.  I've had a few people ask me about this, so I thought I would share it with everyone.  

Our dining room is pretty much the center of our house.  Everything happens here.  Our family dinner every night, along with all our other meals and snacks.  Homework and art projects and cooking projects.  Play dough and painting.  Making cards for loved ones.  Sewing up holes in well loved objects.  Work and play, seriousness and fun. It's definitely the heart of the home for our family.  And so what better to decorate our table than something created by the kids?

This is a project that I love for so many reasons.  I love it because I get to look at my kids creative expression every time I sit down to do something.  I love it because they love doing it, and they love looking at it and talking about it.  I love it because it's easy and cheap.  And the bonus feature: with the plastic cover, it's super easy to clean and totally kid meal friendly. 

We change our table cover with the seasons.  It's a good span of time to be ready to do the project again, and every three months the kids have come up with lots of new ideas. 

What you'll need:

  • a big roll of white butcher paper.  This is the one I have.  
  • some kind of table pad or protective layer (I have this one)
  • art supplies (markets, crayons, paint)
  • kids
  • some kind of clear plastic cover.

I love having a big roll of white butcher paper.  You could probably get less somewhere, but this roll is great for so many things.  Make wrapping paper with paint hand prints.  Or put it down on the floor to trace big outlines of the kids.  Or we draw runways and towns, to play with airplanes and cars.  Or just making a huge drawing on the floor is a great rainy day activity.  So get the big roll

I have a really nice cherry wood table (really the only nice piece of furniture in my home). Some day when my kids are old enough to not be destroying it, we'll uncover and enjoy it's beauty.  But for now I like to protect it.  So I have a padded layer under our art paper to protect the table.  

For the plastic cover you can go to your local fabric store and get a length of clear vinyl. It comes in different weights, and I like something a little on the heavy side so it stays in place better.  Measure the length of your table and get enough for at least 6-8 inches to hang off either end.  Or if you are concerned about the chemicals in the plastic, you can get one of these PVC free clear shower curtain liners and trim the edges off.  It won't be as heavy weight as the vinyl, but should still work fine. 

The art supplies are limited only by your imagination and your tolerance for clean up.  My kids love to paint it.  But sometimes I don't want to clean up the paint so we just do markers.  Whatever you use, it will be great!

That's all you need - now you're ready to go!

Start by putting your pad down.  I wrap mine around the edges of the table and I have it taped underneath to stay on.  Then put your paper down over that, also wrapped around the sides and ends and taped underneath, like a package.  

Then let them have at it.  Sometimes I just let the kids go for it, sometimes I join in too.  This time I joined in and added a few little educational touches.

The younger ones are in pre-k and are working on letters and numbers, so they each have the alphabet and a number line and some shapes.  The older ones have number lines and dots for counting, to help with math homework.  One also has a 10-frame, and the other requested that I give her the alphabet too. The number lines have come in very handy lately with our math homework.  

The kids each decorate their spots, and some extra for mom and dad.  I love that you can get so creative with this, or you can use it as an opportunity to help reinforce something you're working on.  When we were learning how to properly set the table I drew a place setting at each spot and let the kids color that, and it really helped them learn where to put everything when they set the table (a job that even a two year old can do!).  Sometimes I have decorated the kids spots and let them decorate mine - it doesn't get much better than sitting down to dinner with children's love notes under your plate.  

Once it's all decorated and dry, put your clear plastic cover over it.  When mine were littler and messed with the tablecloth more I used to also tape the cover to the underside of the table.  But now I just put it on like a tablecloth and it works just fine.  

Now sit down to your family dinner and let the kids tell you all about their creation.  They will be so proud. 

Give it a try - your whole family will love it!