September 19, 2012

A felt mat and an unexpected geography lesson

Who knew that making a felt play mat would lead me deeply into the world of the Artic, Antartica and the animals that live there? 

Let me share some facts.

The Artic is a sea, surrounded by pieces of land and it is in the Northern hemisphere. Antartica in contrast, is a piece of land, surrounded by sea in the Southern hemisphere. Animals found in the Artic include the polar bear, the Artic fox, seals, walrusses, the very interesting narwal whale, the snowy owl and reindeer (caribou). Penguins are found in Antartica... here in South Africa too :)... but they are not naturally found in the Northern hemisphere.  

So with this in mind, can you tell what's wrong with that top picture? Polar bears and penguins together are a no-no!

As for those orcas (killer whales), they are found in the southern and northern seas. What I actually had in mind, putting them so close to the shore line, were the orcas of Peninsula Valdes, on the coast of Argentina. These particular orcas almost beach themselves to catch seals on the shore line and it's the only place in the world where orcas hunt in this way. If you want to see more, some amazing footage is available on You Tube.

Anyway, back to my mat. As you can now tell, I have not only mixed up the 'Artics', I went and threw in some (non-icy) Argentinian coast line too. (I write this smiling sheepishly) Geography in high school? No, I did History. Having said that, this is a great example of how one learns by making mistakes. (Well, that's my positive spin on it anyway). I also shared all my mistakes with the kiddos, so hopefully they will remember some of these rather important details.

Now onto the how-tos: To make the mat, cut two biggish pieces of felt, white and blue, and either sew or glue them together. I used my good friend the glue gun - the glue dries instantly, which is the best part for me  - I'm impatient that way. 

I added a picture to show you how I cut and glued the caves. I first glued the sides of the cave and then folded and glued the back part of it. 

To make the igloo, I used a plastic ball (those that you find in ball ponds) and firstly cut the top third of the ball off with a cutting knife (be extra careful when doing this). I then cut out the door with a strong pair of scissors (a kitchen one). To finish off, paint it white and glue on some felt squares. Sweet hey? I must just add that I also painted the inside white, but only after this photograph was taken.

We have quite a nice collection of realistic looking plastic animals, but unfortunately didn't have any polar bears. I really wanted some to add to this mat, so I purchased some black bears (from a local plastic shop), painted them with white acrylic paint and then added the eyes and nose details with a permanent black marker. I thought they turned out quite nicely.

And lastly to add some extra interest to the mat, I covered some white polystyrene pieces with white felt too. These pieces were cut from a nice deep dish that some strawberries had come in. You really don't have to cover them; you could just use as is. By stacking them, it provides some extra places for the animals to walk under or over.

I do hope that you like my (not the Artic/not the Antartic) icy felt mat. Have you ever made a felt mat? Let me know, I'd love to come and see. Till next time, happy playing.

PS. This mat was inspired by the awesome mats at Shady Tree Diary.  

PPS. Shared at It's Playtime.


Unknown said...

What fun!!! I love your geography lesson :) and those polar bears look terrific!

km said...

I love it!!! I've never made a felt play-mat but NOW it is at the top of my to-do list! Your projects always have the most incredibly sweet details. that igloo!!!! oh my! and thank you for the mini geography lesson... :):)!!!

Joyfulmama said...

Oh how fun!! Noah was sitting on my lap as I read there's no way out - I am going to have to make him one, too. (He LOVES the polar bears!!)Such creative ideas! Thanks so much for sharing this!!

Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

I had lost your blog from my reader but so glad I found it again - spent today making a "playmat" of sorts and gathering ideas for more. Made a frog pond '5 Little Speckled Frogs" mini playscape on the old train table

Guess what was next on my list to make (using my little girls Schliech animal collection) - yep - the Arctic mat...although I am sure I would have bung them all in together also

Will get around to posting my (whoops the KIDS) frogpond in the next few days

and the snow animals one when I get another spare day to play

Thanks off to catch up on all the posts I have missed of late

Love and Lollipops said...

Thank you all for these lovely comments! So glad you enjoyed this post and feel inspired to make those mats. So happy you found me again Michele :) - I have just popped over to your side of the world - love your playscape!

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