Play mats

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/plays-mats/article8020403.ece

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Keeping kids occupied at mealtimes just got a tad easier thanks to these activity placemats

Restaurants often offer puzzle placemats to keep diners occupied while waiting for their order. Spot-the-difference puzzles, word games and number challenges serve as appetisers until the real food arrives. Now, entrepreneurs are creating interesting placemats that can keep the little ’uns occupied at the dining table at home as well.

My Mumbai (Rs 500) is a set of eight colouring placemats that introduces Maximum City to children. Perfect for children aged four and above, the black-and-white posters by Yellow Pinwheel Kids Project offer a slice of Mumbai’s life. In one of the placemats, commuters are seen wending their way around the city, passing through the sea link, boarding a local train, and hopping on board a BEST bus. Another one is crammed with the city’s people — street vendors frying vadas for vada pao, Bollywood actors, Koli fisherfolks, paan wallahs, and of course, the dabba wallas. And the third is a glimpse into festivities. The illustrations are done by Abhishek Panchal, who founded Bombay Pencil Jammers.

The placemats encourage children to explore their city with the help of trivia pull-outs. Young explorers will engage with Mumbai’s architecture, the diverse cross-section of its people, and understand its geography. There’s a DIY map of Mumbai, which children have to draw themselves — the map starts at Gateway of India and ends at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali. “My Mumbai is targeted for an age group of four to 10. It seems wide but the activity is different for each age segment. The four to six-year-olds will possibly use it just for colouring, but older children will use it as a mapping exercise to discover their city,” said Shinibali Mitra Saigal, who created the activity kit along with Shivani Lath. The entrepreneurs are former journalists, while Mitra Saigal is the co-founder of Kahani Karnival, a Mumbai-based children’s festival.

The Mealtime series by BrownBox Toys (Rs 450) is another charming set of sticker placemats that offer a culinary tour of India, China and England. Each set comes with four posters of typical Indian, Chinese or English meals, with stickers of the food items. The series introduces toddlers to different cultures and helps them understand food habits across the world. For instance, Mealtime England has a poster for fish n’ chips, complete with stickers of tartare sauce, mustard, crisps, peas, vinegar, and other sauces and condiments. Toddlers paste the stickers on the brown paper illustration on the page, to learn what a complete fish n’ chips meal would include. Mealtime India has a range of samosa, thali, kebabs, and dosa and idli. The selection is a mix of familiar and new food, which encourages children to try new dishes as well. The idea is to spark curiosity in young minds.

Then there’s PoppadumArt’s adorable Chalkboard Puzzle Mats (Rs 390) with a range of shapes such as sheep, goats, and bunnies. The animal’s head detaches to become a coaster. Children can write on the mat with chalk, wipe it off, and then scribble again. Made out of medium density fibreboard with a foam backing, the placemat is easy to wipe and reusable, said Saanwari Gorwaney, who started PoppadumArt four years ago to make what she calls “happy things to make spaces happy and bright”. Gorwaney, who is now based out of Gurgaon, worked in advertising before she embarked on this online venture. Out of the three, the chalkboard puzzle mats are easily reusable when it comes to dealing with messy hands. Both Mealtime and My Mumbai would need to be laminated before they can be used as permanent placemats. Of course, they might just end up being displayed on the refrigerator as works of art instead.

To order My Mumbai, visit http://www.facebook.com/My-Mumbai-1701714190047560/?fref=ts. The Mealtime series can be ordered online on http://www.brownboxtoys.com/ and the Chalkboard Puzzle Mats on http://www.poppadumart.com.

Entrepreneurs are creating interesting placemats that can keep the little ones occupied at the dining table

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