Remember Brownies? This is one of the cool tricks we learned a long, long time ago, and it still works! Well, as long as print newspapers are available, anyway.
Step 1: Materials
This is easy:
Newspaper. Pages with color pictures will add a bit of interest, if you can find them, but they're not essential.
(And some hand wipes for later)
Step 2: Prepare Strips
Tear full-size pages in half. With some practice, even little hands can do this step.
Fold each page in half, lengthwise.
Fold it in half again, lengthwise.
Press the folds tight. This will be messy, as the printer's ink will transfer onto skin. The mess can be minimized by using a stick to press the edges.
Each sit-upon needs eight strips.
Step 3: Begin the Weave
Lay a strip down. Put another beside it. Lay a third one perpendicular (teachable moment: vocabulary.) to the two, over one strip and under the other.
Continue weaving the strips until you have four vertical and four horizontal (more vocabulary enrichment!), woven over and under.
Step 5: Finish the Edges
Push the strips so that the edges are tight together. Beginning at one corner, fold the bottom of the strip up and press the crease. Fold down the top edge of that strip and tuck it into the horizontal strip it covers.
Repeat this process for the side you're working on, rotating the mat and folding and tucking into the horizontal strips along the edges.
Turn the mat over and do the same thing on the other side.
Step 6: Enjoy
Now you've created a multipurpose, recycled mat. It can be used for sitting upon or as a place mat for a picnic. Ask kids to think of other uses.
Little ones might need some help with the tucking of the ends, but they're pretty efficient weavers.