Talk To Me

Soothing Activity Mats

In “Building your own Talk To Me Treasure Box,” there is a list of several items – Tangles©, worry beads, rice ‘beanbags’, etc. – to include in your treasure box.   While each of these items is beneficial on its own, a great way to keep them all together is to attach them to a mat.  Below, are instructions for creating your own sensory mat that contains: a set of worry beads, a rice bean bag, a tail of textured ribbons, a picture pocket, and a Tangle©.  You can customize your own mat with additional items by adding additional loops and changing their placement on the mat. If you choose to change the overall size of the mat, remember to take your loved ones needs into account.  Will the mat fit between the arms of a wheelchair? Will it flop too far over his/her knees? Is the weight of the items balanced across the mat? Please note that construction of a sensory mat requires a sewing machine and a basic understanding of sewing. 

 

Making Worry Beads

  • What you’ll need:
    • One yard heat fusible elefant cord or craft cord
    • Five or more wooden beads in assorted sizes and colors (each bead must have a 5/8 inch hole)
    • One lighter
  • Directions:
    • Cut the craft cord into three equal strands.                                                          
    • Using all three cords, tie a knot at one end.                                                                                                    
    • Tightly braid the cord.                                                                                                               
    • Once the braid is finished, place painters tape around the untied end so that you can slide the beads on with ease.
    • Once all the beads are on your braid, take the untied end and slide it through the first bead again to form a loop.
    • Remove the painters tape and, again using all three cords, tie a knot at the end of the braid to secure it.
    • Trim the tips of the craft cord to even lengths and run them through the flame of the lighter to keep them from fraying                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Making A Rice Bean Bag

  • What you’ll need:
    • Two 4 x 4 inch light, solid colored pieces of cotton fabric
    • Two 5 x 5 inch pieces of cotton fabric (preferably in a fun color or print)
    • Coordinating thread
    • One hand sewing needle
    • 3/4 to 1 cup of rice
  • Directions:
    • Take the two 4 x 4 inch pieces of cotton fabric and lay them on top of each other with the right sides facing in.
    • Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew around the four sides leaving about a 1-inch opening on one side.
    • Trim corners and flip the pocket right side out.
    • Fill the pocket with enough rice to allow for kneading.
    • Seal 1-inch opening either by hand or by machine stitching.  
    • Take the two 5 x 5 inch pieces of cotton fabric and lay them on top of each other with the right sides facing in.
    • Using a half-inch seam allowance, sew around the four sides leaving a 3-inch opening on one side.
    • Trim corners and flip the pocket right side out.
    • Slide the rice filled bag inside the pocket.                                    
    • Seal 3-inch opening by hand or machine stitching                                             

Note:  Rice bean bags maybe chilled in your freezer or heated in your microwave for added therapeutic value.

 

 

Making A Sensory Mat

  • What you’ll need:
    • Two 16 x 21 inch rectangles decorator fabric (fabric for mat, preferably in fun colors and pleasing textures)
    • One 15 x 20 inch rectangle batting
    • One 15 x 20 inch rectangle heavy weight Pellon
    • One 5 x 7 inch rectangle heavy weight clear vinyl
    • Three to five 12-inch lengths of 1-inch wide ribbon (preferably in different textures and colors)
    • One 20-inch length double fold bias tape (18 inches to bind three edges of vinyl to form a picture pocket and 2 inches to secure the top edge of the ribbon tail)
    • One 5-inch length of 1-inch wide elastic (for holding rice bag)
    • Two 2-inch pieces ribbon or double fold bias tape (to form loops for holding worry beads and Tangle©)
    • Two 1-inch book rings
    • One Tangle© (purchase at www.tanglecreations.com)
    • One lighter
    • Masking or painter’s tape
  • Directions:
    • Create interior pad: Sew Pellon to batting with four seams as shown. This will keep the interior pad from shifting and bunching when placed inside the mat. 
    • Create picture pocket: Use the 18-inch length of bias tape to bind three sides of vinyl rectangle, leaving one of the 7-inch sides unbound.  Turn in ends and mitre corners as you secure the bias tape in place with small pieces of masking tape. Use your sewing machine to sew the binding in place then set aside.                                                
    • Create ribbon tail: Run both ends of the 12-inch ribbons through the flame of the lighter to prevent fraying. Stack the ribbons on top of each other, wrap the 2-inch piece of binding around one end, and sew over the binding to hold the tail together.                                                                                                                                                    
    • Create worry bead and Tangle© loops: Run both ends of the 2-inch ribbons through the flame of the lighter to prevent fraying. Fold both ribbons in half to form loops and set aside.
    • Position and sew front of mat: Select the decorator fabric for the front of your mat. On the right side:
      • Pin the picture pocket 2.5 inches from the top of the fabric and center it left to right. Carefully sew in place directly over your previous seam.
      • Pin the elastic (used to hold the bean bag) about 10.5 inches from the top of the fabric and centered right to left directly under the picture pocket. Sew/tack down both ends of elastic.
      • Pin ribbon tail on right side of fabric 2 inches from the top edge and centered between the picture pocket and right edge of fabric. Carefully sew in place directly over your previous seam.
      • Pin worry bead and Tangle© loops on the left side of the fabric about 1.75 inches and 8.75 inches from top edge and centered between the picture pocket and left edge of fabric. Carefully sew in place. Place a book ring in each of the loops to hold the Tangle© and worry beads.                  
    • Sew mat front and back together:
      • Match front of mat to back of mat – right sides facing in – and pin along all four edges. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, carefully sew together leaving a 12 to 15 inch opening across the bottom to insert interior pad. (This will create a finished mat size of 15 x 20 inches.) Clip corners and turn mat right sides outout and smooth/block.
         
      • Carefully insert interior pad through opening with batting facing the top of the mat.
      • Pin through all layers of mat along all four edges being sure to turn in seam allowances along bottom edge.
      • Secure interior pad to mat by top stitching around the edge of the entire mat with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
      • Ensure the bottom of the mat is sealed by top stitching across the bottom with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
      • Finish mat by placing a meaningful 4 x 6 inch picture in the picture pocket and by adding the Tangle©, worry beads, and rice bean bag.