Under the table Cubby House

What: A tablecloth made from an old sheet that converts the dining table into a cubby house.

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Quick and simple. Mopping the floor first was the longest bit.

How: I had been wanting to make a tablecloth cubby house for ages. You can make them properly sewn to the right size (i.e. cubical with no baggy corners), and I imagined sewing on swatches of multicoloured fabric to make it look like an actual house with windows and doors etc. But in the end I opted for the simplest possible version. I had an old sheet that needed sides-to-middlesing but I’d never gotten round to it. A few minutes with marker pen and scissors, and the cubbyhouse tablecloth was done. I highly recommend drawing a rectangle on the top so that you know which bits of table and cloth to align.

I made this one December, just at the start of the six-week summer holidays. I thought the kids would enjoy having a quiet, enclosed space to play in every so often across the holiday season, be it together for a game or just on their own without anyone else in their face. Especially Kid 3, who would be starting kindergarten at the end of the summer and who definitely needed some practice dealing with their emotions while hiding from people. In fact what happened was that it was used a little bit at first and then not again for a while – it was hard to keep the floor under the dining table clean enough for them to want to go under, plus we kept needing to take the tablecloth off so we could do craft projects or playdough or other messy things. Making it this simply also meant it was a little vulnerable to ripping – despite the “door”, those windows were very tempting to climb out of! However, as an additional idea to keep kids busy or distracted for some random small time in a small space without a lot of outdoors options (this was heatwave season!), it was just fine.

Extras: This works quite well with the under-table chalkboard. I could also make another one of these, letting the kids be in charge – Kid 5 was quite keen on the idea of decorating it themselves with textas (in fact they did so), and Kid 7 would be quite eager to help with selecting fabrics and cutting shapes to make more solid decorations. I think I might have gotten more use out of it in the first round if I’d steered activities they could do inside the cubby, like setting up a tea party or putting colouring books in there. Kid 3 and Kid 5 weren’t quite able to generate enough ideas for things to do themselves inside a cubby.

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