I wanted to create a product for children that would give them a hands-on play experience, while also being a learning tool. I decided on a play mat composed of six digitally embroidered pillows which would connect together using seven different kinds of fasteners.
I started my design process by thinking about areas that children struggle with or dislike. I then decided on three areas : bathtime, food, and cleaning up after playtime. Using illustrations of mine, I created a 20” x 20” pattern for each theme -- embroidering two pillows of each theme, creating a total of six pillows.
BACKSIDE : made using outdoor fabrics for durability and stain resistance
Creating a tactile learning aspect was important to me, as much of today’s entertainment for children consists of intangible digital media on screens. I decided on seven fasteners : velcro, button snaps, a zipper, parachute buckles, shoelaces, buttons + buttonholes, and overall buckles.
I took my finished play mat to a kindergarten classroom where I tested my product with kindergarten students and teachers. The children loved sitting on and lying on top of the pillows, and were excited to show how they could connect fasteners together. Teachers loved how the fasteners could help kids develop functional hand skills, and keep children on the autism spectrum entertained and occupied during lessons.

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