I'm all about teaching Mr. M some self-sufficiency skills. I know a little girl his age who uses a potty all by herself, properly washes (with soap!) and dries her own hands, dresses/undresses by herself, and stays busy with puzzles and little self-directed QUIET games for hours on end. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing Mr. M to her (or to any other kids). I'm just being very envious of the little girl's mom, that's it!
And so, the little thing that I'm trying to teach Mr. M now is to set his table for each meal. To help him out, I wanted to get some kind of placemat with simple graphics showing what goes where - plate, cup, utensils.
I looked for it at a couple of local toystores and at Toys'R'Us, but couldn't find anything (although there are wonderful placemats with shapes, colors, dinosaurs, cars, maps, etc). I would've searched online, but I kept forgetting.
To make the long story short, I simply traced Mr. M's plates, utensils and cups on sheets of construction paper and glued them (the cut-outs, of course) onto a large sheet of white paper. I then drove over to the nearest Kinko's and got the whole thing laminated. Took a total of 30 mins and cost me about $4 for a two-sided placemat.
Mr. M absolutely loved the idea. He not only put the plate, the cup and the fork in the proper places, but asked for a knife and a spoon to "complete the picture". The unexpected benefit was that Mr. M ate at his table (instead of while running around the kitchen) and was much neater than usually - almost no mess. Hooray! Now let's see how long this novelty will last.