D is for Dinner
This is a fairly simple page, but one of the most immediately useful life skills Annie has learned from the quiet book yet. As you can probably intuit, D is for Dinner is about how to master a basic table setting. I even used a red checked cloth napkin as the page backdrop, to give both the look and texture of a casual outdoor picnic setting.
You can see how thick the letter D page spread is in this side view of the closed quiet book
One quick note about this page: because I chose to include real utensils in this page, the D page is the bulkiest page in our quiet book to date. It's also our most practical and most successful page to date, so I think it's totally worth it. But it's something to be aware of - this is a super fat quiet book page.
I more or less came up with this one on my own. Although I've seen quiet book pages that involve place settings, I haven't seen any that are all about setting the table, or that use real utensils. The burlap picnic basket pocket is definitely a feature I haven't seen before, but I think it works pretty well.
The burlap for the dinner basket, as well as the red zipper, came from an empty basmati rice bag. Open it up, and inside you'll find everything you need to set the table.
When you flip down the dinner basket, there is room for the entire place setting. Appliqued to the cloth napkin "table cloth" are silhouettes of each component of the place setting, outlined with red zig-zag stitching. I hemmed a small cloth square for the napkin, and made a "plate" from a piece of white sheet, stiffened with interfacing. The heavy-duty plastic utensils that came from a real picnic basket that my sister was upgrading to have stainless steel utensils.
By far the coolest part of the table setting is this little stainless steel collapsible cup. I knew I wanted something 3-D for the cup if it was possible, since a little circle cut-out or a flattened cup outline wouldn't be very exciting. I had trouble convincing myself to spend several dollars just for one element of a quiet book page, but when I found some on Ebay for $2, I knew it was worth it.
Check it out! You take the lid off, and then you can see the flattened cup, ready to telescope up into usefulness.
Ta-da! A full-sized, fully functioning stainless steel travel cup! This is definitely the girls' favorite part of setting this play dinner table.
If the plate were real, you could totally sit down and have a meal right on the quiet book page!
Preschool goals for using the dinner page
This is another very straightforward goal: Learn how to set the table. And, I'm happy to report, that after very little time exploring this page and matching the utensils to their silhouettes, Annie was able to translate the quiet book place setting to an actual table place setting. She happily helps set the table now, and when she thinks about it she can put everything in the right place. Success!
If you're not making a quiet book, this same concept could easily translate to a table setting placemat. You can buy plastic ones on Amazon, and there are tutorials of how to sew your own like this cute quilted placemat from Punkin Patterns. I envision something even simpler, however. All you'd need to do is take a pre-made placemat (the Dollar Tree sells them, and they're always available at thrift stores), and then sew your own plate, cup, napkin, and utensil silhouettes on. Or if freezer paper screen printing is more your thing, that would work well too. If you trace around your own place settings you will end up with a placemat that matches up directly to your own dinnerware - and it would be a very fast, easy, but eminently practical project.