This is the first time I’ve come across the idea of a “pat mat” and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. What a brilliant concept. Thank you Early Learning Centre and Woolworths!
In October 2007 Woolworths started carrying a range of toys from Early Learning Centre, a leading educational toy brand in the UK. This pat mat is designed for babies 6 months and older and features a big colourful image of Whiskers the cat on the bottom layer of plastic. It has a second layer of clear plastic on top and smaller shapes (printed with bright shiny stars and with the other adorable characters from the Blossom Farm Range) appear between these two layers. Simply fill the pat mat with water and voilà! – the characters dance around in the pat mat each time you tap its surface.
What we love about it:
- It’s bright and colourful and the friendly Blossom Farm characters are simply adorable.
- It’s easy to use, with simple to follow instructions and a water level line printed on the back.
- It folds up easily and will require very little storage space when not in use.
- It’s perfect for use on your baby’s high chair.
Areas of development that can be targeted:
- The images will stimulate your baby’s visual sense
- Patting the characters in the mat will help your baby’s hand-eye coordination develop
- Following the characters as they move around in the mat will develop your baby’s visual tracking abilities
- Language development – Talking to your baby about the characters in the mat will help improve his vocabulary and I just love the lovely rhyming description: cat, pat, mat. Your baby might not understand rhyming words yet, but hearing them regularly will help lay the foundations for literacy development later.
- Babies start experimenting with cause and effect from about 4 months and seeing that they have an impact on the world around them (I pat the mat and the characters move) helps to lay essential building blocks for a positive self-esteem later on.
Where it can be improved on:
- Filling the mat up with water is relatively simple, but emptying it out again is a little harder as you have to push the valve down while trying to push the water out past it and even with the best efforts tiny pockets of water are bound to get trapped inside.
- The pat mat will undoubtedly stimulate your baby’s visual sense, and pressing down on the water filled mat will stimulate your baby’s tactile sense to some degree, yet we feel that more could be done to stimulate the tactile experience such as adding different textures to the top layer.
Anel Annandale is a prominent Educational Psychologist with a passion for early childhood development and a special interest in neuropsychology.
She is experienced in the field and has established herself as an expert, often appearing on television shows such as Exspresso. She is also available as a guest speaker at relevant events and functions.