Printable Imaginative Play Mats

free printable imaginative play mats

I have long lusted after some of the gorgeous felted play mats like the ones you see on Etsy or in Steiner/Waldorf shops. But felting is not my thing so I’ve just admired from afar, until I got the crazy idea to make a printable one!

I started with two very simple scenes – sea, sand and forest, and a garden with a pond and path. These are very simple play mats, with the idea to spark imagination rather than really direct play.

Of course my printed play mats are not nearly as beautiful as the felted version, and since I only have a regular A4 desk jet printer they are limited in size, but that didn’t seem to bother Noah when I set them up for him to explore.

I taped the sea sand and forest play mat to a larger sheet of paper and taped that to the table, just to give it some more stability. Then I collected a few bits and pieces such as wooden trees, blocks, stones, and shells and hauled the huge tub of animals out next to the table. The rest was up to Noah

free printable imaginative play mats

At first he hunted for all the Australian animals (don’t worry, kangaroos are not really fluro orange!) and then looked for animals that could live in the water.

free printable imaginative play mats

After a little while he wanted to try out the second play mat, this time with dinosaurs! And later he made the busiest zoo I have ever seen, with animals crammed in everywhere!

free printable imaginative play mats

You can download each of these simple imaginative play mats so you can play too.

If your printer has the ‘borderless printing’ option, you can use that to print these play mats so that they fill the whole piece of A4 paper.

Download the sea, sand and forest play mat here.

free printable imaginative play mat - Sea Sand and Forest

Download the garden path play mat here.

free printable imaginative play mat - Garden Path

We’ve had so much fun with these simple printable play mats that I will have to make some more. Noah wants a ‘bolcano with lots of lava’ (???) I was thinking more along the lines of a river??

I’d love to hear your ideas for more printable play mats or any other printables you’d like!


For more great ideas for preschool aged kids buy this great ebook!
Three to Five - Playful Preschool ebook

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    Oh you are too clever! I love them!! We made ourselves a farm play mat by sewing lots of scraps of fabric together and adding some knits and other pieces to it. But how great to be able to print these off and play!!

  2. says

    LOVE this and will be printing asap! Thank you Kate. It’s so funny how play can start out so precise but end up with everything all in together. So brilliant. LOL
    My little girl would love anything that would have her matching things together, although I know you already have shared some great printables that do that.

  3. Elizabeth Cavanaugh says

    I absolutely love your printable play mats. I’m going to print them out on t shirt transfer paper and then iron them onto felt for stability :) Thank you so much, my kids are going to love these!

  4. says

    Thank you for these…my girls are just loving them! I hope it is okay, I wrote about these on my blog and linked back here so that others can discover them as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jodie says

    Thank you for these fabulous mats!! I have been wanting something like this for a while for my boy to use with his collection of animals. I have the luxury of an A3 printer so I was able to print them bigger which is perfect. Thanks again!!

  6. Cowboy Trent says

    Oh MY GOSH!!! Thank you so much for creativity! These are wonderful and will be a great addition to our playmats and small world play. The felting is something I’m interested in but I’m short on time right now. This will give us something to work from too! Best Wishes!

  7. Amanda says

    Great idea! My son has a large rug with water and land he uses for this type of play.

    I do have one question. Where did you get the trees??

  8. says

    Hi Kate
    As a reception teacher, these mats are a brilliant idea for inspiration. Other ideas would be strange planets, the moon, or in space generally with planets and stars, the path in the Gruffalo story or a forest with a cottage for Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Bears etc. A road and roundabout etc or even an underground theme with burrows and roots for use with plastic minibeast toys!! Just some thoughts.

  9. Lorna Motherwell says

    Even with an A4 printer you can make these play scenes larger by selecting the poster in your printer options. Then increase the % increase you would like to enlarge it by. On my printer options it shows a preview of how many A4 sheets it would print out over and where the joins would be so you can fiddle with the numbers until it’s how you want it. Then just print, trim and glue or tape the overlaps together and your scene is as large as your imagination!

  10. Sharmi says

    Hi, I love this and anything which involves imaginary play. In the past you send a picture of a personalised wooden box. My son loves dinosaurs so I made one in using your idea. He loved it and kept saying it was the best Christmas gift he had ever received :) So thank you!! I am going to print these mats out now for him so he can use them with his dinosaurs as well :) He will love it. But just one thought. Would it be possible for you to upload two versions e.g one is the same one as you have uploaded here but the other one exactly symmetrical please? That way, we could print out both and then stick them to bigger paper to form a big mat? I tried to see if it was possible to print it in that way but I couldn’t do it. Thank you once again :)

  11. adi olabi says

    Great job! I was also looking for some play mats to use for different stories like Three Billy Goats Gruff , Goldilocks and the Three Bears or any other, if you can do them or anybody knows a site where I can find such things will be great to hear! Thanks again for your effort and sharing!

  12. Candice says

    Hi! These are great! I was just wondering what program you used to draw these up on the computer…I would love to make a few girly ones for my daughter!

    • katepickle says

      I used adobe illustrator to draw these but I am sure you could use any image/drawing software, or even just paint on paper.

  13. Lorelle says

    These are fantastic….will start making some now for grandchildren which I hope to have one day. Have you thought of a Space theme.

  14. sheena says

    Wow Thanks you just printed these added animals popped into bags for take along toys for the children when we are out and having to wait.

  15. says

    These mats are great, thank you for sharing! Kids’ creativity should be encouraged and it doesn’t have to take a lot of work to nourish their imaginations.

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