Making a Child's Play Table

At a focus group, I was paid $60 for my ideas for a complete new type of restaurant that had never been done. It was used by the company who got the feedback from this Market Research Focus Group they'd hired for such a venture, and actually built it all to my total amazement, and it has become the most wonderful and unusual place in the state. It has a tropical jungle theme.


For a child's table idea I would strongly urge you to make one great table out of two circular ones with legs, by doing this:

Take the legs off one table, paint white, and set aside to dry until later. Draw and cut out the pattern of the top of a hippo head, from a bird's eye view. Paint it and the remaining legs from the bottom table, the typical med. gray of a hippo, wrapping the edges of the table top with the paint.

When dry add the black "dots" only for imitation whiskers, paint the nostrils shading black or dark gray, eyes in black/white. Then cut and attach tiny grey vinyl or gray leather "ears" tacked well to the outer edge of the table top, a little past middle towards rear of Hippo head, but over the big mouth. (A child will likely be attracted to these ears and pull on them off and on in playing/talking to the "hippo")

Find the best line to cut the painted top "almost" in half, but just after the ears, side to side, creating the illusion, when tilted up, of the open mouth of the Hippo, when in fact it turns into a caged hollow storage table for placing things inside the hippo's mouth-cage when open). but nothing can sit on top, keeping it clean to view the hippo, and clear to open the "hippo mouth-cage" for storing inside. (cut top almost into half but hinge the halves back into place with a piano hinge, if you can afford it, hiding the hinge pin underneath so that the top can become the top of the hippo cage's mouth storage table.)

Take the painted white legs and measure off, sawing straight, the equal lengths of about 4-5" each. Turning over the hippo-head that's now dry, mark off the correct numbers of places all around the underside edge, gluing leg lengths with carpenter's glue (Elmers?) and leaving them sticking onto the spots marked until dry. This will be the top of the table and the combo of "teeth/cage rails" when glue is totally dry overnight. Make certain that they are standing like a straight equally spaced line of birthday candles around the outer edges of a cake, so it will be ready, when dry the next day, to glue down to the same number of spots on the other table which should be painted like the inside mouth of the hippo, complete with 2" grey edge, outlining a flat rosy or ruby tongue, for the inside top and bottom of the table, the tongue being drawn/painted inside of the spots where the "hippo mouth-cage" will mate up to top of the hippo mouth-cage.

When all paint/glue is totally dry, drill holes for thin 2" wood screws ( you will drill through the top down, and from the bottom up, into each "tooth" for stability after they are all glued tightly and in place for drilling.

The top front teeth of the mouth-cage will be attached "only" to the top. The bottom front teeth "area" will be flat when mouth is open for sliding things into the table for storage.

By sawing the hinge opening not quite at the half-way mark on the top of the table, it will be easier for a child to open the hippo's mouth with teeth attached all the way back over the head and put the upper "teeth" out of the child's way, also allowing a surface to set something out from storage.

Turn table upside down and attach the bottom legs, (which you have painted grey, complete with white cloven hooves, and dried well overnight as well), to the finished hippo mouth-caged table. Before taking into the home, give the entire table, teeth, mouth, inside/out, a single spray-coating of clear polyurethane.

If the child is shown how to take care of things well, it should last through the early growing stages until ready to be matched up with more "grown up" furniture, such as a "caged/mosquito netted" bunk-bed and tree-ladder?

I believe a painted jungle wall or two, with tall giraffes against a tall golden light brown bamboo grove/olive-drab leaves, dark green vine, and a friendly brown/gray/olive boa snake, wrapped around one thick bamboo stalk, with a bright shade of blue sky peeking through at the top, from the same colored blue ceiling would about complete the room for a starter, don't you? Remember a couple of zebras off in the distant horizon on the third wall, standing on the painted grassy plains? Don't add too much to your paintings. Less is more, especially when all the toys get scattered around. You'll want to keep it bold and beautiful, right? Good luck. Hope you make and enjoy my ideas? God bless you as you consider some of His creation as your child's theme, and perhaps with a simple scripture on a Jungle sign: "Where your heart is, so there is also your Treasure, God loves you." theme?

By Lynda from TX

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