Growing up, my parents did a great job reminding us what the focus should be for Valentine’s Day. The special people in our lives including grandparents, neighbors, teachers, and others was the reasons for this holiday. It was not a day to focus on material items or spending lots of money. Naturally, it was encouraged that we appreciate and show our loved ones daily how much they mean to us but let’s be honest, everyone enjoys giving and receiving a little extra attention on this unique holiday. Valentine’s Day, in our home, was more of a thoughtful holiday, rather than an “over the top” holiday.
What defines a “thoughtful holiday?” To our family, it means we created homemade and crafty projects and yummy treats to celebrate the people in our lives that were special to us.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the traditional Valentine card making can get, well a little old. Here are some of my favorite Valentine’s activities that don’t involve eating candy, are educational and kids of all ages can do alone, as a group or together with an adult.
Our first two activities are a great way to use those leftover candy hearts accumulated in Valentine’s cards from school. Remember to stash away and save a few candy hearts so you can do these activities again anytime of year!
1) Candy Heart Card
Materials: candy hearts with sayings or letters, construction paper, glue, marker, optional: glitter and other stickers
Using construction paper of your choice, make a Valentine’s card for someone you love. Fold the paper in half and glue candy hearts on the front. Use the hearts to create a saying, glue in the shape of a heart, or glue together the letter of the persons first name. Inside have child write of dictate why this person is someone they admire and love. Remember to have child sign and hand deliver if possible for the child to see how the card is appreciated!
2) Candy Heart Story or Candy Heart “Mad-Libs”
Materials: candy hearts with sayings, glue, construction paper, pen or pencil
Using the candy hearts, have your child pick one heart at a time and try to create a sentence. For example, if the heart says, “Call Me”, child makes a sentence using “Call Me” such as “Please, call me when you want to play.” This sentence can be written and the “Call Me” heart glued in the appropriate spot. Older children can be given four to six hearts at a time and create a story using those hearts. Glue the hearts down on the paper where they fit into the story.
This is great for creativity, fine motor and language skill building.
3) Valentine Word Game
Materials: paper, pen or pencil
Write the word “Valentine’s Day” on a piece of paper. Have the child come up with as many words as they can by selecting two or more letters in “Valentine’s Day.” For example, an, ten, nine, at, etc. are all words made from the letters found in “Valentine’s Day.” Put a timer on for a fun little competition or to make this a classroom activity.
4) Valentines Tri-Color Play dough
Play dough is always a crowd pleaser. I love it because it’s really a two-step activity, cooking followed by playing with the completed dough. Older children can help cook the play dough, which is a great way to develop motor, language and math skills. Younger children usually always enjoy playing with the finished product. Below is my favorite homemade recipe as it’s completely safe and edible, so those toddlers are free to play too! It’s very salty, so most little ones won’t want to eat more than a taste.
1 cup Flour
1 cup Boiling Water
2 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar
½ cup salt
1 Tbsp. Oil
Red & Blue Food Coloring
Combine and mix all ingredients except for the food coloring. Once the dough is soft and has lost its stickiness, you know it’s done. Divide the play dough into three equal parts and add two or three drops of red food coloring to one ball and two or three drops of blue food coloring to a second ball. Knead the dough until color is swirled throughout. You will now have one red ball, one blue ball and one white ball.
The fun in this activity comes in the excitement when the blue and red play dough is mixed together for a Valentines Day color surprise! Encourage your child to make different shapes and objects with the play dough. This activity helps develop fine motor skills, build creativity and learn about color mixing.
I hope you enjoy trying some of these activities with the children in your life both in the spirit of a little Valentine’s Day project or to share together on any other day of the year.
Happy Valentines Day!
Elissa Sungar is the Co-Creator of If Not You, Who? a free website that offers easy and fun in-home educational activities that help prepare children for kindergarten and life. Her passion for early childhood education grew out of her experience as a pre-school teacher at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School. Elissa loves spending time with her family and new baby boy, hiking, running, tennis, yoga, cute workout clothes, good cheese, great baked goods and exploring Denver! Twitter: @ElissaINYW