Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Valentine Art You Can’t Buy

I’ve struggled to find Valentine decorations I like.  I’m really trying not to have “stuff” for the sake of “stuff”.  Similar to the guide used by Tsh of Simple Mom, I’m trying to choose things for my home that I find beautiful, useful, or meaningful.  And the standard decor in the Valentine aisle wasn’t fitting any of those three targets.  Inspired by these posts by the Nester and Childhood 101, I decided to make these Valentine canvases with my three boys. 

They were fun and easy and produced decorations for Valentine’s Day that will be beautiful and meaningful for years to come.

We were having so much fun painting, I didn’t think to take pictures until after we were done.  Here’s the quick run down:

I simply base coated the canvases, then cut hearts from vinyl for my boys to decorate their boards.  (I assume contact paper would work as well.)  With the vinyl in place my boys set out painting over their designs using a variety of acrylic craft paints and texture tools (rollers, slinkies, combs, sponges, and brushes).  After the painting was done, I used a razor blade to loosen the edges and remove the vinyl (the paint was partially dry). 

It’s a fun, quick, creative activity that you could do today as a part of your Valentine’s Day festivities.  Have your child sign the back and add the date, and you’ll have a beautiful, meaningful decoration for many Valentine’s Days to come!  You’ll love the reminder of those little hands creating the art, and your children will gain a sense of value and ownership as their own art is used to beautify your home.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Turn to an Old Custom for a New Tradition on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has never really been my favorite.  I’m no Valentine’s Grinch, I’ve just always been stumped by the traditional gift choices.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chocolate, but there’s only so much a body can take. Flowers are nice, but I always prefer to get them as a surprise rather than an obligatory bouquet.  Neither of those really works for my husband, and while marketers have assured me nothing would say “I love you” like a new iPad, that’s not exactly in the budget.   And what do you get for the kids?   There’s not much room left in their junk drawer to accommodate another googly-eyed pencil topper or plastic trinket.
 
  Then a friend of mine shared a fantastic family tradition.  Apparently, in Spain (where she lived for a time), the holiday for lovers is known as the day of the book and the rose.  Though held in April, this holiday is similar to Valentine’s Day, in that it is set-aside for expressing love.  But as the name implies, the custom on this holiday is for couples to exchange flowers and books.  BOOKS!  Now there’s something meaningful I can get behind!  Not only is it something within a manageable price range and something worth keeping around for more than a few days, it’s also a gift that feels much more personal than something cliché from the seasonal aisle of the nearest store.

 

Since my husband and I both love books, a love we’ve worked to share with our children, we’ve decided to make this a tradition in our own home as well.  So now, each Valentine’s Day, we select a book for each other, as well as books for each of our children. Sometimes the book choice expresses love (I Love You Stinky Face is one of my favorites for kids), reflects an interest the recipient is passionate about (our three boys are getting books about ninjas, dinosaurs, and outer space this year), or it may be a way of recognizing and supporting someone’s goals (my husband is often keen to tie my book in with one of my New Year’s resolutions). And of course, there’s always room for books that are just plain fun to read!

We serve up our books alongside a special breakfast like toast cut in heart shapes and topped with raspberry jam, a simple treat my boys go crazy for.  If you’re feeling more gourmet, try out something like Cinnamon Baked French Toast or Homemade Cinnamon Bread served with a breakfast smoothie, all from the Pioneer Woman.

Try out this old custom as a new tradition at your house! 

What other Valentine’s Day traditions are among your favorites?

Top photo by Piotr Bizior.
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Heart Art

Sorry for the delay in posts!  It’s teething time again around here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time snuggling a certain 10-month old.  You’d  take snuggling him over writing too if you saw those eyes!

So, while I was planning on giving you plenty of heart art ideas here, I’ll finish the write up of the ones I had ready and link you to some great ones I’ve found on another site by a blogger I assume doesn’t have any teething ten-month olds.

Why don’t we start with a little Fold Art?

I love the symmetry of hearts. They’re perfect for fold art! You can do this with any paint, but I love using syrup paint, for something different….and shiny! A little goes a long way here, so if you can, help your little ones to slow down and see what happens as they add each dropper of paint and then fold. The paint spreads out and takes up more space and it also creates those fantastic symmetrical designs!  (Just make sure they open them back up to dry, or they will stick shut!)

Homemade Stampers

Make your own stampers by cutting sponges and hot gluing them (they must be dry to adhere) to small containers.

 

I found an empty spice bottle worked best, but detergent caps, empty spools, and  PVC pipe could be used as well.  Whatever beautiful junk you may have that will fit right into a little hand! 

You can cut heart shapes, or get the kiddos in on the action and let them cut out their own abstract shapes!

Here are some stencils I quickly made up out of manilla folders. Set these out with art trays, paper, paint, and printing instruments like bubble wrap, texture rollers, print blocks, even marbles and golf balls for rolling.  When the painting is done, remove the stencil for a heart art masterpiece.

These three activities promote creativity, small motor skills, and even some math concepts as you examine the symmetry!

I also wanted to recommend the activities over at Sheryl’s blog, here, here, and here.  They’re just fantastic!

If you aren’t planning on making anymore Valentine’s projects, remember that any of these techniques could be used on any shape of paper!  It’s the process and experience that makes them great!  The hearts are just a bonus!

 For more Valentine’s Day activities click here!

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Five Valentine Treats!

Looking for a tasty treat to make for or with your kiddos on that special day of love?  Here are five treats that will make the day memorable!

Heart Biscuits

Take your favorite biscuit recipe (try this one), favorite quick mix, or pop-tube of dough, cut them with a heart-shaped cutter and press red sugar sprinkles in before baking!  As Fancy Nancy would say, “Magnifique”!

Dipped Pretzels

Check out this blogger’s instructions for Valentine dipped pretzels!  I never realized before that a covered pretzel looks like a heart!  So darling and tasty!  You can do this activity with your kids and make some treats to deliver to their special friends, Grammy and Papa, or a secret Valentine! 

I made some today with my boys and we had a sweet science talk about changing states of matter as the bark was solid, then liquid, then solid again.  (We also had a talk about not double-dipping because their friends don’t want spit in their food.  Sadly, one batch was relegated to home-use only.  More for Mom!  I’m immune to spit!)

Valentine Trail Mix

Here’s a fun snack mix recipe to try out for a hearty snack.  If you have kids who will eat cashews, good for you.  If they (like mine) constantly nix the nuts, or if you’re worried about allergies, just omit or substitute with granola or a boxed cereal like Cheerios, Chex, or Life. 

Trail mixes are fun to make with the little ones because it’s just pour and stir.  Up the learning opportunity by pointing out the recipe and matching the labels to the ingredients.  You might even have the kiddos make their own batches in little baggies by setting out the ingredients in bowls along with a measuring spoon or scoop with each one.  On an index card next to each ingredient, write the ingredient name and a number, indicating the number of scoops to add to their baggies.  Fantastic pre-reading, numeral recognition, counting, and procedural practice!

Heart Hotcakes

IMG_9192.cooler

I saw this recipe for rainbow pancakes last week and thought it looked like something my boys would do backflips for.  If they knew how to do  backflips.  Don’t tell them, but I’m planning on using this obviously brilliant idea of adding color to batter to make red heart-shaped pancakes for their Valentine’s breakfast.  Shhhh.  It’s a surprise.  (If you’re morally opposed to food coloring, go natural and add some raspberry syrup!)

Sweetheart Smoothie

Add strawberries to this Orange Smoothie for a pink drink!  Slice the remaining strawberries along the length of the berry to create strawberry hearts for a garnish! 

Have a tasty Valentine’s Day!

Click here for the developmental benefits of cooking with kids!

For more Valentine’s Day activities click here!

Heart Branch image by rknds.

Rainbow Pancake image by Amanda.

Strawberry image by marta.

All other vastly inferior images by me.

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Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, Recipes - Edible, Snack Time

Valentine Candy Heart Count

Here’s a fun math activity that combines counting, one-to-one ratio,  numeral recognition, color recognition, sorting, graphing, number comparison, and well, sugar!  That’s a lot to do in one activity, but I  promise, your kiddos will enjoy it nonetheless.  And it’s only partly because of the sugar part. 

Children are natural sorters.  That’s why they create collections, line up possessions, and don’t want their food touching each other on their plates.  Use that natural compulsion in this Valentine candy heart activity.

Start out with this Candy Heart Counting Sheet.  (Under each color name, I usually draw a line in the corresponding color just to help out.)  Give the children each a small amount of candy hearts.  The amount will likely depend upon the child’s ability level or familiarity with counting.  Briefly show them how to sort and count by lining up the  candies on the boxes.  Observe and help out as they go along. 

As each child finishes, ask questions similar to those on the bottom of the sheet.  How many do they have of each color?  Which color do they have the most of? etc.  If you’re working with older children, you may want to have them color in the boxes after they remove the candies to create a bar graph.  You could also extend the activity by having them create patterns with the candies as well!  Math has never tasted so sweet!

For more Valentine’s ideas, check out the Valentines, Friends, and Communication unit page here.

Top photo by apletfx.

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Have You Met My Friend Stinky Face?

I Love You Stinky FaceI have a friend who has made a tradition of giving books to her children on Valentine’s Day.  (No, she’s not the one named Stinky Face.)  She tries to find some kind of love themed book to give to each of her children.  I love this idea, and as I thought about my favorite love themed children’s book, particularly from the perspective of a mom, my hands-down favorite is “I Love You Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt

This is a great story about a child who keeps asking his mother “what if” questions to test how much she really loves him.  Questions like, “What if I were an alligator with big, sharp teeth?” or “What if I were a green alien from Mars and I ate bugs instead of peanut butter?”  Of course the mother answers in perfect, funny, unconditionally loving fashion

Some “I love you books” overdose on sentiment and end up as illustrated greeting cards that c0uld only really appeal to adults.  Not this one! It is both tender and silly, and I just love it!  Even more importantly, my boys do as well.  And don’t think of it only as a book for family story time.  I read this to my class when I taught first grade, and it quickly became a top-requested read-aloud!

So whether you’re looking for a loving book for Valentine’s Day, or just a fun read, don’t pass this one up!  (And as a bonus, it’s currently in some of the Februrary Scholastic book orders!  Who doesn’t love a bargain?)

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Valentines, Friends, and Communication

Ahh, February!  The kiddos have just gotten over the withdrawal symptoms caused by the sudden drop in blood sugar levels after Christmas, so of course it’s the perfect time for another confectionary holiday! 

Now, I’m a middle of the roader when it comes to holidays and preschool.  I don’t quite agree with the notion that they should be completely abolished from school.  They are what kids are interested in, and I believe curriculum should emerge from the child’s interests.  Though, I also don’t agree with the idea that a holiday is an appropriate curriculum theme in and of itself for an extended period of time.  So I like to take the holiday and find connections to other social or science based themes.  As I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of friendship and writing and sending notes and letters.  I think of the social skills involved in creating and  maintaining human relationships.  These are skills children need to develop.  (While we’re at it, there are plenty of adults who could use a course on those skills as well!)

So, at this time of year, I like to utilize the theme “Friends and Communication”.  It allows for a focus on friendship – how we talk to our friends, what we like to do with our friends, and how we resolve conflicts with friends.  It also ties in with the concept of communication, particularly written communication (here’s where the Valentines really tie in) – the mail system, writing letters, recognizing written names, and sharing our thoughts in written words.

Here are just a few of the concepts and objectives within the theme:

Concepts / Objectives Subject Areas/Skills
  • Rhyming & Beginning Sounds
Phonemic Awareness /Pre-Reading Skills
  • Polite Language & Being a Good Friend
Social Skills
  • Graphing
Math – Sorting & Counting
  • Using the Mail
Social Concepts, Communication, & Writing
  • Creating and Completing Patterns
Math

I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately, but I’ll try to get as many of the Valentine’s activities posted before the actual holiday for anyone who might be looking for a last minute idea!  Here are the activities I plan to post:

Art:

Homemade Paint Stampers

Fold Art Hearts

Heart Stencils

Chalk & Water

Sensory:

Sparkly Scented Playdough (If you can handle this much excitement, combine this recipe with this one!)

Hearts and Cornmeal

Magnet Search

Shape Scoop (Add Hearts!)

Post Office Dramatic Play:

Make Your Own Post Office

What Envelopes Will Do to Your Writing Center! (Just do it and find out for yourself!)

Group Games, Songs, Etc.:

Heart Count and Pattern

Mail Match

Play “Who Has the Heart” (Adapt this game by using a felt heart instead of a pumpkin)

Five Little Valentines (This song and others located here.)

Do You Know This Friend of Mine?

Magic Words” Song and Sign Language

Snacks:

Heart Biscuits

Valentine Smoothies (Try this recipe, but add strawberries for a Valentine’s pink.  Garnish with strawberries sliced top-down to create a heart!)

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Big Soft Pretzels (This is the BEST recipe!)

Books:

Valentine Mice by Bethany Roberts (Combine with any rhyming game)

Jennifer Jones Won’t Leave Me Alone by Frieda Wishinsky (One of my all-time favorite books!  Follow up by making these Love Mobiles – simplified if necessary – for someone special!)

The Best Thing About Valentines by Eleanor Hudson (Make your own fancy Valentines!)

Rhyme Time Valentine by Nancy Poydar (Follow up with some Candy Heart Math!)

Mailbox Magic by Nancy Poydar (use with this activity)

Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell

Raymond and Nelda by Barbara Bottner

Please Write Back! by Jennifer E. Morris

We’ll see how quickly I can get caught up!  Stay tuned!

Top hearts photo by wemedge.

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