Celebrating Valentine’s Day with your Littlest Loves

One of the days I used to cherish as teacher was always Valentine’s Day! My classroom would inevitably become a sea of red and pink tissue paper, construction paper and glitter. It was always noisy and the kids went home with a sugar high. BUT I got to see their faces as they passed out their valentines with pride, working hard to make sure that they visited each ‘mail box’ we had made and I knew how excited they were to open the paper cards from all their classmates. Not to mention, many of my students had a handmade love note for me so I got to deliver a lot of hugs in return! For many, it was their first experience spreading the love of this holiday and I wished it could always be as simple and satisfying as it was at five and six. Now my own children are old enough to enjoy some Valentine’s Day activities so I searched out a few that would be fun and home-friendly.
Suncatchers (image source)

For this Heart Sun Catcher, you will need thin cardboard, like a cereal box, clear contact paper, tissue paper and glitter. I know, it takes courage to let little hands shake glitter!

  1. Start with a rectangle of your thin cardboard and cut out a large heart, leaving enough of a frame around it so that it will be sturdy.
  2. Cut two pieces of contact paper the same size as your cardboard rectangle. Peel one and lay it over the heart so that you are exposing the sticky side. Keep the other piece to lay on top of the work when it is finished.
  3. Allow your toddler or older child to decorate the sticky heart however they like, sprinkling glitter, laying down tissue squares or adding other materials you think of…
  4. When finished, peel your remaining contact paper and cover so that nothing is sticky or falling off. 
  5. Display!
Here are a few more cute ideas
Stamping with fruits and vegetables is great fun and shows little ones that there can be many ways to use something when you add a little imagination! I thought this would also be a nice Valentine’s Day gift for a grandparent or teacher. You will need rubber bands, a bunch of celery, construction paper or card stock, red and green tempura paints.
  1. Before cutting the base of your celery off, wrap the top and bottom with rubber bands to keep them together. Then remove the base of the celery with a sharp knife.
  2. Pour red paint in a shallow paper or plastic plate and dip the bundled celery stalks
  3. Have your child stamp the flower shape on the paper several times
  4. Dip your child’s finger in green paint or use a brush and have them add stems to the flowers 
There are many other animals that can be made from hearts!

This activity is better suited for a slightly older child but a preschooler can certainly help and will enjoy watching the hearts be transformed into an animal face! Have your child help you look at this picture to count how many hearts you will need of each color. Sorting by color and size is another great extension of this craft. You will need, brown, pink, black, red and white construction paper plus a glue stick or white glue and scissors.

  1. Fold two pieces of brown construction paper in half. Cut one large half heart from the first piece, unfolding it to reveal the whole heart. From the second piece, follow suit but cut two smaller hearts. With your scraps, find another brown piece to fold in half for an even smaller heart.
  2. Using the same technique, cut a hear from the pink paper that is just slightly smaller than the medium brown hearts.
  3. Fold and cut two small white hearts for the eyes
  4. Fold and cut an assortment of black hearts: nine all together.
  5. Finally you will need one small red heart for the tongue.
  6. This dog face goes together like a puzzle. You will cut the pink hear and one medium brown heart in half for the ears. The other medium brown heart is the top of the dog’s face with the large brown heart overlapping it upside down as the bottom of the face. Piece together the rest for all the details!
  7. For more images of the steps to make this treat, click here

Now, if you are looking for a very addicting and super easy to make treat, try these sweet and savory Valentine’s Day Pretzel Buttons! A student of mine used to bring me a pretty cellophane bag filled with these every year and I had to practice great restraint not to eat them all by the end of the school day. The best part about these is that they are perfect for boosting the fine motor skills of your little helpers (suffice it to say that my almost two year old son can already unwrap a hershey kiss with ease!) You will need pretzels (circular pretzels are shown here, but I think the square pretzel snaps are easier to use,) Hershey’s hugs, and pink and red m&ms.

  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and heat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. Have your helpers unwrap the desired amount of Hershey’s hugs (maybe give them a quota of how many they can eat)
  3. Place pretzels in rows on baking sheet with one hug in each center
  4. Bake for four minutes (do not let chocolate melt; it should still hold its shape)
  5. Carefully press m&m onto each hug; you may need to let the pretzel stand for a moment if the chocolate is too soft
  6. Deliver to neighbors, teachers or just gobble them up with your kids!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your littles!
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