Valentine’s Day Sensory Play Ideas

valentine's day sensory activities In my classroom much like in my home play dough is always an option. Right now we have red play dough out at school and at home we are still enjoying our Gluten Free chocolate play dough. Play dough is a fabulous sensory activity but there are so many more ideas and materials to introduce to your kids. Here are some of my favorite Valentine’s Day sensory play ideas from us and other great kid activities blogs.

Have you tried any of these? If so leave a comment and let me know how it went.

valentine's day sensory activities

Gluten Free Chocolate Play Dough
Texture Collage Heart – explore and create!
Marbled Play Dough from Fireflies and Mudpies
Valentine Slime from Little Bins For Little Hands

valetine's day sensory bubble bin
Excavating Hearts from Munchkins and Moms
Pink Bubble Bin
Valentine’s Day Play Dough Bakery

valentine's day sensory love potions
Chocolate Slime from Fun At Home With Kids
Love Potions
Love Bug Play Dough from Fantastic Fun and Learning

valentine's day sensory discovery box
All The People I Love Discovery Bin
Color Mixing Play Dough Valentines from PBS Parents
Cinnamon Heart Cloud Dough from And Next Comes L
Valentine Soup from Fun At Home With Kids
Rose Scented No Cook Play Dough by Danya Banya

Squeeze Painting – Valentine’s Day Art Project

squeeze painting for preschool Squeezing isn’t just a fun way to burn off frustration, it’s also a wonderful exercise to build hand strength. The reason we want to encourage activities that build hand strength is that stronger hands leads to an easier time with handwriting, cutting, and even things like buttoning shirts and zipping jackets. This is especially true for doing any of those activities for a long time. Just like training for a marathon requires some strength training our little ones to write for a long time requires it as well. Working on developing hand strength doesn’t need to be work though. Using tools and materials that you squeeze with the whole hand is a great way you can encourage this at home or in your classroom. Tape resist is nothing new but instead of finger painting over the tape grab a few squeeze bottles and go to town. You can do this art project with kids of all ages and it’s a great option for multi-age groups. Here is how we made this squeeze painting Valentine’s Day wall art while working on hand strength.

Gather your materials. You will need a canvas, some painter’s tape, a box or something else to contain the mess, paint in 2 or more colors, and squeeze bottles.squeeze painting

Start by pouring your paint into the squeeze bottles and writing out the word you want on your canvas. You can do a shape if your child isn’t interested in letters yet. My daughter helped me with the letters telling me if I needed a long strip or a short strip of tape next for the letter.valentine's day canvas art

Next it’s time to paint. Do NOT worry about how this looks ( or how anything on this whole blog for that matter). This is really a process heavy project and I encourage you to try this simply with a canvas and no tape after. I try to make all our projects process heavy even if they have a product at the end.squeeze painting

Squeeze and splatter!squeeze paitning hand strength

She dumped a ton pf paint on and decided to move it around by tilting the box after. squeeze painting love sign for kidsThis way and that.valentine's day art canvas project

After all the paint was out of the bottles she continued to squeeze by blowing the air from the bottles and moving the paint around with the force of the air. I wanted to get closer photos but the thought of the little specks of paint on my camera lens kept me at a safe distance!squeeze painting for kids

After we let it dry for a long long long time we pulled the tape off together.love sign tape resist squeeze paint

Then together we found a great place where my daughter could SEE how much we valued her creation. love sign close up squeeze paintingWe settled on a spot in the kitchen.

 

Valentine’s Day Books For Kids

all our book lists include affiliate links.

the day it rained hearts

Day It Rained Hearts
by Felicia Bond is a sweet story that in my experience is a better bedtime story than circle time story especially for 4 and younger. The story is moving and lovely but in groups of children it just doesn’t grab them the way it does when they are snuggled up with someone they love. The story is about a little girl who collects hearts that fall from the clouds and makes incredibly touching gifts from them for special friends. The pace is just too slow for an active class that needs a hook, but perfect for bedtime when you want kids to be slowing down.

valentine friends

Valentine Friends
by April Jones Prince is one of my favorite Valentine’s Day books for 2 and 3 year olds. It’s simple, sweet, and has a great message about teamwork. The text is short enough for a circle time with very young children but the book isn’t baby-ish so older children will enjoy it too. The friends in the book all work together to make Valentine’s day treats and readers are left with the message that working together is a treat in itself.

10 valentine friends

10 Valentine Friends
by Janet Schulman is one of my daughter’s favorite counting books along with the other books in this series. While the rhymes are ta times forced the book itself is fun and it kept the attention of my 2-3 year old classroom who all participated in counting the valentines on each page. My daughter who is 4.5 likes picking out the details in each page and making up stories about the characters. I like that the children are all trying to make valentines for each other using the knowledge they have about the recipient. It’s a wonderful lesson about gift giving and how you should tailor gifts to the recipient and not just make something you’ll like.

 

Chocolate Gluten Free Play Dough

gluten free chocolate play dough recipe

Cooking together is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite activities and the only thing that makes it better is to cook play dough we can play with after! This chocolate gluten free play dough recipe was a bit of an experiment because our tried and true Bisquick play dough recipe needs a microwave and we don’t have one. So we changed it a little and the end result was a yummy smelling , soft , and gluten free.  While we don’t have any issues with wheat or gluten many kids do so we wanted to create a fun and easy recipe for everyone.  After making the dough play with it – have some fun chocolate themed tools and materials ready to play.

gluten free playdough recipe

Gather your materials. You will need Gluten Free Bisquick, cooking oil, salt, unsweetened cocoa powder, and water. You will also need a cooking pot, spoon, and all your accessories for playing like some mini cupcake liners, sprinkles, a mini rolling pin, cookie cutters, and empty chocolate boxes.

Recipe :

1 1/2 cups of Gluten Free Bisquick
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of oil

gluten free playdough recipe for kids

Start by reading the recipe and measuring out the ingredients with your child. I can’t do this AND take her photo so we measured them out together and then she patiently waited for me to scurry around the island and grab my camera.

homemade gluten free playdough

Add the Bisquick, salt, and water together in the pot and let your child mix it until it’s thick. Add in the oil and cocoa powder.stiring play dough gluten free play dough

Pop it in the stove on medium low and mix. It’s ready to come off the stove when it forms into a ball.chocolate gluten free playdough

Time to knead it. We added a little more Bisquick and oil as we kneaded it. It smelled SO good!kneading play dough choclate factory

Then it was time time to play. chocolate gluten free play dough candy factoryShe made me some cookies, chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and more with the play dough SHE made. chocolate gluten free playdough recipe

Tips For Making Great Play Recipes With Kids

play recipes

Asia Citro has no issue with getting messy. The former science teacher turned blogger turned book author has devoted many many hours to finding just the right combinations of ingredients for amazing sensory play.  I appreciate this because much like baking I am great at playing with these recipes and even creating activities to do with them once they are done but I am no good at creating the recipes. Recipes like these are precise , not really my strong suit. It is Asia’s. I received this book free for review and you should probably know the author and I are friends. I hope it’s clear to all my readers I wouldn’t promote something unless it was rad even if my friend wrote it.

banana playdough

In her new book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids (affiliate link) she not only shares amazing screen free ideas she shares some exclusive play recipes, not even found on her blog Fun at Home With Kids. I decided to share some of my favorite recipes from her blog and then I let my daughter choose one of the exclusive ones from the book and share some one my favorite tips when you are making play recipes with your kids.

Before we get to the tips let me share my favorite play recipes you can find on Asia’s site Fun At Home With Kids:

edible paint

1. Scented Edible Paint
2. Rainbow Soap Foam Bubbles
3. Borax Free Slime
4. Polka Dot Slime
5. Foaming Dough Recipe : Magic Foaming Snowman

 

What I love about involving your kids in creating the play recipes is that it’s cooking and play all together. A lot of parents express how nervous they are about cooking with their kids or that they don’t have the patience for it. Well try this first. You aren’t a bad parent if you know that cooking dinner with your child will make you nuts. Maybe a play recipe like this will be the perfect compromise!

Browse for some recipes and let your child choose, she chose banana playdough. Letting your child choose the recipe they are going to make isn’t just a fun way to get them excited it’s a great way to model how you browse and read cookbooks. Flip through, read the ingredient lists together, and make shopping lists if need be. In this step along you are modeling real world reading and writing.

banana cooking

Measure out all the ingredients together making note of the numbers on the measuring cups. Cooking can be a wonderful intro to fractions in the real world for kids.banana mash

She loved mashing the bananas. Mashing bananas, avocados, cooked potatoes… and other mashable foods are always a good choice because kids can do this without you stepping in every two seconds. This builds their confidence.

banana cooking with kids

If a big bowl equals a big mess at your house give you child a little bit of the dough ( or whatever you are cooking) in their own smaller bowl and don’t worry if they spill it.

banana playdough

Time to play with it! Even if you are making real food play can absolutely follow. You can play restaurant with the completed meal, invite Barbie for a tea party, or my daughter’s favorite  play” TV Chef” Did I mention she would stop nursing if Giadia was on the TV as an infant? This girl has cooking in her DNA!

If you want the full recipe for the banana playdough  ( and so many others) grab a copy of 150+ Screen Free Activities For Kids by Asia Citro I can’t praise this new book enough. I think of it as my cookbook for sensory play. You can buy it on Amazon  —>  150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! ( affiliate link) and check out the author’s blog here.

Pom Pom Mittens Craft For Preschool

mitten craft

This fun little winter craft is simple to set up and fun for a wide range of abilities. You can make this a lesson about matching or textures, or you can just grab a hodgepodge of materials and let the kids create with wide open boundaries. I asked my daughter what she wanted to add to mittens and she looked at me like I was asking the dumbest question ever. ” Uh pom poms of course!” I thought that would be a fun contrast between the smooth card stock and the soft squishy pom poms so I raced to get them before she changed her mind. I made my own mittens too because it’s much more fun to create with someone else. I urge you to try to avoid samples to show kids, crafts are limited enough already samples tend to limit children’s creativity even more. I choose to craft along side her adopting some of her ideas into mine to model collaboration from time to time.

Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, yarn, a hole punch, pencil, scissors, white glue, and whatever collage material you are using. I think the pom poms are awfully cute. mitten craft

Start by folding your card stock in half. mitten craft

Next trace or have your child trace their hand. mitten craft

Cut out and voila you have just cut out two mittens. cut out pom pom mitten craft

Decorate. I hadn’t put out any markers or planned to have her draw but this is exactly why I love having all our materials within reach while we craft because she can grab what she wants to use. pom pom mittens craft for wintertime

Time to get the pom poms out and glue. pom pom mittens preschool craft

Add them to the card stock.

Can you tell she is upset in this photo? pom pom mittens countingShe had just counted all the pink pom poms and realized she was one short to have the same number on each mitten. A quick trip to the bathroom ( What? You don’t store extra art supplies under your bathroom sink?) and I was back with a few more pink ones.mitten craft for kids Once they are all glued on let dry. mitten craft for preschool

Punch a hole in each and attach a string. mitten craft for kindergartenI can’t help it I am going to add a warning that you all probably do not need but I can’t help but include. Please please do not allow young children to play with anything with a string like this unsupervised. If your child wants to play with their creations simple skip the string all together. All our activities are meant to be made with adult supervision and involvement. mitten craft for winter theme

Book

All book suggestions include affiliate links.

snow the mitten

The Mitten by Jan Brett is the perfect match for this craft and such a sweet book about a mitten that somehow keeps stretching as more and more animals crawl inside. That is until the bear sneezes! The illustrations are busy in a beautiful way that will have your children finding new things every time you read this book. The really amazing thing about this book is how it appeals to such a range of ages. My classroom of 2 and 3 year olds read this book the same week my son told me his had. He’s 8.