Valentine’s Day Activity for Toddlers – Discovery Box

valentine's day for toddler

Toddlers love digging through things. Kitchen cabinets, boxes of blocks or my daughter’s favorite the DVD drawer. I roped in that inherent desire to dig and find for this love themed Valentine’s Day activity for toddlers an easy discovery box.  Besides the silk flower petals inside there are paper hearts and family photos of people she knows and loves cut into hearts. As we played I’d ask her to find someone and she would search and search until she did. Great for families like ours that are spread out, or for any that are separated due to work or deployment.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container, some silk flower petals, printed card stock, double stick tape , family photos and a heart paper punch.
  2. Start by punching out paper hearts. The reason you want so many is that you want the toddler to pick each up and look on both sides to see if there is a picture. If the ones without the pictures over frustrate your child remove them. This builds concentration and memory.
  3. Cut out your pictures and using double stick tape stick them to some of the paper hearts.
  4. Add them to a container with the silk flowers.
  5. Add a toddler. She loved finding pictures of her brother as a baby the most.
  6. If they get up keep playing yourself, it doesn’t mean the activity is a flop they might just want some goggles… I had a hard time not laughing hysterically when she put the goggles on. She was happy and moved the box to the floor so maybe she was just more comfortable on the floor. I ran with it.
  7. Label things as you go but don’t interrupt too much, be there to help along not to direct.

My Toddler’s  Favorite Valentine’s Day Book

Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book since I brought it out of storage after Christmas. Countless. Every time we sit and lift the flaps together I get a serious craving for chocolate. Karen Katz is a toddler’s dream come true. Her illustrations are big and bright and filled with happy babies. Her text is short but still meaty enough for young preschoolers and the flaps to lift and open are perfect for this age when a static book often is just too static for a dynamic toddler. I can see why my daughter brings it over to me everyday. It’s the perfect book to go along with this activity and you could even slide a few of the hearts with photos under a few flaps while you read.

 

Pretend Play – Vet Clinic

Pretend Play Vet Clinic

Pretend play is probably my favorite part of early childhood education because there are countless lessons hidden in every pretend play scenario. We turned our playroom into a vet clinic simply by mixing a few stuffed animals with our trusty doctor kit and rearranging the furniture. It was fast for me to set up and both kids enjoyed taking care of their animals. Along the way they learned about body parts, empathy and my son and I had a nice chat about prescriptions and why it’s important to only ever take medicine the doctor has specifically prescribed for you .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some stuffed animals, a play doctor kit , some paper, a clip board, marker , and a bench or table to use as an exam table. I added a basket for my daughter who wanted to tuck her patients into bed after she examined them.
  2. Set up a waiting area with furniture and books – our books were all about dogs and cats, you can check out our reviews after the tutorial.
  3. Set up an exam room. I labeled each area and encourage you to as well, it helps deepen the play as well as adds some reading to the activity. Pretend Play Vet Clinic
  4. Make a check list for older kids who are reading and either have them write or circle answers. Can you tell I did this in a hurry? It was almost time to get my son from school. Best thing is he didn’t care, as long as he could read it no need to be perfect!
  5. Play! My daughter examined her cat trying out each instrument and having just had her own 18 month old check up she was familiar with many of them. I chatted with her as she played but didn’t intervene unless she interacted with me. I did pretend to nurse the cat as per her request.
  6. She loves her patients!
  7. With my son I pretended to be the dog and cat’s owners but followed his lead.
  8. We worked in measurement and gave the pup a little oxygen.
  9. The puppy got a clean bill of health!

Books About Cats and Dogs

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (If You Give… Books) by Laura Numeroff is one of the newer “If You Give…” series. I like this one , I mean any book with a cat in a bathing suit is worth a look. I am a big fan of these stories not only because they have just the right amount of text for young preschoolers, but also because the illustrations by Felicia Bond are so detailed you can spend ages talking about what your child sees in the book after the words are read. I love the cause and effect , and after a few readings your child will have fun telling you what’s next.

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill ! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargain hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

This post was shared on Nurture Store’s Play Academy

Playdough Play – Toy Prints

We play with playdough daily, usually more than once. My daughter is fascinated with it and her favorite thing to do with it is to press objects into the playdough and make prints. This was not a planned post at all, and all the photos were taken with my phone since I didn’t want to interrupt her play to grab my camera that was downstairs. Simple discovery play like this is my favorite and such a fun way to connect with your toddler.

 

We started with our playdough and usual cookie cutters. I usually switch the cutters and color of playdough out every few weeks. Then she grabbed this light up wand of her brothers and started making prints. She was in giggly heaven, especially since it lit up every time she hit it hard enough into the play dough.

Then we grabbed some duplo and made prints . These we all agreed looked like cheezits!

We flipped the duplo over and made little “buttons” and she very carefully pressed each one.

Her giggles and my photo snapping attracted the attention of my son who brought over a gear to press into the playdough.

Activities like these that use toys you have in new and novel ways with a sense of discovery ” Hey what sort of print with that block make?” is such and easy activity but trust me it will go on for a long time, happily! We also used little people which if you press the bottom into the playdough make a shape rather reminiscent of a nipple. My nursing daughter pointed that out to me right away , the picture was rather life like so I skipped it. Other fun toys were train tracks ( skip the trains the playdough will get stuck in the wheels) and chunky puzzle pieces .

Celebrate New Years – Kid Art Retrospective

retrospective

My kids have been busy playing with their new toys, my son has been  building Legos and my daughter has been pushing babies around the house with her new buggy. I wanted to do something special to celebrate the amazing year we had so while they were playing I ran upstairs, found the bin of art and made an art gallery of their 2011 creations.  It was a fun way to spend snack time and look back at our favorite pieces from 2011.

 

  1. Gather your materials. You will need your children’s art , painters tape ( so you don’t muck up the walls) , some snacks ( all gallery openings have snacks! ) , as well as something to use as a sign, and to write a blurb about the artists.
  2. I sorted through my kids’ art that made it to the keep bin in my son’s closet. I have a canvas bin in the corner of this closet that we run art into that passes the keep test. I also put in almost everything my daughter makes. She’ll get her own bin soon.
  3. I put the art up at their and slightly above their eye level. I was careful to have things my daughter made at a level she could touch… and as you will see that was a huge hit with her to be able to touch the pieces she made, and is clearly proud of.
  4. Make a sign for the door.
  5. Don’t forget a blurb about the artists.
  6. I put out art related books in the reading nook too.
  7. Add some snacks.
  8. Invite your guests of honor. I wish I’d done this when my parents were still in town because my kids loved seeing their art and showing it off to their dad, they would have loved showing it off to their grandparents too.
  9. I loved that she gravitated towards her own art.
  10. My son showed off the pieces he loved making – marshmallow art is his favorite. No clue why.
  11. After her brother had his treats , and gave a quick gallery talk about when he made this or that he went back to legos, but my daughter stayed looking forever. I see many more museum trips in our future, although she has already been to one of my favorite museums with me.
  12. Then we read a few books and quietly had another cookie. Here are some great fine art books to check out .  

Happy New Year !

Bubble Wrap Christmas Trees

This was supposed to be a craft just for my daughter, but when my son and his friend saw what we were doing they jumped in too.  I was not planning on 3 kids doing it all at once so it was a little chaotic but the playroom and all the kids survived… remember to use washable paint .  The kids have all used bubble wrap to print on things before so switching it so they painted the bubble wrap was new and a big hit.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bubble wrap, paint, painter’s tape, paint brushes , heavy paper ( paper grocery bags are perfect), a pencil and scissors.
  2. Start by taping the bubble wrap to the work surface with the painter’s tape.
  3. Next paint the bubble wrap with green. For my toddler I gave her a big brush for the green to encourage coverage. She was encouraged …
  4. Next add the lights colors. Let kids decide which colors they want, this helps with color recognition too.
  5. Ok this is when the boys busted in pretending to be Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader ( I know impossible right… not for two imaginative 5 year olds! ) and grabbed some brushes.
  6. Keep painting the wrap.
  7. Draw some trees on the paper and cut out.
  8. Press the paper into the wrap and peel back carefully.
  9. For my toddler I left the paper big so she could do as much as possible herself , the small tree would have probably gotten ripped. Leaving it big let her do it herself feeling the wrap under the paper and “bang banging” her hand to make the print.
  10. Let dry and cut out the tree shape for the toddler. 
  11. Hang up and show off the fun ( and wee bit of chaos…) remember washable paints!