We were completely out of baby wipes and while rushing through Walmart these shiny hearts caught my eye. I grabbed them and stood there turning them over in my hand until I knew exactly what Valentine’s Day craft I was going to make with them! Simple Valentine’s day themed chalkboards. My kids love chalkboards and I love anything that inspires them to draw and write. The pack of 3 Wilton cake platers cost me $3.95 , the ribbon cost a buck and this chalkboard paint has been in my garage for years.
- Gather your materials. You will need the cardboard hearts , scissors, chalkboard paint, a brush, something to protect your floor/ table, something to make a hole in the cardboard with ( I used a Robertson head screwdriver and a hammer but I bet a pen would work) , ribbon and chalk.
- Start by painting your hearts. I painted one on the shiny side and one on the plain cardboard side. I wasn’t sure if the paint would adhere to the shiny surface. I am telling you Benjamin Moore really is rad paint. After they were dry you couldn’t tell a difference at all. Let dry.
- Thread the ribbon through. I decided to do two different styles . You will probably want the ribbon to be wired just because it makes threading it through the hole a breeze.
- Time to write ! I tested it out first to make sure it would erase well. It did. Then let my little ones go for it. My son was initially unhappy that the ribbon was pink but as I went off in search of a different color he called me back saying it was OK. Perhaps the anti pink phase is weaning? One can hope.
- After they decorated it all I hung them up in our hall way to add to our Valentine’s Day decor. I think these would be fun gifts for your kids on Valentine’s Day too or you could make these Monogrammed Hearts I created for Melissa & Doug’s blog last week.
Books About Love
Check out our recent round up of great picture books. This list is all about love in all different forms. Read all 14 book reviews here.
This is one of my favorite classic Valentine’s Day Crafts for little kids and toddlers. It’s simple for toddlers , fun for older kids and is gorgeous no matter how you do it. I also love that working with eye droppers requires some great fine motor and coordination skills so it’s more than just a pretty craft !
- Gather your materials. You will need some coffee filters ( 2 per heart) , ribbon, markers, double stick tape, scissors ( ours are pinking shears) , eye dropper, water, dish, something to protect your table and something absorbent like paper towels or a old cloth towel.
- Start by cutting your coffee filters but folding them. I love using pinking shears because they make it that much prettier.
- Time to color. My daughter did dots but go wild any design will work. Make sure kids know that their designs will change.
- My daughter colored a bunch . She was just in that sort of mood. Usually toddlers are quick to be done so if your child does 3 dots and declares they are done do not fret. That happens here all the time too. A trick to make many of these when attention spans are still on the short side is to not separate the filters keeping 2-4 all in a pile and coloring those. The color will bleed through . Another way to extend the activity without forcing is to offer a new color of marker as the interest starts decreasing.
- Add water! Talk about it spreading and the water mixing with the color and how the dry filter absorbs it like a towel absorbs the water on their body after a bath. Using every day references to learn new words and explain new experiences is a great tool for learning.
- Let dry .
- Choose pairs. You can even sneak in some simple math ” Can you find 2 hearts?” She was gleefully helpful with this. You can’t tell from the pictures but she was actually really taking her time making pairs. I was fascinated in a way only parents can be fascinated with their own kids
- Add tape and ribbon.
- Sandwich together and repeat. Find the right place to hang them to add a little love to your home. Ours are in the window that faces the driveway and every time I drive home they are the first things we see from the car.
I am still calling this an alphabet for starters activity but really my little girls is graduating to just plain alphabet activities. Matching upper and lowercase letters is not really a beginner activity but the playful way to learn with a memory game still meets the goal of this series . Playful alphabet activities. This game would be a cinch to adjust for more novice learners. Simply stick to only one case of letters or scrap the memory game and try something more straight forward like my friend Jamie did a few days ago on Hands On As We Grow. To make it tougher skip using the scaffold of the matching colors and use only one color of hearts. To see our other Alphabet for Starters activities see our list here.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.
- Write out letter pairs with one upper and one lowercase letter. I didn’t do the whole alphabet , I rarely do. I choose letters I know she knows ( M, A, J) and some I know she struggles with ( Q, G, ) and fill in the gaps randomly. Also each pair is done in the same color. When we played I told my daughter to find the same color. This made the game much more accessible for a 2 year old and gave her color recognition work to boot.
- Lay out your hearts face down.
- Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. We left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped over and even happier when she made a match. The first time we played she called the Q a “funny O” we tried to figure out what letter is was and I ended up labeling it for her and we kept playing. The next day ( we’ve played daily for 5 days in a row so far) she called it a Q and matched it to it’s lowercase letter without any prompting. No drill needed , just a fun game.
- Celebrate with each match and hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game! I often gets asked if I play against my kids for memory games. Sometime I do but usually I don’t. We play as a team . For my daughter with a game like this I will narrate with her after she identifies a letter unprompted I will say ” Hmm I wonder which heart the lowercase B is under ?” or some such thing. If she is having a hard time with a letter. I will try to ask questions to help her instead of just telling her. Like with the Q I said ” What letter do you have ?” and she answered ” A funny O.” then I said ” What makes it funny?” ” It has a tail Mama!” . To which I replied ” Do O’s have tails.” and she giggled saying “No!” and I said ” That is a an uppercase Q.” Even at such a young age kids can help figure things out and when we engage them like this they learn to ask questions , answer others and not just guess at the right answer.
Dinner isn’t always peaceful at our house. With a 2 year old who pops out of her chair and a negotiating 6 year old who’s food taste changes more often than his socks it sometimes feels like it’s kids vs. parents. That’s not how I want to spend my evening and I don’t like to view my kids as the opposing team either . To change the focus from getting of her chair and getting out of eating whatever is on his plate we often play games. This Valentine’s day themed dinner table conversation starter does double duty as decor as well!
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam hearts in various colors ( dollar store!), a red marker, pen, ribbon and clothes pins.
- Start by writing the classic conversation hearts sayings all in uppercase letters on your hearts.
- Next write out interesting and conversation provoking questions on the opposite side. No yes or no questions!
- Hang your ribbon close to your dinner table. You could make a garland, wreath or even pop them in a bowl too. Get your kids interested in this before dinner.
- At dinner have a child choose a heart and read both sides. We went around in a circle giving our answers and letting others comment and ask questions about each answer.
- My daughter wanted to read too – we aren’t sure what her’s really said but she asked us ” You like candy?” We all shared our favorite types of candy . We will keep this up until Valentine’s Day and hopefully have as enjoyable dinners ( most days) as we did tonight.
A preschool board meeting prevented me from posting this when I had planned and we have now had 3 dinner with these conversation hearts. All have been fun, informative and really great family time. My kids have been racing to the table to be the one chosen to pick the first heart. My daughter has chosen the same heart every night but asks us new questions that we can usually decipher. Tonight I learned that my son loves a new book , my daughter loves her brother more than princesses, that my husband loves math more than sports and when it comes down to it I like reading about educational psychology more than art history, even if the pictures aren’t as pretty.
Here is the list of questions I included:
What is your favorite game to play?
What is your favorite subject to learn about?
What do you want to get better at?
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite sport?
What character from a book/movie or TV show would you like to be?
What was your least favorite ride at at Disneyland?
What is your favorite food?
How old do you have to be to get married? ( My son said ” Well the law is 18 right? So I’ll stick with the law.” I almost choked on my dinner.)
What is your favorite room in the house to read in?
If you could visit any country in the world where would you go?
what do you want to be when you grow up?
This is another part of our learning after school series. I try to engage my son in fun things after school and when I asked him what he wanted to work on he said math. He loves math and comes by it very very naturally. His dad has a bachelors degree in engineering with a minor in math and a MBA in finance. Yeah numbers are well loved in our house . Even I love math although I didn’t always. It wasn’t until I was teaching it to students that I found the fun in numbers.
- Gather your materials. You will need a jar , some hearts ( any hearts will do – we used foam ones but paper, heart erasers, heart candies will all work), The printable found here and again below and a pencil with an eraser.
- Start by printing out the printable – click here or on the image for download. It looks grainy in the pdf but it’s clear when downloaded.
- Lay out the sheet, pencil and hearts and let your little math whiz at it. Of course this is more than just a math lesson. My son is working on writing numbers in kindergarten right now and this is my tricky way of practicing without making him write them over and over again. If the 8 questions are too much do 2 or 3 and put it away for a day or two and complete the rest after. Learning isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon so go slow if needed! He estimated, counted, sorted and counted and wrote some more.