I love my heart paper punch and my kids do too. It’s fun to make hearts for Valentine’s Day Crafts but you can also use them for math, write letters on them and play match.. the variations are endless. These three activities are just a few of the ways we have used punched out paper hearts lately.
I love painting in new ways and this was a great craft for my 19 month old who as you can see even helps me make a mess with a low mess activity like this. For another version of Valentine shake painting check out Hands On As We Grow- older kids will dig how they did it for sure!
- Gather your materials. You will need a plastic food container, some punched hearts( or cut out from construction paper), a piece of card stock, glue and paint of your choosing.
- Punch out some hearts from construction paper.
- Place them and paint in the food container. It’s easier to put the paint in first, they shake better that way. If you are nuts enough to hand your toddler the bottle of paint like I was be ready with a washcloth or my favorite- wipes.
- Put the top on and shake.
- Open and be amazed!
- Fold the card stock and add glue .
- Add hearts to glue and let dry. After seeing how cool the hearts looked someone else wanted in on the fun.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about arts and crafts, we love math and made this super easy patterning activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need your paper hearts, a cookie sheet ( check out the dollar store), some double stick tape , a paper cup and a sheet of construction paper.
- Start by taping the paper down on the cookie sheet and adding double stick tape to the hearts.
- Make some simple patterns. I like to start simple then slip a harder one or two in before getting easier again. I want my son to feel successful but challenged.
- Place the extra in a cup . I make sure there aren’t too many extra hearts but that there is more than the few he needs to finish the pattern.
- Complete the patterns.
After we were done with this my daughter ( who is all about hearts right now)painted over it for a valentine for my husband. I love when we reuse tray table activities like that.
Heart Color Match
This is another easy tray activity. Using a silicone pan I placed a different color paper heart in each and had the corresponding colors in a pile waiting to be matched up. This was too hard for my daughter at 19 months and my son would be bored to tears with it. It’s smack in the middle between their abilities so no pics of their participation but I still wanted to include the idea for the older toddlers and younger preschoolers who would love it.
Heart of Hearts Collage
I made this last year over at my other blog Craftitivity Corner on FamilyEducation.com pop over to see the tutorial.
When I suggested this idea to my son for the Tinker Lab Paper Bag Challenge he bolted to the playroom to start finding supplies. One problem his sister was napping and I’d worked hard to get her to sleep, I wasn’t about to wake her with the sounds of exploding bags. So we waited until this weekend and to say it was worth the wait is a total understatement. Our Love Bomb was fun to do and the end product was even cuter than I thought it would be.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper bags, scrap construction paper, a canvas or heavy paper,contact paper, white glue, scissors and/ or a hole punch.
- Start by cutting your scrap paper into small pieces. We used scissors and a hole punch.
- Pop them in the bags. We made 3 bags with a handful of confetti in each.
- Make a heart with contact paper.
- Pop the heart on the canvas. spread glue all over the canvas. Make sure there is lots along the edge of the contact paper. Forgive the photos, my camera dove to the floor on Friday and my new one hasn’t arrived yet. Thank you apple for my iPhone camera!
- Time for some confetti explosions, you might want to do this outside.
- Blow it up. Please make sure your child is only blowing into the bag and not sucking air in . They could suck in some of the confetti if they get confused. Practice if you are worried or better yet do the blowing up yourself.
- Smack it as hard as you can. It took us a few tries and we practiced earlier.
- Bam! Some of the confetti will fly out but you still have to give it a little shake to get it all.
- After all have been popped, gently push the confetti that are on the heart to the edge. Let dry for only a few minutes then peel off the heart.
- Let dry over night.
Pretty cool right? We had so much fun, just hearing the giggles that emanated from my son was enough to do this again and again!
Check out the other creative uses for paper bags at Tinker Lab.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut out your pictures and using double stick tape stick them to some of the paper hearts.
- Add them to a container with the silk flowers.
- Add a toddler. She loved finding pictures of her brother as a baby the most.
- 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.
- 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.
I have been meaning to make an easy bird feeder with my son for ages, but the problem was all the ones I knew or have done in the past used peanut butter. My son isn’t allergic but he is completely repulsed by the smell. So when I found this one on Pinterest and saw that it uses gelatin I squealed ( yes really) and added gelatin to my grocery list immediately. We had some left over gelatin so we made some yummy all natural gummy treats too. Two easy heart shaped treats made with 1 box of gelatin, that’s rad!
- We doubled the recipe that Bargin Hoot uses here. And instead of cookie cutters we used a silicon mold .
- They had fun mixing .I had fun vacuuming after. But it’s easier to vacuum bird seed up than try to sweep it, those little seeds roll and hurt to step on!
- Press into the mold. We filled it halfway popped our string in then filled it up.
- A few hours later – voila!
We put them in the apple trees in the front yard, the pine trees in the back and some random bushes too . Clearly I am not a gardener. Since we hung them up we have gone outside every day to see which ones have had birds nibble away at them. It’s been fun to see my son concerned about the birds and I think the hearts add some natural sparkle to our wintery yard. Just today we noticed the birds ( or perhaps raccoons?) already have a favorite. We will continue to observe them in the upcoming weeks.
After we hung those up we noticed a recipe on the back of the Knox Gelatin box , adjusted it for our serving size and made some heart jellies! Why haven’t we been making these for years? My son loved helping me make them and I loved that there are no artificial colors like the store bought gelatin desserts.
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 envelopes of gelatin, 1/2 cup of cold juice, 1.5 cups of juice brought to a boil and a dash of sugar. You will also need a heart cookie cutter, a sauce pan , casserole dish( ours is 8x8x2) a spoon and a big bowl for mixing.
- Pour the cold juice into the bowl and drizzle the gelatin on.
- Boil the other juice.
- Pour into the bowl and mix . I added just a dash of sugar since the juice we used was already low sugar. I had my son gently mix and I got the bottom bits. Once dissolved let cool for 2-3 hours.
- Using the cookie cutter make heart shapes.
- He loved the leftovers!
Note about the juices we used – we used mostly natural lemonade with just enough natural strawberry kiwi to make it red. Any juice will work though, I may hit up the natural market for some pomegranate juice before Valentine’s Day.
My son loved the 3D Word Search I made him a while back so when I saw that the dollar store had pink and purple foam letters I grabbed a few packs and headed home to make another for him. The great thing about this activity is that it incorporates different senses . Kids can see and feel the letters that make up the words. I kept the words easy to find by making them all a uniform color for my beginning reader but make it as tricky as you want. Also even if your child isn’t reading you can still make this , just turn it into a letter search .
- Gather your materials. You will need a canvas or other stiff cardboard base, contact paper, foam letter stickers , scissors and a marker. Depending on which contact paper you get you will want to either use a dry erase marker or a regular washable maker if you want to use the word search as a write and wipe surface. I bought a new type of contact paper this week and dry erase is a pain to wipe off it, but washable markers do great with a baby wipe. If you want this to be a one time only activity you can skip the contact paper and just add the letters to some construction paper.
- Cover the canvas with contact paper- this makes the surface wipe able.
- Add your words. I tried my best to stay lined up but I never worry about it being exactly perfect. I took words from classic conversation hearts but you can do any thing , even names of people you love. I find it easiest to add one row vertically and one horizontally first then fill the columns in .
- Write the words out on some paper .
- Add a marker and a kid and watch them amaze you with their skills! As my son was doing this I noticed he touched the letters, squished them and traced a few with his hand. My cuddly guy ( he’ll hate that I said that in a year or two) seems to have a real need for kinesthetic elements in his lessons.
- I also noticed how he was holding his marker, after I took these pictures. He has a natural tendency to twist his wrist like that for cutting but it’s the first time I have witnessed it for writing. Not sure if it was just because of the raised letters but I am going to watch him much closer … Any tips of correcting this ? Experience with this particular tendency? I am going to have him write on the wall more ( forces proper grip) but if you have any other awesome ideas please share !