Easy Valentine’s Day Chalkboards

easy valentine's day chalkboardsWe 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.

  1. 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. easy heart shaped chalk board valentine gift for kids
  2. Start by painting your hearts. easy DIY heart shaped chalkboardI 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. easy and cheap valentine's day gift for kids
  3. 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. easy DIY heart chalk board
  4. Time to write ! I tested it out first to make sure it would erase well. It did. easy heart shaped blackboardsThen  let my little ones go for it.easy peasey heart shaped chalk boards 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. easy heart shaped chaolk boards
  5. 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. easy heart shaped chalk boards for valentine's day

Books About Love

14 books about love for kids

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.

14 Books About Love

14 books about love for kidsValentine’s Day at our house isn’t about mom and dad getting dressed up and going out for a nice dinner (although maybe it will be again soon! ) instead we celebrate it as a family and talk about love, friendship and respect.  These 14 picture books are about all kinds of love. Romantic, platonic and lots of love you find in families. Some of these may not even seem like books about love but dig a littler deeper and you’ll see they are… or at least I think they are. These are some of my very favorite picture books and I hope you love them too.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.

owen and mzee

Best Friends (Owen And Mzee) by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff is a board book with real photographs of the friendship of orphaned baby hippo and his 130 year old adoptive tortoise named Mzee. The text is simple and perfect for toddlers, although older children will better understand how amazing the story is. There are so many learning opportunities between these pages from the Tsunami, to learning about hippos and tortoises. The real lesson though is about friendship and I like that it shows animals being affectionate , something rare to see and something that can help foster a true appreciation for animals in young kids.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide is such a fantastic ( and funny) fairytale about a little princess who has a very odd problem. She can’t keep her feet on the ground so her parents worried that she will literally float away weigh her down. The problem with being weighed down is that she can’t be herself and one day when she is set free to float she discovers that that is who she is. The only problem left is how does she get down? Luckily a little boy with a big heart and a kite comes to help . He’s not a rescuer coming to fix everything simply a true friend helping . His quiet actions teaches more about love than any grand romantic gesture. I love this book and the messages of breaking free from your limitations and of being yourself while staying connected to those you love.


Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse is a well loved book. I have read it many times but never reviewed it. There are a lot of books about children testing their mom’s unconditional love but this one stands out for me. In it the little girl seems to go out of her way to aggravate her mom and really test her love. The mother is fantastic because she isn’t gushy or sickeningly sweet, she says she would get angry , worried, sad depending on what her daughter tests her with. However after each honest answer she follows it up with how she will always love her. Kids need to know even if they make us sad or angry it doesn’t change the depth of our love for them.

Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan is a very practical yet heartwarming look at all the ways parents show love to their children everyday, from feeding them healthy food to praying after they go to bed. My son loved all the big boy things in the book like, the school bus, basketball and the playground. I teared up reading the book, but I cry at American Idol so that may not be indicative of anything!

books about love

Henry in Love by Peter McCarty is a sweet book that will transport you back to your elementary school crushes but it won’t just appeal to the adults it’s got plenty for the little ones too. Henry has a crush on Chloe although all that is every really said is that he thinks she is lovely. The best part is that Chloe seems to like him back.  This book can teach children a lot about interpreting people’s actions to explain feelings. Simple but expressive illustrations give subtle clues that give great opportunities for conversations about what it means to love not just to feel love.

I love you stinky face

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt is a wonderful mushy book that will still appeal to kids that aren’t so into mush. A little boy in his PJs asks his mom if she will still love him even if he was a series of terrible monsters. It reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up.

 

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is perhaps the classic tear jerking picture book. I read this for years and years to children and had no problem getting choked up, it never bothered me, then I gave birth and I can’t read it without sobbing. The premise is simple, a mom sings this simple song to her son as he grows ” I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living , my baby you’ll be.” until she can’t sing it anymore and it’s his turn. For days after I read this I tear up as I lay my son in his crib. * Edited to add that many readers have commented that they do not like this book at all! What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us!

The I LOVE YOU Book Kids need to know that love is unconditional and this book drives that point home is a simple , bright and funny way. I cried through reading most of it , but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically loved that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add on to a shape activity about hearts.

kishand2

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

tango

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in central park zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but definitely liked each other. When the zoo keepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time they were sad until they were given an egg to care for. Just like all families love and care is what matters when creating a family and baby Tango and his two daddies have thrived . My son loved this book and asked me to please go see the penguins when I was in NYC. I didn’t have time to but I wish I had. Their story simplifies a very debated topic and I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family even for penguins.

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that makes me cry just when I think of it. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s not sad. It’s about a little boy who is acting up and gets sent to his room. While in his room his imagination runs wild and he is transported to a world where there are no rules , no parents and no consequences for bad behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild. I think this is an amazing love story about parents and children and unconditional love.

tough stuff 6

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!

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Simple Heart Craft for Toddlers

simple valentine's day craft for toddlersThis 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 !

  1. 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.toddler valentines day craft
  2. Start by cutting your coffee filters but folding them. toddler valentines day craft bI love using pinking shears because they make it that much prettier.toddler craft for valentines day
  3. Time to color. My daughter did dots but go wild any design will work. Make sure kids know that their designs will change.toddler craft for valentines day s
  4. My daughter colored a bunch .toddler heart craft for valentines day 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.toddler heart craft
  5. Add water! toddler heart craft for valentines dayTalk 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.toddler hearts craft
  6. Let dry .
  7. 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 ;) toddler heart craft 55
  8. Add tape and ribbon.toddler heart craft for kids
  9. 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.toddlers heart craft for kids

Easy Kid Designed Valentines

easy calssroom valentinesMy son is in kindergarten and his teacher asked for each kid to address and sign each valentine for their class.  I think this is great because it is great real world aka purposeful writing for this age group. Little store bought valentines are usually well little and hard to fit kindergarten sized hand writing in without major frustration and potential set backs in confidence of their writing ability. I wasn’t planning on posting this but when I saw how into it my son was I knew others might benefit.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some graphics program – I use picmonkey.com It’s easy to use ( I barely helped my son after giving him a quick tour).  If you are going to print it out on regular printer paper like we did you may also want some construction paper and glue to make a backing. You will also want a class list and a sharp pencil with eraser.
  2. Start by playing around with picmonkey deciding on the design. I showed my son options and he chose the font, did most of the typing and moving the items around the page. * Disclaimer this picture is a recreation of the real events. We did this last night in a dark living room while my youngest and husband cleaned up after dinner. He’s actually admiring a picture of himself on pinterest… but you get the idea! kid designed valentines for friends
  3. This is his design.kid designed valentine
  4. Print. I printed ours at a 3.5×5 size 4 to a page.
  5. Glued them on the construction paper and cut them out.  kid designed valentine cardsSet them out with the class list and invited him to choose 4-5 friends to write them to. I like doing them in batches because it makes the task manageable. Writing is hard and I think because we do it so effortlessly we forget how much effort it once took us. Do it in little bits and it will be much easier. My son loved designing these and with a bunch of birthday parties coming up he can’t wait to make more . Kid Designed Valentines

 

Love Potions – Valentine’s Day Science Play

love potions valentine's day scienceWe love to play with vinegar and baking soda at our house . We explored it with squirt guns, at a play date and even pretending to be mad scientists. This time we made potions but really we just made a really awesome fun mess!   We made these after school this week and already my 2 year old has asked to make so many I am out of vinegar and baking soda. Kids love to pretend and mixing imagination with scientific inquiry is a great way to get them interested in asking questions and testing their theories out. We pretended we were making love potions but not the way that maybe a teenager would think about it. Instead we were making potions to make everyone feel loved, not to fall in love with us and even that fell by the wayside . Bottom line, have fun and make sure you have towels ready!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some baking soda, vinegar and then we added  food color and food flavoring ( strawberry and cherry) . You will want clear containers, spoons, and whatever you need to protect your house from food color. love potions preschool scrience play
  2. Set out the ingredients and let them explore. While they started I talked about how some people think that potions and spells will make people fall in love and they both thought that was crazy talk! We pretended we were making people feel love but soon they just got into making a potion and the love bit was lost. This is fine the goal wasn’t to teach about love potions so much as simply explore. love potions science for kids valentine's day activity
  3. My son saw the baking soda and immediately got excited about the prospect of a fizzy overflowing potion. Only he couldn’t remember what made it bubble and discovered it was not the cherry flavoring.love potions for kids
  4. My daughter followed her brother’s lead and absolutely adored every minute. love potion science play activity for kids
  5. Once they figured out it was the vinegar they made potions over and over.love potions  In all different color combinations and with as much excitement every time. love potions 2It soon turned into making predictions about if it would overflow or not. love potion number 5