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.

 

Natural Valentine’s Day Crafts

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!

  1. We doubled the recipe that Bargin Hoot  uses here.  And instead of cookie cutters we used a silicon mold .
  2. 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!
  3. Press into the mold. We filled it halfway popped our string in then filled it up.
  4. A few hours later – voila!

The best part of this activity wasn’t making it was finding the right spots in our yard to place them.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Pour the cold juice into the bowl and drizzle the gelatin on.
  3. Boil the other juice.
  4. 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.
  5. Using the cookie cutter make heart shapes.
  6. 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.

 

Giant Valentine’s Word Search

valentine's day word search

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 .

  1. 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. 
  2. Cover the canvas with contact paper- this makes the surface wipe able.
  3. 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 .
  4. Write the words out on some paper .
  5. 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.
  6.  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 !

 

 

Semi Handmade Valentines

I love making handmade Valentines for people and my son and I didn’t see eye to eye about this at first. He wanted to hand out Toy Story Valentines he saw at Target and I wanted him to make them himself for his classmates. Well… this was our compromise which will likely become a tradition. It satisfies his need for characters but still serves the purpose of making custom Valentines for each of his friends. Each was made with the friend in mind which was time consuming but thrilling to see him put that much thought into it. Honestly I don’t know if the stars just aligned , but he loved this craft. We even left the kitchen table as our ” Valentine” factory so we can make more today.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper, some store bought valentines ( whatever your little on begged you for), heart stickers, scissors, paint,  glitter ( Come on it’s Valentine’s day let them have glitter !! ), colored pencils and anything else to make them fun and sparkly. 
  2. Start by cutting the construction paper into hearts. Ours are not the most perfect but as you will see they still end up beautiful.
  3. Time to customize!  We started with paint.
  4. Used colored pencils.
  5. Glitter
  6. The works! No two were the same. Yes we made a mess but it was so fun. 
  7. Choose which character valentine each recipient will like the best.
  8. We originally made them like this with the store bought valentine on the back but most ended up with it on the front and my son used the whole back to write his name. If you follow me you know how I have been trying to encourage his writing and I didn’t even ask him to do it, he grabbed the pencil and started all on his own.
  9. Oh and for those of you who ask how I manage crafts while my little one is awake …
  10. This picture isn’t really a “step” in the tutorial but it captures how much fun we had, which is really the whole point of this blog!

Don’t miss this. CBS Los Angeles featured our Heart Shaped Pizza on their site . We are making those again for our Valentine’s Day meal. Do you make something special for your kids’ dinner on Valentine’s Day?

Puffy Heart Wreath

I love wreaths almost as much as I love garlands! This Valentine’s Day craft is fun ,  easy to make and easy on your wallet. The foam hearts are super light and I was able to tape the wreath to a door in our house using only blue painters tape . Also if you want you can turn it into a patterning lesson as well or just randomly glue the hearts on.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, glue, foam heart picks ( got mine 9 for a dollar at the dollar store), red markers and scissors. 
  2. Start by coloring the paper plate with markers. We used red but use whatever color your child wants to.
  3. Start by having your child pull the tops off the heart picks. I twisted them so they were easier to pop off. This step was really fun.
  4. While they do that cut the middle out.
  5. Add a lot of glue. If you don’t normally let your child do the glue because they use too much, let them with this one. You need a lot of glue so let them at it!
  6. Add your hearts.  Randomly or in a pattern. I just let him do it however he wanted and he quickly settled on a pattern and sang it out as he added it. You can also sneak counting in here if you want.
  7. Let dry.