Dinner Conversation Hearts – Family Meal Activity

conversation hearts dinner time activity for familiesDinner 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!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some foam hearts in various colors ( dollar store!), a red marker, pen, ribbon and clothes pins.conversation hearts at dinner activity for families
  2. Start by writing the classic conversation hearts sayings all in uppercase letters on your hearts.dinner conversation hearts
  3. Next write out interesting and conversation provoking questions on the opposite side.  No yes or no questions!dinner conversation hearts questions
  4. 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.dinner conversation hearts activity for families
  5. At dinner have a child choose a heart and read both sides. dinner conversation hearts activityWe went around in a circle giving our answers and letting others comment and ask questions about each answer.conversation hearts dinner talks
  6. 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.conversation hearts dinner conversation starters

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?

 

 

Valentine’s Day Rainbow Wall

valentine heart muralWe needed some extra happy cheer in our playroom after a week of cold, gloomy weather. My kids had fun making something cheerful for their playroom while working on fine motor skills, color recognition and counting. Oh and cooperative projects like these were always the very first thing I’d set up for my class ( and now my kids) when bickering started popping up. Working together has a great way of allowing them to work out their differences and feel like a team again.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( or craft paper with double stick tape ) , many sheets of all different color paper, a heart punch, and markers in every color of the rainbow.valentine's day rainbow craft
  2. Start by pinning the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. I prefer contact paper because it allows kids to change where they put a heart if they don’t like their original placement. I pop the paper on with the backing still on then peel. I find it way easier than putting in on with the sticky already exposed. valentines day rainbow
  3. Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching . valentine's day rainbow craft mural
  4. Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.valentine rainbow mural
  5. Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.valentine's day rainbow activity for kids
  6. Let them at it.valentines' day color matching activity for toddlersMy daughter liked taking her time finding the exact right spot for each heart. My son liked gathering a handful of one color and adding them on in a bunch.valentines' day heart mural for kids Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.valentines' day heart mural for cooperative play
  7. My daughter fizzled out about half way through, if I was making this for just toddlers I’d make a much much smaller rainbow and maybe larger hearts as well. My son and I had a race to see which colors could be filled in first. I was reminded how much I love just working on something like this with my kids. It really does make you feel more like a team and is by far the number one reason we do projects together. He counted each color to see which won and noticed that of course the first few colors would have more than the last few. I love it when learning like that comes so naturally in a self directed way.valentine's day heart mural counting
  8. All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down. Valentine's day heart mural for preschool

Paper Hearts – Crafts & Activities

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.

 

Shake Painted Valentine

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!

  1. 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.Shake Painted Heart
  2. Punch out some hearts from construction paper.
  3. Place them and paint in the food container. shake painted heartIt’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.shake painted hearts
  4. Put the top on and shake.shake painted hearts
  5. Open and be amazed! shake painted hearts
  6. Fold the card stock and add glue .shake painted hearts
  7. Add hearts to glue and let dry. After seeing how cool the hearts looked someone else wanted in on the fun. shake painted hearts

Heart Patterns

paper heart patterns for math

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about arts and crafts, we love math and made this super easy patterning activity.

  1. 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.
  2. Start by taping the paper down on the cookie sheet and adding double stick tape to the hearts. Heart Patterns
  3. 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. Heart Patterns
  4. 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.heart patterns
  5. 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

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.

 

Love Bomb Valentine’s Day Craft

Valentine's Day Crafts for kids

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Start by cutting your scrap paper into small pieces. We used scissors and a hole punch.
  3. Pop them in the bags. We made 3 bags with a handful of confetti in each.
  4. Make a heart with contact paper.
  5. 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!
  6. Time for some confetti explosions, you might want to do this outside.
  7. 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.
  8. Smack it as hard as you can. It took us a few tries and we practiced earlier.
  9. Bam! Some of the confetti will fly out but you still have to give it a little shake to get it all.
  10. 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.
  11. Let dry over night.

love bomb

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.

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.