Valentine's Day is a time for colorful cards, bits of lace and ribbon, and delicious heart-shaped treats. Our children exchange cards with their classmates, get bright red tongues from heart-shaped suckers, and maybe decorate a sugar cookie or two. In the midst of all the crafts and sugar are some wonderful opportunities for learning. Since Valentine's Day is a family affair for most parents, why not have some fun playing and learning with your kids?
Here are some activities to make the most of your family Valentine's Day party:
Family Mail Boxes
Flash back to the third grade, and start saving your empty oatmeal and cereal containers. Grab some construction paper and the glue, and decorate up a storm. If you're not crafty, simple envelopes will do. Write the name of each member of your family on separate "valentine mail boxes." Make sure to write neatly and to only capitalize the first letter! When it is time to deliver their valentines, your children will get to practice their name- and letter-recognition skills as they try to deliver their cards into the correct mail boxes.
Be Mine Valentine
Helping your child create valentines is so much more than glitter and glue. While your child makes a mess of your dining room table, he is developing valuable fine motor skills. Encourage usage of glue, scissors, stickers, and a variety of drawing utensils like crayons, markers, and colored pencils.
Next, work with your child to label or address each valentine. Valentines are a great way to sneak in some writing practice! Younger children may trace the names or follow a provided example (like the mail boxes). Make sure your child signs each card as well!
Snuggles and a Story
I'm not sure if there's a better way to say "I love you" than with a good book. Cozy up on the couch together as a family and enjoy a great Valentine's Day-themed book. Here are some of my favorites:
The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine by Herman Parish
The Night Before Valentine's Day by Natasha Wing
A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger
Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
You're a Sweet Sweetheart
Every year, my kids seem to come home from school with at least a half a dozen boxes of conversation hearts. (I also may or may not be able to resist them at the grocery store -- especially now that they come in an alphabet version!) There are so many ways to learn with those addicting little hearts. Here are a few ideas:
? Sorting -- Have your little ones sort the hearts by color. Older children can sort the hearts by their phrases.
? Create a Message -- Older kids will enjoy trying to create a letter using the hearts. Using a mix of the hearts and their own words, kids will be able to come up with some wacky love letters.
? Make a graph! I developed a free printable graphing worksheet to use with conversation hearts. Estimate how many of each color will be in the package or work to see which color will have the most/least.
Have fun showing love to your kids this Valentine's Day as you learn and play together.