Category Archives: Valentines Day

Craft for Grandparents

My mom came to visit us a few weeks after Mother’s day, so I was saving J’s present for her as well as our present for her until then.  This was J’s gift to Ne’eNe’e (Grandma).  I printed the form as well as some colorful letter A’s and a picture of J and Ne’eNe’e together.  To be sure he placed the A’s in the correct spots, I drew a yellow dot where each A should be placed.  He glued those and the picture in place, colored the report card, and added some stickers at the end (I forgot to take a picture of his final product). 

I decided on the report card theme because my mom recently had to quit school and is disappointed that she wouldn’t have that 4.0 graduation she had been dreaming of.  A little reminder that she’s a straight A “student” in our books!

Age attempted: 25 months

Homemade Toy: Playing Mailman

I made a simple mailman activity for my niece to include in her 1 Year old Busy Box (check out #3 on the link).   At her level, it basically included the foam envelopes and a small metal mailbox.  She could open and close the mailbox, lift up the flag, and play the “In and Out” game that ALL 1 year olds seem to love!  I kept wanting to make something similar for J.

 I got the first mailbox at Michael’s Craft Store but haven’t been able to find them since so I decided to make one with a shoebox…  until I came across this mailbox in the Valentine’s clearance section at Target. 

It’s made of cardboard and opens and closes like normal on the side.  It also has a small slit at the top (originally to place valentine’s card inside).  Regular size foam fits perfectly in the slit on top.  I cut the foam envelopes according the the length of the slit and then labeled each with both a mailing and a return “address” and drew a stamp in the upper right. If you wanted, you could use real stickers and have your toddler place the stamp on each envelope. 

I’ve had this activity made for ever, but just brought it out this week.  I’m glad I waited.  Since the foam envelopes barely fit in the mailbox slit, it makes it an appropriately challenging activity for J’s current level.  He has to be very careful to get the foam inside the slit and then he has to work slowly to push the foam envelope down.  Since foam bends if he pushes too hard or moves to fast the long envelopes will just bend over the top of the mailbox instead of falling inside.  It was a GREAT fine motor skill activity for him. 

Lots of concentration going on!!

He got really frustrated at first.  Dad stepped in and showed him how to hold the envelope on the sides with both hands and SLOWLY push it into the mailbox.  From then on he loved it.  He stuck with it for awhile.  The fact that he had to focus so much and was, in the end, able to complete the task tells me he’s at the right developmental level for this.  I’m actually glad the slit was so small.  If I had made one myslef, I wouldn’t have made the slit that small which would’ve made it to easy for him. 

It can also act as a name recognition game… he can “deliver” the envelopes to the correct person (in this case, Mommy, Daddy, and J) or he can just stack them according to name.  When he’s older, I could add more recipients and J could sort them next to the recipients picture.   

He can of course also sort them by color, count the numbe of envelopes each person recieved (or according to color).

Age attempted: 25 months; a younger toddler can insert the mail through a larger slit or through the door on the mailbox.

Here’s the picture of my niece’s Mailman game

Why Didn’t I Think of That? Pencil Topper Stamps

Ok, so pencil topper stamps don’t sound all that impressive.  But for my 1 year old, they are the absolute coolest!

I originally bought some regular wooden stamps (I found on clearance) for J to try out.  I have never been brave enough to try them.  :)

So I happened across these pencil topper stamps at Target in their dollar section.  (By the way, it was genius for Target to add a dollar section!  The person who thought of that needs a huge raise!)

These stamps are perfect…. a perfect fit in J’s hand, easy to use (don’t require a separate ink pad, so they’re really no different than dot markers), colorful, and they have really cute designs.  J currently has 3 sets already (vehicles, valentines, and aliens/monsters).  There are six stamps in a set, so $1 brings more than enough enjoyment.  I keep my eyes open for more each time I go to Target.

I will say, I bought one set at Michael’s craft store (in their dollar section) that looked like they were made identically… but they are not!!  Three of the six fell apart immediately and the ones that worked didn’t last long.  They were awful.   So I’m sticking with the Target brand, every one of them still work after a ton of use. 

As for how to use them… I have no creativity here.  J loves just stamping away!  He also loves taking them out and returning them to the clear packaging they came in. Gotta love one year olds!

Age attempted:  around 14 or 15 months at first; he still loves them at 23 months

Teachable moments:  having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot (my personal teachable moment); J has learned that you only stamp on paper, not fingers, clothes, tables,…  and to have fun :)

Try again?  over and over and over

Melting Hearts

This activity was simple yet J had so much fun with it.  I froze some heart shaped ice cubes (made with green colored water the previous night.  I let him play with the melting ice cubes during bathtime on Valentines day.  The food coloring helps you keep track of the ice cubes a little easier, but it isn’t necessary.  It also colors the bath water as the ice cubes melt which was fun for J. 

I gave him a little shovel and he loved dipping the cube in and out of the bath, catching it as it swam around the water, watching it get smaller and smaller,…  They melt REALLY fast in the warm bath water so I also put a couple inside a clear cup for him to play with.  After our first attempt, I learned to give him just one icecube at a time.  This prolongs the activity and he can focus on the one ice cube. 

This ended up encourging a good science discussion to.  We discussed how different the cold ice felt compared to the warm bath water.  We talked about why the ice melted (got smaller) in the heat.  Fortunately we’ve also had a lot of melting snow around our house, so I could emphasize the fact that heat melts ice and snow throughout the subsequent week.  He now knows what melting means. 

22 months

Age attempted?  22 months; could be done younger and more in depth science discussed at an older age… or you could teach colors by melting red ice cubes and then

Try Again?  Yes

Adapt for older toddler/child? 

  •      I would focus more on the science aspect of this activity.
  •      Use this to teach colors by melting red ice cubes and then yellow ice cubes, discuss how they mix to create orange.  This might be good reiterate an earlier lesson since you could try out all color mixing in one night.

Heart Suncatcher

J made this for a friend serving in Iraq for Valentines day and yes it involves contact paper!  I think it might be my new favorite medium.  It’s perfect for a young toddler.   It is yet another form of the No Glue Collage; I love how there are endless possibilities with one purchase!

Preparation:  I cut 1″ squares of tissue paper (in this case pinks and flowers) and placed them in a bowl; I also layed a square piece of contact paper upside down on his work bench (aka the ottoman… since there’s no mess involved I know it won’t get ruined!) and kept a second square the same size nearby; as an extra step, I cut out a heart outline on construction paper

Activity:  J first placed the heart outline on the contact paper.  I wanted the edges to seal well and knew that this would help keep tissue from overlapping towards the edge.  Then he placed the tissue squares inside the heart.  It was actually a good lesson for him to learn inside and outside the lines, to control where he placed the tissue and to fill the entire heart.  When he was content, I covered the entire thing with my second piece of contact paper and cut out the heart.  I punched a hole in the heart and J thread some yarn through the hole. 

I held it up to a window and showed him how the light shines through, mentioning translucent (though it’s quite a big word for a little boy!).  Later when dad came home, he was excited to show him how to make the heart shine!

  

Age?  22 months, could be done earlier

Try Again?  We do lots of No Glue Collages, so I’m sure similar versions will be repeated!

Visual Valentine

While I do believe J is the smartest little boy ever, I will admit that my one year old cannot yet read.  He’s oh so close though!  He picks up any book and proceeds to read it aloud to mommy/daddy/the nearest stuffed animal.  Ok, his “reading” consists of repeating “Bible, Bible, Bible” or “babeedoody neyno nee A-A-O-O-A”, but that’s means he’s close right!?!?!

So until he masters phonics, I decided pictures would help him understand the messages he (ok Mommy) is sending to Grandma R for Valentines day.  Of course Grandma loves to get pictures too, so she won’t mind in the least! 

Beforehand I printed the pictures and cut out a sheet of contact paper, taping it sticky side up on the table.  He first placed the pictures on the contact paper.  We then wrote the message on construction paper and I cut out the words.  He stuck them on the contact paper next to the correct picture.  Then he decorated around it with extra hearts because he loves them lots and lots!!  Afterward I covered the whole project with clear contact paper. 

This is basically a No Glue Collage which I love since we’re still practicing the art of gluing so that takes longer. 

22 months

Age? 22 months but can be done earlier/later

Try Again?  We will try more No Glue Collages, I’m sure!