As a mom and former kindergarten teacher, I've always loved Valentine's Day and creating fun activities to do with kids.
Express Love Through Actions
When shoppers go bargain hunting the day after New Year's, they come across a familiar sight: store employees stocking shelves with boxes of candy, stuffed animals, and cards for Valentine’s Day. The February 14th holiday, once a low-key occasion to acknowledge our loved ones, has transformed into an overblown, commercialized event with lots of merchandise connected to it. Today, folks feel pressured to go big on this occasion or face their partner’s anger and disappointment.
Instead of showing their kids that big bucks must be spent, parents should keep this day simple and pure. Youngsters should know that love is best expressed through their actions—not through their wallets. With this in mind, here are 10 fun and easy activities that families can do together to celebrate Valentine’s Day to make it about memories and not money.
10 Fun Things to Do With Kids on Valentine's Day
- Create homemade cards.
- Learn a poem about kindness.
- Read Valentine's Day books.
- Explain why you love your family.
- Create art with hearts.
- Make a coupon book.
- Sort conversation hearts.
- Make groovy smoothies.
- Sing a song about love.
- Watch movies about love.
1. Create Homemade Cards
It’s understandable that some harried parents rush out the night before Valentine’s Day to purchase a box of cards for their kids to hand out at school the next day. Yet, when they sit their youngsters down to write their names on each one, it’s predictably going to be an ordeal for them. These little ones will whine and complain: "My hand hurts! This is boring! When can I stop?"
By not preparing in advance for Valentine’s Day, these moms and dads turn a happy holiday into a miserable one. They rob their kids of an opportunity to express their love through their actions and through their creativity. They suffocate the joy that comes when doing something kind for others.
The good news, though, is that parents can alter this dreaded routine with little expense and effort. They just need to visit their local Dollar Store and stock up on materials that their kids can use to create homemade Valentine’s Day cards each year. They can keep these supplies in a cupboard and pull them out a week or two before February 14th, giving their kids ample time to make cards when they’re feeling motivated and inspired.
- Construction paper
- Tissue paper
- Crayons, markers, colored pencils, and watercolor paints
- Glitter, sequins, and stickers
- Glue sticks
Parents should then step back and let their kids create with full autonomy, letting their cards be truly unique and a reflection of themselves. When they’re too young to write their names, they can instead glue a little photo of themselves on the cards as seen in the photo above.
2. Learn a Poem About Kindness
When parents recite poetry with their children, they promote their phonological awareness, expand their vocabularies, and teach them about imagery. The following poem is a fun one to learn during the month of February. It teaches kids that Valentine's Day is not only about chocolates, love, and flowers but also about showing kindness to family and friends. Moreover, it can be recited throughout the entire year whenever anyone needs extra tender loving care at home or at school. Add some gestures to it, making it more dramatic and easier to remember.
You can make someone feel better
When you show it with a smile.
You can put it in a letter
And send it 'cross the miles.
You can show it with some kisses.
You can show it with a squeeze.
You can show it with good wishes.
You can show it saying “please.”
Kindness comes around again.
Just show some now and then!
3. Read Valentine's Day Books
It can’t be said enough that parents should plan in advance and start celebrating Valentine’s Day with their kids long before February 14th. The best and easiest way is to read books that teach about the holiday. Set aside special time to cuddle in bed and read. Sit by a roaring fire and read, or go to the library and read. Check out books while you’re there or build your own collection at home.
Some popular children’s series such as Clifford, Curious George, Franklin, the Berenstain Bears, and Arthur have special Valentine’s day stories. There are also books, while not specifically focused on the holiday, that explore themes of love, kindness, and friendship. They’re terrific tools for jump-starting conversations about being a good pal, showing empathy and compassion, and expressing one’s emotions.
4. Explain Why You Love Your Family
One of the more meaningful activities that parents can do before Valentine’s Day is to ask their child why they love various people in their family, both immediate and extended members. Moms and dads should write down their responses and then post them on the refrigerator or read them aloud at dinner. This is a wonderful way to strengthen the all-important reading-writing connection. To extend this activity, parents can have their youngster write these remarks in cards and present them to the family members. Grandparents cherish these messages more than any store-bought gift.
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5. Create Art With Hearts
Today, our youngsters do far too many teacher-directed crafts at school. This simply means that their teacher shows them a sample that she’s made and they copy it. These projects wind up all looking the same and do nothing to stimulate the children’s imaginations, promote their independence, or get them excited about the creative process. While they look impressive on bulletin boards, these projects don’t reflect the uniqueness of each youngster.
Open-ended art, on the other hand, lets kids express themselves through their creations. The process of making art is valued more than the finished product. The activity below represents an open-ended Valentine’s Day project for kids to do at home.
- Cut out hearts of various colors and sizes from construction paper, tissue paper, scrapbooking paper, old magazines, and old greeting cards (older kids can do this by themselves).
- Let the youngsters make something concrete (a dog, a mouse, a monster) or abstract (collage-like) by gluing the hearts to a piece of white construction paper.
- Then, have them use crayons, markers, and colored pencils to add details and create a background.
Tip: Don't provide a sample. A sample only limits the possibilities and stifles their creativity.
This video shows another example of open-ended art: making an easy heart-shaped collage with tissue paper.
6. Make a Coupon Book
Before Valentine's Day, help your child make a coupon book for someone they love, admire, and appreciate. It could be their mom, their dad, their grandparents, or a sibling. Here’s how to do it:
- Brainstorm ways that your youngster can show love for this person. If your child, for example, wants to show appreciation for Dad, they may offer up ideas such as washing his car, shoveling the driveway, making him a snack, painting him a picture, or vacuuming his office.
- Have the child write each item on a piece of paper with a corresponding drawing. Ten pages is a good amount for a coupon book.
- Design a cover page. You might title it something such as: Dad’s Valentine’s Day Coupon Book.
- Then staple the pages together. When their dad wants one of these tasks done, he rips a coupon from the book and presents it to the youngster.
*A coupon book is a terrific way for kids to learn that doing kind things for someone means a whole lot more than simply buying them a present. It’s also a valuable tool for teaching kids about being responsible and following through with completing their promises.
7. Sort Conversation Hearts
Sorting is an important early math skill and conversation hearts are ideal for promoting it. Buy a bag or box at the store and have your child sort them according to color. What color has the most, the least? Then have them sort according to their messages. What message has the most, the least?
8. Make Groovy Smoothies
Making a Groovy Smoothie is a fun way to celebrate Valentine's Day and kids can do it by themselves.
- 2 ripe small bananas
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened whole strawberries
- 1 8-ounces carton vanilla low-fat yogurt
- 3/4 cup milk
- Remove the peel from the bananas (compost)! Using the table knife, cut the bananas into chunks.
- Put banana chunks, frozen strawberries, yogurt, and milk into the blender container.
- Cover blender with the lid and blend on high speed about 1 minute or until mixture is smooth. Turn off the blender. Pour drink into 2 glasses. Use rubber scraper to get all the drink out of the blender. Enjoy!
This video teaches a Valentine's Day song that's easy to learn.
9. Sing a Song About Love
Here's a cute little ditty to teach kids in February. Add motions to make it even more fun and lively.
"Love Is Something Special If You Give It Away"
Love is something special if you give it away, give it away, give it away.
Love is something special if you give it away.
You end up having more. (Fold hands in X over your body. Then open and extend upward)
It's just like a magic penny.
Hold it tight and you won't have any.
But lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many.
They'll roll all over the floor (pretend to pennies on the floor).
10. Watch Movies About Love
Valentine's Day is a terrific time to teach children about all kinds of love, not just romantic love. Here are some classic movies that celebrate that feeling in unique and magnificent ways.
- Charlotte's Web (animated version, 1973): This charming musical stands the test of time and tells the enchanting tale of the loving but unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider.
- Mrs. Doubtfire (comedy, 1993): Robin Williams is a tour de force in the title role. This movie is about a father's powerful love for his kids and how he'll go to outrageous lengths to spend time with them.
- E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (science fiction, 1982): This blockbuster, directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of an ordinary family and a strangely adorable alien who becomes a part of their lives and hearts.
- Beauty and the Beast (animated musical, 1991): the feisty heroine of the film sees through a harsh and hideous package to find a beautiful soul and true love.
There's more and more research coming out that shows the value of rituals. I found that the holidays were the best time to establish these. The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day has great ideas for setting up traditions that make your life more meaningful, your family closer, and your holidays more memorable.
© 2017 McKenna Meyers