As a mom and former kindergarten teacher, I've always loved Valentine's Day and the fun activities to do with kids.
When shopping the day after Christmas, I saw employees putting out Valentine's Day merchandise, making me realize how this once simple holiday is now big business. Sadly, the commercialism leads to cynicism, causing some people (especially men) to resent the pressure put on them to extend extravagant love, devotion, and cash on this one day.
As a mom and teacher, I encourage kids to push back against our culture that says spending will make us feel happy and loved. I urge them to celebrate this holiday by spending time with family and friends doing activities together. Here are 10 fun things to do with your kids for Valentine's Day:
1. Make Your Own Valentine's Day Cards
Too many harried parents wait until the night before Valentine's Day and rush out to buy a package of Valentine's Day cards at the store. Then their kids sit down at the kitchen table and write their names on each card, whining and complaining the entire time: "My hand hurts! This is so boring!" Where's the joy? Where's the creativity? Where are those happy feelings that come about when you're doing something nice for someone?
With my sons were little, they made their valentines well in advance so it was fun and lighthearted. I'd grab what we had on hand—construction paper, glitter, stickers, crayons, doilies, lace—and put it all on the table. Then I stepped back and let them create with full autonomy. They loved doing it and their valentines turned out truly unique. When they were too young to write their names, they'd glue a little photo of themselves in the middle. So cute!
2. Learn a Poem About Kindness
Reciting poetry together is a fantastic way to promote phonological awareness, build vocabulary, and teach imagery. Here's a poem my boys and I would say together during the month of February. I wanted them to understand that Valentine's Day is not only about chocolates, love, and flowers but also about showing kindness to family and friends. They liked this poem so much they started saying it throughout the entire year when someone needed extra TLC at home or at school.
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
There's no better way to teach kids about Valentine's Day than by reading books together. Check out some from the library or build your own collection at home. There are some written especially for the holiday with favorite characters such as Clifford, Franklin, and Arthur. There are also regular books with themes such as love, kindness, and friendship that relate well to the day.
4. Complete the Sentence: I Love My Family Because...
Ask your child why she loves various family members (immediate and extended) and write down her responses. Post her comments on the refrigerator or read them aloud at dinner. This is a wonderful way to strengthen the reading-writing connection in a meaningful way. If you want to extend the activity, have your child write her remarks in cards to give to each family member. Grandparents especially like this!
5. Make Art With Hearts
Children in schools today do far too many teacher-directed crafts, copying a teacher's sample in a step-by-step way. This does little or nothing to stimulate their imaginations, promote their independence, and get them to love the creative process. This project with hearts is a wonderful example of open-ended art, letting kids express themselves in all their uniqueness.
Cut out hearts of various colors and sizes (older kids can do their own). Let the youngsters make something concrete or abstract by gluing the hearts to a piece of construction paper. Have them use crayons or markers to create a background. Don't provide a sample because this stifles their creativity. Kids have unlimited imaginations when they're given the opportunity.
6. Sing a Song About Love
Here's a cute little ditty to teach your kids in February. Add motions to make it even more fun.
Song: 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).
7. Make a Coupon Book for Someone You Love
Before Valentine's Day, my sons and I would sit down and create a coupon book for their dad. The boys would come up with ideas that would show their love for their father by helping him around the house. They might include washing his car, shoveling the driveway, making him a snack, and vacuuming his office. When my husband wanted one of these tasks done, he'd just rip a coupon from the book and give it to the boys. This taught my sons that actions are more meaningful than a store-bought gift.
8. 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 her sort them according to their message. What message has the most, the least?
9. 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!
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 got 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.
This Book Motivated Me to Establish Traditions in My Family
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. This book has great ideas for setting up traditions that make your life more meaningful, your family closer, and your holidays more memorable.
© 2017 McKenna Meyers
McKenna Meyers (author) on January 17, 2017:
Thanks, Britt. You made my day.
Britt Bogan on January 17, 2017:
Hey! This is a wonderfully formatted, specific, and generally delightful article. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. :D