“Jesus Loves Me” & Valentines

We did a lot to get ready for Valentine’s Day so I shouldn’t have been surprised when this morning on the actual holiday, the girls wanted to do Valentine’s Day things.  We had the activities from my previous Valentine post, but they wanted something different.  Thinking of the idea of Valentine’s Day, love, I decided to quick go with a Jesus Loves Me theme for today.  We did some quick, easy crafts, and sang the song A LOT.  🙂

Skills: religion, art, music, letter recognition, shape recognition
Prep: low
Supplies: Paper, crayons, glue, ribbon,

We sang “Jesus Loves Me” quite a bit today.  The girls really liked it, especially since they could sing along pretty easily.  You can find lyrics and the tune here.  We also colored mini-books about the song that I found here.

We then made these very easy door decorations that I found at here at DLTK (a great website).  The plan was for Mia and Zoe to color the pieces and add the foam hearts to it.  However, the girls had other ideas.  I had them practice cutting scrap paper with safety scissors while I cut out the craft pieces.  They got so caught up with their scissors and then gluing on the pieces that they refused to do anymore coloring.  Maybe later…  And hopefully yours will look a little brighter and more colorful.

When the girls wake up from their nap, we are doing a heart scavenger hunt that I found here.  I’m having the girls use the hearts they find to make Valentines for each other.

By the way, here is what Mia moved on to after her door hanger, since she just couldn’t get enough pasting paper.  Luckily I had a few things like this on hand so she could keep going.

City Dog, Country Frog

Talking about loss with a little one can be very hard.  This picture book by Mo Willems is very simple but very powerful and a good way to prepare a young child to say good-bye to a loved one.  It tells the story of a city dog making friends with a frog out in the country.  Each season they do something different–frog games, dog games, and remembering games. Then in the winter the frog is gone, leaving the dog to eventually meet a chipmunk in the spring.  The beautiful watercolor pictures really capture each season both literally and metaphorically.  The text is subtle but opens the door for the discussion of losing someone you love–a family member passing away, a dog dying, a friend moving away.  I’ll be honest, I still cry sometimes when reading City Dog, Country Frog, because it captures the cycle of a relationship so well, especially the winter of grieving and the spring of moving on while keeping their memory alive.

Valentine’s Day Fun

We love holidays so of course we are celebrating Valentine’s Day!  The girls made Valentines for their friends and yesterday we hosted a party for our playgroup.  In addition to some crafts, we also practiced our letters and counting with some fun Valentine-themed activities.

Skills: art, letter recognition, counting
Prep: Medium

Supplies: Cardstock, stickers, foamies of hearts, pipe cleaners, construction paper, felt, file folder for game

Valentine Boxes Craft

For our playgroup party we made these cute little boxes for the kids to decorate.  My girls love carrying purses and I don’t think they are the only ones–it seems like most little kids love little things they can carry around and tuck treasurers in.  Thank you so much to my friend Kendra who made my idea of a little purse box come to life.  She offered to help cut out the boxes and ended up designing them, as well as doing the folding and cutting.  🙂

Using 12×12 cardstock, fold one side over about a quarter of an inch.  Keeping that piece folded, fold the now shorten paper into fourths.  These will be the four sides of the box.

Fold the bottom right corner in a triangle to make a right angle.  This is to find how deep to cut to make the bottom pieces of the box.  Cut along the fold along the triangle.  Cut the same depth on the other two fold lines that help make the four sides.  This cut should be about 2.75 inches, depending on how your folds work out.

Since we didn’t want the boxes to be 10 inches tall, we cut along the three main fold lines at the top to create pieces that will fold down to shorten the box and strengthen the sides.  We cut 3.25 inches down.  Then fold those flaps down and tape or glue them.
On the last column which also has the small folded piece along it’s edge, you need to cut into that small folded piece so that it meets where you will fold the flap down.  This will allow you to fold and tape the flap while not messing up the folded edge.

Next fold the paper back along those folds when you divided it into fourths and create a rectangular box shape.  That first little flap should connect with the other side of the paper.  Using a low-intensity glue gun, run glue along the edge of the first little quarter inch flap and attach it to the edge of the other side to make a box.

Now we need to seal up the bottom.  Take one of the flaps at the bottom and fold it down to start making the bottom of the box.  Put some glue on top of the flap and fold down the flap next to it.  Keep moving around the sides of the box, applying glue and folding down the piece.

The last step is to use a single hole puncher to punch a hole on either side of the box.  Then run a pipe cleaner through to make a handle.

Valentine Craft

We actually made these cute little Valentine people at the art class we attend through our Parks & Rec department.  They are super easy, just glueing different size hearts together to make a person.  We used paper clasps on the arms so they would twist and move.  And our art teacher hung them with elastic cord instead of a regular ribbon so that the kids could make them bounce.

Making Valentines

Of course we made Valentines.  When it comes to doing Valentines, I prefer the girls to make their own, especially at this age when they can’t write their names so there isn’t much for them to do with the store-bought ones.  But they have to be something easy to do since we make quite a few.  This year, I cut hearts out of pink cardstock (I used my cricut which makes life much easier).  Then Mia and Zoe decorated the hearts with stickers, foamies, and crayons.  They weren’t really into it at first so I showed the girls pictures of Valentines from some of the books we had been reading.  As soon as they looked at Fancy Nancy’s Valentines they got right to work making their own.  (Here’s Mia giving me a cheesy smile while making Valentines).  It was so cute to watch them pass them out at their playgroup party!

Learning Activities

To practice our letters, I made a file folder game found at File Folder Fun.  We are focus on letter recognition for capital letters, so I just printed out the first three pages twice.

We also did this really easy felt board story from A Child’s Place.  I just cut a bunch of hearts out of felt and wrote little Valentine messages on them.

Valentines, valentines, how many do I see?
Valentines, valentines, count them with me.
I have a red one, orange one, yellow one too.
I have a green one, purple one, and one that is blue.
I have a pink one, brown one, and one that is white.
And one last valentine as black as the night
Valentines, valentines, how many do I see?
Valentines, valentines, Count them with me!
Count them once, then we’ll count them again!
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Valentine’s Books

Here are some of our favorite books to read about Valentine’s Day this year. They really helped the girls get the idea of the holiday–showing those in your life that you appreciate them.

The girls really enjoy the Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy characters so they have been enjoying the Valentine books from these series. I really like that Fancy Nancy using such great vocabulary and in this book shows sisters being close. Pinkalicious is not always my favorite but the girls love her. This book does a good job showing that while things might not happen exactly as you think they should, sometimes that’s even better.

The Day It Rained Hearts
This book has a small amount of text and you really need to look at the cute pictures to appreciate the story. It tells the story of a girl who collects hearts that rain down and uses them to make Valentines specific to each of her animal friends.

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink
This is one of my favorite books! Gilbert needs to write nice poems for everyone in his class but instead he chooses to write mean poems to two kids who have been mean to him with consequences for the whole class. This is a longer story that really teaches them to see things from others’ point of view.

The Mitten

To finish off the winter season, we focused on Jan Brett’s The Mitten, based on the Ukranian folktale.  In the story Nikki wants his Babba to make him white mittens even though they could be lost in the snow.  He then loses a mitten and all different animals crawl into the mitten to stay warm.  It’s a sweet story with cute pictures!

Skills: fine motor skills, art, shapes, counting, color recognition
Supplies: stiff white felt, yarn, one pipe cleaner, single hole punch, scissors, felt with a sticky back or other decorations, file folder, buttons,

The mittens we made turned out really well and the girls LOVED “sewing” them!

To make the mittens, fold a sheet of the stiff, white felt in half and cut out two mittens.  (I started with a mitten template from Jan Brett’s website here but ended up adapting it to a size and shape that worked better for me.)  Then punch holes all around the edges of one of the mittens.  Place one mitten over the other and mark a dot through each hole.  Punch holes out on the second mitten.

Next cut the yarn to be your “thread.”  I measured the yarn twice around the mitten to know where to cut.  Then cut about 1 1/2 inches from the pipe cleaner to be your needle.  Tie the yarn to the end of the pipe cleaner and then fold the tip over the knot.  I usually give the pipe cleaner a twist to hold on the yarn.  Tie the other end of the yarn to one of the holes at the bottom of the mitten.  I found it was easier to have all of this done ahead of time.

This was one project where we really had to work one at a time.  The girls would take turns playing with the mitten pieces and practicing poking the thread through the holes while I helped one with the actually stitching.

Afterwards we decorated the mittens using shapes I cut out of the sticky-back felt.  We talked about why Babba didn’t want Nikki to have white mittens in the snow and how our decorations would help Nikki find his mitten sooner.  Originally my plan was for the girls to glue on bits of felt, ribbon, and pom poms.  I then remembered I had the felt with the sticker backing and that was sooooo much easier and cleaner.

Later the girls colored the animals from the story on this printable from Jan Brett’s website.  I then cut out the animals they colored.  With the animal pieces we re-read the story, putting them in their mittens as we went.

To practice our colors and counting, we also played a file folder game that I got here.  Since we’ve done a few color matching games in the past, this time we matched colored buttons to the mittens in the folder.  I had gotten a bag of multicolor buttons from the fabric store to use on projects like this.  We then counted the buttons on each mitten, since each had a different amounts including zero.

We also read the nursery rhyme, “Three Little Kittens.”  Then we colored the picture I found here while practicing the number three.


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Helpful Tip for Play Kitchens

Helpful Tip:  You know those little cardboard food boxes that come with the plastic food sets?  To help them last longer, cover them in clear packing tape.

I got the idea from a visit to the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  They had done the same thing with all the play food in their kitchen area and as soon as I saw it I thought “Duh!” So I just finished covering all of mine in the thick, clear packing tape.

We got our first set of play food when Santa brought the girls a kitchen set the Christmas before last.  Since they were only 1 1/2 years old, Zoe and Mia immediately tore up the food boxes.  We have since gotten more play food and while the girls don’t tear them up, they sometimes play rough with them.  I have to say that as soon as I started covering the little boxes with clear packing tape they immediately looked new again.  And the few I finished earlier and put out for the girls to play with seem to be holding up much better and feel a lot stronger.

I did learn right away to not point out the tape or the girls would try to pull at it.  When I didn’t say anything, they didn’t notice.  And to keep the job from being tedious, I would just do a few at a time when I had a break and then throw them back in the pile.

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