Valentine's Day -- with all of its nauseating expressions of undying love, not to mention all that unhealthy candy -- can border on being too commercial to mean much of anything. The holiday can still serve as a good reminder to show affection to the ones you love the most. Get out the colored construction paper, safety scissors and craft glue, and watch your child create homemade Valentines that show how much she loves her family and friends.
1. Decorated Hearts
For an easy craft, cut out heart shapes from colored paper, such as the classic pink, red, white and purple that go along with the Valentine's Day holiday. Set out a variety of craft supplies for your preschooler, such as buttons, beads, glitter, shaky eyes, pipe cleaners and cotton balls, and let your child paste the items to the hearts to add flair. Once the hearts are dry, your little one can present them to her loved ones. For a different type of decorated heart, cut out one large heart from construction paper and help your child glue on googly eyes and draw a smiley face to make a heart person, suggests Katharine Reynolds Ross in her book "All New Crafts for Valentine's Day." Then cut out several smaller hearts from construction paper for your child to decorate his heart with. Perhaps he could glue on small hearts as ears or glue them to the top of the heart as hair. Just be sure to closely supervise this activity, as buttons and beads could pose a choking hazard.
2. Homemade Cards
Fold a piece of paper in half to create a homemade card. Set out colored construction paper, safety scissors and glue so your child can decorate the Valentine's Day cards. Show your child how to cut out hearts to glue onto her cards. Preschoolers might enjoy punching heart shapes out of colored paper with a large hole punch. Then she can glue the punched-out hearts onto her cards, as well. Put a twist on this project with commercial Valentines. Help your child use safety scissors to cut out images from store-bought cards or the cheap Valentines that school children exchange. Show her how to glue the images to paper to create her own collage-type Valentines to exchange with family and friends.
3. Valentine Carriers
Gather the family together to do a simple craft that allows everyone to exchange messages of love. Give everyone a shoebox or other small box with a lid. Show your child how to cut pieces of colored construction paper and glue them to the outside of the box, including the lid. Encourage your child to decorate his box with paper hearts, ribbon, glitter or whatever craft supplies you have on hand. Once the boxes are dry, family members can write love notes to each other and slip them inside the boxes. A variation of this craft is to fold a piece of colored paper in half and staple two of the sides, which will form an envelope carrier, Donna Borst suggests in her book "The Best of Holidays & Seasonal Celebrations: Arts & Crafts." Have your child glue on paper hearts to decorate the envelope. Once it's dry, staple on a pipe cleaner for a handle. Hang the carrier on your child's bedroom door and then slip in love notes that way.
4. Additional Crafts
Cut out a selection of colored hearts from construction paper and ask your child to make a zoo. This project encourages creativity as your child arranges hearts into animal shapes. Perhaps your child could turn one heart upside down and then add two right-side-up hearts on top as ears to make a bunny. Once your child has arranged the animals, help her glue them to a piece of white paper. Once the glue dries, show her how to use markers to add eyes, noses, whiskers and other details. Instead of a zoo, make a garden. Help your child cut different sizes of hearts out of colored construction paper and glue them to a piece of paper. Show her how to add stems with a green marker to turn each heart into a flower.
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