There is no law that says Valentine’s Day is just for couples. Cupid's matchmaking day is also perfect for teaching your little ones about the unconditional love that your family shares -- even when you find your tot gnawing on your favorite lipstick again -- along with lots of fun ways to express it. Abundantly share those sweet and sometimes sticky hugs and kisses with your kids now, while they still don't know about cooties.
1. Cupid’s Scavenger Hunt
Write clues on heart-shaped pieces of paper that ultimately lead to a box of Valentine’s Day treats. Remember, treats aren't just sweets. Tots love stickers, crayons, books and toys, too. Make each clue lead to something (or someone) that your little ones love, and simple enough for them to figure out without much help. For example, a clue that leads to the beloved family dog may read, “I like to fetch and bark.” When your kids reach the dog, they’ll find the next clue hanging from its collar. Examples of where clues can lead include a picture of a grandparent, a favorite toy, inside the box of a favorite movie, around Dad's wrist, a sibling’s room, a picture of your child or a family portrait.
2. V-Day Photo Booth
Combine two of your kids' favorite activities — dressing up and acting silly — to make your own themed photo booth. Use a pink piece of paper or fabric as the backdrop, hang ribbons from the top of it (unless your little ones chronically yank on anything that dangles) and make props to use in the photos. You can make your own props with pastel-colored paper cut into heart shapes. Write love messages on the hearts so they look like the popular chalky, heart-shaped message candies, like "U R a QT," "I ♥ you" or "You rock!" After you finish writing on the hearts, use masking tape to stick the paper to the top of a dowel or Popsicle stick. Use red paper to make big kissy lips and black paper to make heart-shaped glasses. Items from around your house can also make great props, like fake flowers, hats, funny sunglasses, feather boas, costume wigs, tiaras and those accessories that you're too embarrassed to wear in public. Learn to use the timer on your camera so the whole family can get in on the photo fun.
3. Indoor Picnic
With the help of your little ones, prepare a Valentine’s Day feast with heart-shaped food and pink treats. Use this culinary opportunity as a clever way for your kids to practice naming shapes and colors. To make heart-shaped treats, use a cookie cutter to make sugar cookies. Then use the same cookie cutter to make heart-shaped sandwiches. If you're tired of the daily sandwich grind, lay some newspaper on the floor (it will get messy) and give each kid an apron and heart-shaped piece of pizza dough so they can top their own personal pizzas instead. To make heart-shaped veggies (you have to fit the healthy stuff in when you can), slice up carrots and cucumbers into round disks and cut out a triangle shape from one edge. Make a sweet, foamy punch by adding a couple scoops of sherbet ice cream to red or pink soda. When you and the tots are ready to eat, lay a red-and-white checkered tablecloth on the floor and serve the food on red or pink party plates.
4. Heart Bingo
If your little ones know their ABCs and numbers, pat yourself on the back and play a game of bingo. Instead of using the traditional letters, make your own bingo cards that use the letters in the word “heart.” This way, they learn to spell a new word and you avoid reminding the kids that they want a dog named Bingo. When you call out a letter and number, write them on a dry-erase board. This way, if your young player doesn’t immediately remember a letter or number that you call out, he can look at the board to jog his memory.
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