Friday, February 24, 2012

Valentine's Day Party for Preschoolers

Before I get started on the celebration, I need to post the above two pictures of Oscar making his Valentine's card. I made special finger paint for him. It's safe for little ones who might actually ingest some! I used to make this finger paint for Noah and Aidas back in the day and blogged about it before:  And it was the exact same recipe I used before, from the following website: Unfortunately, Oscar really liked the taste of this stuff, and was trying to make a meal of it. I decided to just let him use regular paint, but gave him more ideas on how to paint with it. He ended up really getting into it and didn't even have a taste! I'm glad we ended up using regular paint in the end, because although the finger paint made from the recipe is great for the painting activity itself, it does not produce a nice painting, or in this case, a nice Valentine's Day card, in the end.

Okay, on to the celebration. This year, we kind of split our Valentine's celebration into two days. It's so hard to fit everything into one day when you consider that not everyone comes right at 8am every day. Plus, other things like using the potty, getting snowsuits on, and naps take up a large chunk of the day as well. On Monday the 13th we did not go outdoors, but instead devoted that time to cookie decorating. Noah and I had baked a bunch of heart-shaped sugar cookies the day before, so I just had to whip up some Royal Icing and dip the cookies in before handing them over to the kids, along with their choice of sprinkles. They obviously were more tempted to eat than decorate, so once I had urged them to decorate their first cookie, they got to eat that one. The rest would either be for them to eat later, or for family and friends. It was still very slow going while they decorated a little here, and tasted a few sprinkles there. Even though they were at the table for quite a while, they had only decorated a few cookies before they tired of the activity (or at least the decorating part of it).

The day before, when Noah and I had baked a batch, I was sure this wouldn't be enough, and that they would be crying to decorate more. So, I had gone ahead and baked a second batch. Now, however, I was stuck with a large quantity of plain heart-shaped cookies. Clearly, I had drastically overestimated their motivation to decorate cookies. I decided to decorate the rest myself, while watching them raise hell in the living room. In the end, we had lots to share with everyone. We packaged some in Valentine's baggies and the kids gave them as gifts to their parents, along with their heart-print Valentine's cards. We gave a bunch to the superintendent of our building and her crew, whom the children know very well. We also gave a few to our daycare sitter, and shared some with family as well. That left us with a few to enjoy ourselves (but not too much).

On February 14th, we continued our celebration. Noah and B. (and Oscar, in his own way) played a musical heart game. When the music played, they danced around paper hearts. When the music stopped, they had to stand on a heart as quickly as possible. The winner was the one who got to a heart faster, but we were constantly playing, so it wasn't very competitive. Oscar added to the challenge of the game by picking up hearts here and there, so that there were fewer to step on!

For snack, we had heart cupcakes (that I had made the night before) with pink icing and red and pink Smarties. We also had raspberries, strawberry flavoured Jello and "Valentine's Juice" (Raspberry Lemonade).

We brought our foam hearts for outdoor time and played some games with them. "Hide the Hearts" consisted of me closing my eyes and counting to ten while Noah hid a heart in a bush, and Aidas and B. hid about four hearts in the snow. Once I found them, that was the end of the game,  since "Bury the Hearts in a Snowbank" became a much more interesting game to them.

We also played "Heart Tag", in which the person who was 'it' did not have a foam heart, while everyone else did. Once he tagged someone, that person had to give them their heart, and they were now 'it'. It was fun playing that for a little while, even though there was limited success. As you might have already guessed, they usually refused to give up their heart once they were tagged. At least they are gaining more familiarity with games, even if they are not quite ready for the formal rules.

Before we had lunch, the kids opened their Valentine's mail folders to see the new mail they had received. There were Valentine's Day cards from friends, a small package of Valentine's Smarties from me, and homemade, healthy cookies from Oscar's mother. They were allowed one item to eat before lunch.

Lunch was sweet as well. We had whole wheat heart-shaped pancakes, with strawberry jam on top, and blueberries. After such a busy and exciting morning, the kids were more than ready for naps. What a party!

#valentinesdayparty #valentinesday #valentinesparty

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Homemade Valentine's Cards: Potato Print Hearts


  • pink, purple and red paint
  • large potato
  • potato peeler
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • heart cookie cutter
  • black marker
  • large plain paper for painting
  • paper plates
  • glue stick

  1. Peel a large potato. Then, cut at least 3 slices that are about 1 inch thick. (Whether you want to cut across the width, or lengthwise across the potato depends on the size of your cookie cutter, but cutting along the width should make it big enough for most cookie cutters.)
  2. Lay each potato slice flat, and cut a heart shape out of each, using your cookie cutter.
  3. Pour some purple paint onto a paper plate. Spread it around on the plate so that it is thin enough that the potato won't be dripping paint when you dip it in. Do the same with the pink and red paints, giving each their separate paper plate. Place a potato heart on each plate.
  4. Let the child stamp the different colours of paint onto the large white paper. When he/she is finished, let the paper dry.
  5. Once dry, fold the paper in half. The painted part should be on the outside, while the plain back of the paper should be on the inside. Glue it together on the inside, so that now, only the painted part is visible. 
  6. Fold it in half again to make a card.
  7. Have the child write what he/she wants to on the card. If the child is too young (as the kids at the daycare are), ask them where they want to write things like "To ____", "From ____" and "Happy Valentine's Day". Then, ask them what they would like to say to the person for whom the card is intended. 

I prompted the kids to find something to say by starting their sentence off for them. For instance, I would say, "Daddy, I love you because..." or "My favourite thing to do with you is...." Aidas was the first one I wrote for. He said, "Nana...I love you so much let me play with your jet engine toys." (I'm as confused as you are, but it still makes for a cute, funny, and most importantly, personal card!) His message to his mother was even better: "I love you so much because you take me to IKEA". See? Kids this age really know how to enjoy the simpler things in life. 

And Noah really showed his love for his daddy when he had me write in his "I love you like chocolate." That's saying a lot!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine's Day Activity: Lacing Hearts

  • any sized red heart of a thicker consistency than construction paper (you can make your own out of Bristol Board)
  • pink yarn
  • hole puncher
  • masking tape
  1. Punch holes all around the outside of the heart, between 1/2 an inch and 1 inch apart, and 1/4 of an inch from the edge.
  2. Cut a piece of yarn that measures the outline the heart 1and 1/2 times.
  3. Tie one end of the yarn to the bottom hole of the heart.
  4. Tear off a small piece of masking tape and wrap it tightly around the other end of the yarn, to make it easy for little hands to manage.
  5. Show the kids how to lace the heart, by threading the taped end of the yarn through a hole, pulling it all the way through, and then moving onto the next hole. It's okay if they don't thread the holes in order, or thread one hole on one side of the heart, and then move to the other side of the heart. My daycare kids did that (see the picture below) and still really enjoyed it!
* We taped a smaller foam heart in the middle of the big red heart, on each side, and made it into a valentine
    by writing a message on one of the sides.
* You could also modify the activity by using a pink heart and red yarn, or any combination of red, pink and  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Mail Folder: Messages of Love and Appreciation

Last week I had each of the kids make their own Valentine's mail folder by gluing pink and purple hearts onto a red folder with their name on it. (Oscar got a little help.)

Although these folders can and probably will be used on Valentine's Day, for the kids to exchange Valentines cards, I wanted to first use them for delivering messages of kindness. 

Whenever I get a chance, I write a personal message for each of the kids on a heart made out of construction paper. I use a little sticker (we have so many) as a stamp, which makes it more fun for them. I put the letters in their mailboxes. Then, usually at mealtime, I lay the mail folders out on the dining room table. They come up and I read them my newest 'love letter'. It's a nice way to remind them of behaviours they exhibited that I liked, and for them to get some recognition in front of their friends for that. Even though Oscar doesn't completely understand this activity, he still gets the good vibes, and it's essential for his friends to see that he also needs to be appreciated verbally (even though he can't yet talk).

I have also been encouraging the kids to come up with nice messages to say to each other, which I then write for them on a heart. I helped B. come up with some nice things to say to his friends when he got up from nap earlier than the others one day. 

Noah came up with his own messages of appreciation after the kids had gone home one night. He said things like "I really love you, Oscar", and "You were really good outside today, Aidas". He came up with the same message for mine: "You were really good outside today, Mommy." Good to know I behaved myself! He wrote one to his daddy too, which was just so cute we had to put it up on the fridge.

Later, he praised his daddy further, saying "You went outside....all by yourself..." So sweet!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whatever the Weather

Although I am very grateful for Toronto's mild winter this year, I am hoping we can enjoy more than the two snow days we've had before it's through. The kids obviously love it. Oscar seems to enjoy enjoy it much more than I remember Aidas and Noah enjoying it when they were his age. Sometimes his mitten will fall off and he'll stick his hand in the snow. Most kids would scream at the pain this cold can cause. Oscar is made of tougher stuff and doesn't seem to notice. Instead, he screams when I put his nice warm mitten back on.

We made a snowman. It was very small, partly because there wasn't a lot of snow, but also because of the logistics of building a snowman with three 3-year-olds and a 1-year-old: the 3-year-olds have limited motor skills and attention spans, and the 1-year-old likes taking the snowman's head off. 

Actually, you'll notice Oscar inconspicuously 'guarding' Frosty's head in the upper left photo. 

We are already getting ready for Valentine's Day. I love that Valentine's Day is in the dead of winter. When the trees are drab and the days can sometimes look so dull, it's nice to be decorating and doing crafts in red, pink and purple. In the photo above, the kids are putting foam hearts, numbered 1-5, in order. Team work is a very worthwhile challenge for them at this age, and cooperative skills seem to be a much bigger priority than academic ones. (On second thought though, I guess cooperative skills really are the hardest at any age. Our world seems like it's overflowing with intellectual knowledge, and yet the skills to compromise and work together are much more scarce!)

Now here's a contrast to the above pictures of snowy play; puddle jumping! The problem with puddles on a cold day for Oscar is that he's not quite walking yet, so he crawls over and splashes his hands in it, getting his mittens all wet. We've had to cut a few outings short because of this. This day, however, was cut short not by Oscar, but by the older boys who, as boys often do, found trouble. I believe it was "Curious Aidas" who initially found the pond; a very big puddle in the middle of the grass. His friends quickly joined him and it seemed pretty harmless at first. Then I realized that the bottom was completely ice. With this combination, not only were they slipping and falling; they were falling into a pool of water. It's not quite swimming season yet. I managed to tear them away from this crazy fun with only one minor injury, and I am thankful for that!

Another Valentine's activity we enjoyed last week was making little "heart men" or "heart women" out of construction paper. As you can see in the photo above, Oscar is fighting for equal rights for 1-year-olds by demanding to participate.

We thought he made a strong argument, so he came up, joined the group and enjoyed a more age-appropriate Valentine's activity. I'm always hesitant to bring him up when it's not meal time because I think he might get confused and demand food. It seems though, that he is completely satisfied with just an activity, and I get no complaints from him when I bring him down without having given him food.

We have had some days recently that have been absolutely gorgeous and springlike. This was one of them. We were late with our daily schedule on this day because we just didn't want to come back inside. Sometimes I wish we could stay out for a much longer time, but other necessities like using the potty, having a diaper change, lunch and naps all beckon us back inside.

Aidas and B. are still crazy about sticks. I had to get a shot of B. lugging his sticks, or maybe branches is a better word, behind him. You can see that one branch is about 3 times as long as him, but what the picture can't convey is how thick and heavy the other one is. At one point during the walk, he requested that I carry this second branch for him because it was so heavy. When I declined and suggested he leave it on the grass and just carry one stick, he summoned up some more strength and trudged along, determined to keep both sticks. Such determination will surely prove to be a strong asset in later life!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valentine's Heart Craft


  • red, pink and purple construction paper
  • googly eyes
  • red and pink craft foam sheets
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pencil

  1. Fold construction paper in half (horizontally).
  2. With your pencil, draw half a heart.
  3. Cut along the pencil line and unfold the paper to open the heart.
  4. Cut out strips from the purple, pink and red construction paper that are less than half an inch in width and between 5 and 6 inches long.
  5. Starting at one end, bend each strip over less than half an inch. Then, turn the strip on the other side and bend the already folded part up again, less than half an inch. Continue doing this until you reach the end of the strip. The paper should resemble the folds of an accordion.
  6. Have child glue the two eyes onto the heart shape first. 
  7. Let them choose a pink or red mouth, then cut one out of the foam, and have them glue it on.
  8. Let them choose the colours of their heart's arms and legs.
  9. Glue the arms and legs on.Glue the end fold on each strip only, to the sides and bottom of the heart.
  10. Ask child where they want to place their adorable Valentine's decoration!