Raining Hearts Math

This is my favorite Valentines activity yet, and I have had oh-so-many favorites.  Based on one of our favorite books, The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and a great idea I found here, the kids and I did some snipping (as Em calls cutting), pasting, and a bit of math and writing as well!

Raining Hearts Math @ Rub Some Dirt On It

While I assembled our materials (construction paper, card stock, markers, glue, scissors), Jax read the book to his sisters.  He is such a sweet and smart big brother!

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Then I let the kids pick out which pattern they’d like for their umbrella as well as what color hearts they’d like (Jax chose red, Em chose purple, of course).  I let them cut out their own umbrellas and glue them to the paper while I cut out the handles.  Then I impressed the heck out of them by showing them how to make many little hearts by folding paper; every time I made the final snip and a bunch of hearts fell onto the table, Jax and Em gasped like there were fireworks.

They pasted their hearts above their umbrellas as though it were raining…

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…and then we did a bit of math, just for fun.  Jax says he really loves “hard math, like 11 +12,” so we counted the red and purple hearts and wrote it out.  Just simple addition, but it is a first for Em to see it written out that way.

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They both wrote in their numbers and colors, which is more writing than Jax usually does in one sitting.  It’s all in capturing his interest, I suppose!  Don’t they look wonderful?  I just love that Em chose to make a cheetah umbrella.  She’s a sassy one, that girl.

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 Take cover, everyone!  It’s raining hearts!

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Winter Fun: A Heart Race!

Okay I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I am a grumpy pregnant mama who has been in various stages of labor for nearly three weeks.  So when I came across this simple, fun activity that would get my kids moving and laughing from Little Family Fun on Pinterest, I knew it was a perfect way to spend some time on a contraction-filled winter’s morning.

Picture the old school egg-on-a-spoon race, but with a Valentine’s flare.  I know the holiday is past, but this is a great way to recycle some of the leftover hearts hanging around.  Just grab two bowls, place them on opposite sides of the room, give each child a spoon, and have them walk speedily to the other bowl without dropping the heart or they have to start again.

It wasn’t exactly a race–they weren’t competing–and they had lots of laughs.

And when they looked like they were going to lose interest, I changed it up with chopsticks and they started all over again.

 A great way to burn some energy and have fun this winter, and of course, you don’t have to use hearts–you can make this use shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, flowers for spring–the possibilities and variations are endless!  But as a mama who needs a moment or two on the couch at times, having such a great way to keep them busy and moving is invaluable to have on hand!

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Loving Out Loud

I was so grateful to be able to share Valentine’s Day with my kids this year and not in a hospital room, hoping the day was as special for them as I would have made it.  They woke up to a curtain of love, a tradition which we started last year, and they were so adorably excited to see their names on the hearts, proclaiming how special they are.  Jax read all the ones he could reach to Em and was just as excited as she was for the ones that were hers specifically.  Starting off the day with an exclamation that We Love You! and letting it go from there.

JDubbs and I make the curtain together every year, and it’s so great to take a moment to consider all the reasons why our kids are so wonderful and why we love them so much.

And the kids really loving hearing us say it.  My thought is that you never really mess up your kids by telling them you love them too much.  Make them a  little self-centered, maybe, but I definitely point out their shortcomings, too.  I just try to spend more time focusing on their sweetness rather than their devilishness.  If it makes them a bit spoiled, I guess that’s a good problem to have later.

Teaching them to love out loud.

The kids went off to school to hand out sweet out-of-the-box Valentines to their friends and handmade Valentines for their teachers.  They were so happy to share the love with those that mean a lot to them–from grandparents and cousins to classmates; it feels so good to teach them to love.  Especially each other.

If that’s all we teach them, I will still feel as though we did our jobs as parents.  Teaching them to love without fear, without embarrassment, without hesitation.  I couldn’t really ask for more for my kids than that, and we’ll figure out the rest as we go along.

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We Heart Literacy Fun

Two great Valentine’s-themed activities that require practically no effort but deliver on fun, with a dash of literacy and motor skills engagement, too!  A great way to combat the sugar high we will all be undoubtedly experiencing on the 14th and beyond!

This sweet and simple idea from Toddler Approved needed only construction paper hearts and a marker to create a fun way to practice rhyming and understanding word families.  Basically I cut out about twenty hearts, added as many -ake and -at words that I could find (plus a few extra random words to keep it interesting) and spread them out on the table.  I should have followed Toddler Approved’s advice and taped them onto a piece of paper to hang up later, so that Em could have a chance to learn them by osmosis (aka her bossy older brother).

Then I gave Jax a monster truck and told him to drive around looking for -ake words and that he couldn’t touch the others.  He thought it was awesome, and although he has not been to nor watched a monster truck rally, he was doing an impressive job of leaping and crashing from heart to heart with the appropriate ending.  This kind of stuff is definitely in little boys’ DNA.

Having him say the words out loud was helpful, too.  We had a lot of fun just messing around and being silly–my favorite kind of playtime!

After this activity was done, Em woke up from her nap and I wanted to extend the fun to include her.  I had found this idea from Carrots Are Orange and knew it would be just the right way to scratch the we’ve-been-inside-too-long itch.

So basically, I flipped my hearts over (so I guess it was good I didn’t tape them down), wrote the alphabet on the backs and then added a few action verbs (jump, skip, run) to change it up.  I started with Jax since Em was still a little sleepy and had him jump from letter to letter, spelling his name.

Again, all boy.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

After that, Em was hooked and wanted to spell her own name.  Watching a two-year-old jump is one of the funniest things on earth–I dare you to be grumpy after watching all the concentration and jubilation that single act produces from your toddler.  Loved it.

Then they worked as a team (I quickly realized I couldn’t ask them to go for the same letter because brother hip-checked her so fast she was going to develop an alphabet phobia).  I would say, Jax, you find the letter J and Em, you find the letter E.  Then they would kind of race and Em would be so proud if she could find her letter first.  Then, when that got old, I called out a sound a letter makes and they could try to find the letter that makes that sound.

Finally, I would randomly yell out one of the verbs (jump, skip, etc) and they would go running around the house doing whatever I had said.  Totally random, but they loved it and begged to run around in between rounds.  Tired them out, kept the game interesting, and helped beat the mid-winter blues!

And there you have two very simple, fun, Valentine’s-themed activities to help strengthen your kids’ minds and bodies!  And of course, since hearts are not relegated merely to Feb 14th (nor do you have to do these in heart shapes), these are activities that can help you get through the winter months and beyond!

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Teachers’ Pets

Well, baby and I have made it to 35 weeks (hooray!) and along with some insane nesting, I am also freaking out that all our Valentine’s Day ducks will not be in a row and I will be in labor or something on the big day, and thus my kids will be left Valentine-less or ill-prepared for school, etc.  So I have had the kids’ classmates’ Valentines in their schoolbags for over a week, and today I realized that we had not yet gotten around to making any for their teachers.  A quick visit to Pinterest and each of them had chosen an easy and fun Valentine from spoonful.com that I made while they were eating lunch.  These are more parent-centered for younger kids, but older kids would have no problem tracing out some hearts and cutting out adorable elephants, or gluing together some sweet little mice!

First up: how to make an elephant Valentine for those people in your life you couldn’t possibly forget!

First, cut out 2 hearts for ears, then trace one more heart of the same size for the head.  Add a J-shaped hook at the bottom for a trunk.

Then glue all the pieces together to form an elephant’s face!  Add eyes and little hearts for decoration, plus the saying You’re Unforgettable!  Super sweet and easy.

Jax decided to make sweet Hershey Kiss mice for each of his teachers.  First you take two kisses and remove the Hershey tags.  Then cut ears out of felt and glue them all together like a felt ear sandwich.  I found Tacky Glue worked the best.

Then add some eyes and later, if everything stays put, I will try to adhere a tiny pom pom nose.  Slip a pipe cleaner or ribbon tail in the back of the foil and you have a sweet little mouse, ready to deliver a kiss to the sweetest people in your life!

And so, finally, we’re almost ready for Valentine’s Day!  I just have to make our curtain of love notes that will greet the kids when they wake up on Thursday, and then if baby decided to make her debut, I’ll know that everything is settled at home, which will help me survive being away from them on such a special day more bearable.  Hopefully baby girl will just stay put and we will all be together on Thursday, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!

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Love Monsters!

So, this is pretty much my favorite thing that the kids and I have done for the entire month of February: created love monsters!

This is a really fun, creative, festive way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Jax, Em, and I each got to make one and we each could put our own stamp on our monster to personalize it and make it our own.  I would suggest you get the housekeeping done before your kids join the party, and get the major stuff cut out ahead of time.

You need:

solid background, red/pink body, heart-shaped eyes, mouth, two shoes, white teeth, white irises for the eyes, pipe cleaners for antennae, decorations for the tops of the antennae

I purposely did not make them exactly the same size–I thought monsters wouldn’t mind a bit of dis-symmetry.  I cut out enough for each of us and let the kids choose which body, eyes, shoes, and mouth they liked best.  Then we assembled our monsters and personalized them as we liked, as far as placement of body parts and number of teeth, etc.

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Em wanted her monster to have purple striped socks, a heart tattoo, and rhinestones.  He had one pink and one red antennae, white heart antennae toppers with purple and pink spots.

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My monster has four teeth, rhinestones on his sneakers, glasses, and yellow antennae with white heart tops with pink spots.

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Jax’s monster has a pirate eye patch, lots of teeth, one pink and one red antennae with circle tops with blue and red spots.

Our love monsters have cheered up our kitchen and are getting us in the mood for Valentine’s Day!  I would be happy to do this again every year, and like Teacher Bits and Bobs from where I stole this idea, when they got older I’d love to incorporate writing down things we love, to take it to another level.  Whether you are using it as a teachable moment or just for good old fashioned fun, making love monsters is one of the best ways to spend some time with your kids and share the love!

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Handprint Heart Valentines

When we headed down to Massachusetts for my last time visiting family before baby came (little did I know how soon that might be!), the kids and I brought Valentines to Grammy and Grampy since we didn’t think we would be seeing them beforehand (wrong again).  We loved making these simple gestures that say I love you, and believe me, my parents loved receiving them!

Basically all you need is construction paper and scissors.  Fold the paper in half and then trace the kids’ hands onto the fold so that their pointer and thumb line up on the crease, creating half a heart.

Then cut it out and open the handprints. Inside with be a heart-shaped hole, which you can smooth out to be more perfect (if you’re OCD like me).  Then tape the handprint to a piece of paper and write some loving words to share with your Valentine!

I’ve got to hand it to you, Valentine!  You’re the best!

Whatever sweet nothings you choose to inscribe, family will love to receive such a sweet gift, and as I always say, there’s nothing like handprints to make a grandparent smile.

Now let’s see if baby girl will let us get some more holiday crafting in before she makes her debut!  I hope so–this is one of my favorite holidays of the year!  Here’s to spreading the love!

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