Valentineâ€™s day is nearly upon us, and if you’ve got young kids, they may be wondering what it’s all about. After all, it is the second most popular day to send cards, next to Christmas, so itâ€™s kinda hard to ignore! So prepare yourself for February 14th.
Nobody really knows how it all started. After all, there are a few early saints called â€˜Valentineâ€™, but any link between them and the day of romance was probably only a later invention. Somewhere between the 14th and 16th centuries, we start to see it celebrated in the way weâ€™re familiar with now. In the 19th century, it became practical for the masses to send Valentineâ€™s cards, and as the postal service grew, they could even send them anonymously; a practice that has remained to this day!
But whatever about the teens and adults, it can also be an great day for young kids, and even toddlers. They enjoy being given the opportunity to make stuff, and show how much they love their friends, family and teachers. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
In the kitchen
Itâ€™s really easy to get the kids involved making heart-shaped goodies in the kitchen. All you need is a heart shaped cookie cutter (like this set of 6 heart shaped cookie cutters from Amazon) and a few basic ingredients. Hereâ€™s a recipe for some love cookies! Youâ€™ll need:
- Â¾ cup / 150g / 6oz self-raising flour
- Â¼ cup / 50g / 2oz caster sugar
- Â¾ cup / 150g / 6oz of butter
- If you want to be really fancy, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or a teaspoon of cinnamon (optional; theyâ€™re yummy with or without!)
Preheat the oven to 170Â°C / 338Â°F, and mix everything together in a bowl with your fingers to form â€˜breadcrumbsâ€™. The kids will probably need some help to get it right, but after 5 or 10 minutes, it should be thoroughly mixed together. Scrunch it all up in a ball, roll it out flat, cut out some hearts and put them on a lightly greased baking tray. Now, that wasnâ€™t so hard! The kids will love getting involved in this, and will probably even eat some of your dough before itâ€™s finished, but thatâ€™s all part of the fun!
Of course, I forgot to mention that you have to put them in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, but you knew that. Oh, and donâ€™t put them too close together, because they grow. When theyâ€™re ready, transfer them to a wire tray, and when theyâ€™ve cooled a little, mix up a bit of red or pink icing sugar and let the kids go wild decorating them. Theyâ€™ll love sharing them with their friends, or giving them to mummy and daddy to show how much they love themâ€¦ just before they start looking for their share of cookies too!
But Iâ€™m not so good at cooking?
Fear not, the above recipe is practically foolproof, but if youâ€™re still not confident, there are other easy ways to help your kids do kitchen crafts. Letâ€™s say daddy and the kids want to treat mummy to breakfast in bed. Make some toast, and get the kids to use the cookie cutters to make it heart shaped! A dollop of strawberry jam, and even the most oven-phobic person can be a hero. If you want to look like a real pro, get a flour sifter, add some icing sugar, and get one of the kids to sprinkle it on top. Very easy, even for kids, and the results look great!
Arts and Crafts
The basis for most Valentineâ€™s day arts and crafts starts with a heart. Theyâ€™re so easy to make, with just a pair of child-friendly scissors and some coloured paper. To make sure itâ€™s nice and symmetrical, fold the paper in half to start, cut out half a heart, then open it up!
The paper doesnâ€™t have to be any particular size, and indeed, you can cut lots of hearts out of one sheet. Here are a few ideas:
- Make lots of different coloured hearts and decorate the walls;
- Get (or help) each child to write their name on their own heart, and give them to someone special;
- Stick a photo of each child to each heart;
- Attached the heart to a blank greeting card for a homemade Valentineâ€™s card;
- Cut out a heart made of card, then get the kids to decorate it by sticking on little pieces of coloured tissue paper with glue;
- Thread lots of little hearts together to make a necklace or wreath;
- Cut two hearts out of card, with an extra cut halfway down the middle on one, and a cut halfway up the middle of the other. They should now fit into each other at right-angles, and with a little string, theyâ€™ll make a heart mobile! This is especially recommended when there is a new baby in the house, as it can be hung in their nursery to show them how much their siblings love the new arrival.
Depending on the ages of your children, adult supervision may vary, but kids can safely participate in any of these activities. But donâ€™t hold back! Use these ideas as a starting point, and add a little imagination for a personal touch. For example, if youâ€™re making cards with your children, think about what to write on them. Should you let your kids just draw a picture of the person they want to give it to? Thatâ€™s great if they canâ€™t write yet. Or maybe they can write their name, or dictate to you all the things they like about the other person. With a bit of paint, even very young children may contribute by adding a little handprint!
Another tip: see if a heart shape looks like it could be part of something bigger, then use it as a starting point for more involved arts and crafts activities. In this video, for example, Courtney Hester uses a heart as a pair of feet! (you may need to get some googly eyes and pom-poms for this)