Thursday, February 7, 2013

Easy Valentine Sorting Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Valentine's Sorting Activity
In my experience with my kids, anything that involves taping something all over your body= MORE FUN. Thus came my inspiration for this Valentine's Sorting activity. 

little bodies!
construction paper
white board, wall or floor

First cut out lots of hearts in different colors that vary in size. I used five different colors and cut about six different sizes, small to large.
Then stick them all over a little body that is close by. My kids think this is hilarious. My two year old kept peeling them off, so we put most of them on my four year old and then later, all over me!
Then I explained a little bit about "order." My four year old has been learning about this in Joy School where they were challenged to create their own "morning order." They got to choose the order in which they brushed their teeth, got dressed, made their bed, ate breakfast, etc. We've also talked about how things in nature have an "order" such as the sun and moon and the way a seed turns into a plant, or the order in which a house is built.
We started with colors, for my two year old. 
I told them that a love bug had sneaked into Charlotte's room last night and kissed her! Now she is covered in kisses that we need to put in order, according to color.
We sang a little song that I made up (if you couldn't tell) that goes like this:
Love Bug, Love Bug
He kissed me!
Look at this heart,
What could it be?

Then my two year old would pick off a heart and I'd ask her what color it is. After she identified the color, we'd tape it up onto the board. Once we had one or two hearts of each color on the board, it was easier for her to know where to put them on the board, in order. You might place a piece of construction paper of each color on the board so that it's easier for your child to know where to put each color initially. 

(I'm not ashamed)
Then we put the little one down for a nap and got back to work. My four year old covered me in kisses and this time we put sorted them by size, smallest to largest.
Again, this was easier once we had one or two hearts of each color up on the board. Then I'd ask her, "Is this heart smaller or bigger than this one?" When all the hearts were up, we pointed at each one and said, "Small, bigger, bigger....biggest!"
And lastly, we sorted the hearts by uppercase and lowercase letters. I wrote A-M in both upper and lower case on the hearts in random order. We laid the hearts on the floor and picked up one at a time, starting an upper case pile and a lower case pile.
In the beginning, this was a little tough for her, so I'd match them up and have her 1) identify the letter and 2) tell me which one was upper or lower case.
You can use this idea for almost anything. And hearts are easy to cut out quickly while your kids are catching a morning episode of Curious George or Word World (our favs). You could have them help you cut them out by drawing the half-heart line on a folded piece of paper. That would be excellent practice with scissors for those little hands!

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Friday, February 1, 2013

A Valentine that even a kindergartner can make

The other day, I received a notice in my five year old's back pack that her kindergarten class will be exchanging Valentines in two weeks. We've done this before with friends, but never for an entire class of expectant five year olds! This is a big deal, people.

I started looking around on Pinterest and found millions of creative ideas for Valentines. Almost every idea I found had one thing in common: They required ME to make them. Some of them even called for special paper and labels for printables and while those Valentines are awesome, I wanted something my five year old could make herself, with my assistance.

I've been studying the letter A with my four year old and while I was looking up astronomy crafts, I came across these constellation tubes. And thus these STELLAR VALENTINES were born.
And yes, even a kindergartner can make them.
 We made both full size and half size Stellar Valentines. I think the mini version is best to hand out in the classroom and the full size is perfect for a craft activity at home.

 Let's begin!
Here are the materials you'll need: 
 toilet paper roll 
(I honestly love crafts that use those things because I always have plenty)
masking tape
construction paper
stickers, glitter, ribbon, decorative letters, and any other BLING to dress it up
 Cut out a square of foil and cover one end of your tube. Place some glue around the rim of the tube beforehand to keep it in place. I used hot glue because it gets the job done faster.
Smooth down the excess foil as you will be covering it with paper and want it to lay as flat as possible. (Can you tell this girl is used to posing for my camera?)
 To help it lay flat, wrap some masking tape around the foil. Then you're ready to create your constellation!

Here are two of the books we read this week to learn a bit about constellations:

Constellations: A Glow-in-the-Dark Guide to the Night Sky

Constellations (The Universe)

Use your toothpick to poke holes, or stars, into your foil.
Since these are Valentines, we made our own constellations of LOVE.
We did plain hearts, two hearts linked together, multiple tiny hearts, and I even tried writing "Stellar" but soon realized that it was backwards when I looked through the other side. Duh.
Cut your construction paper to size and wrap it around your tube, sealing it with glue.
Time to decorate!
My four year old decided to punch holes at the other end and tie a ribbon onto her tube so she could wear it as a necklace. She opted for glitter dots and "You are stellar" in her own handwriting, which is huge progress for that little one.

Love those backwards R's.

And my fancy five year old went after the stickers and even drew a helmet around the monkey's head to make him a "space monkey."

Yep, I made one too.

Time for a snack...
And on to the minis! I think these will be so fun for Hazel to pass around to her classmates and every one can be unique. I used card stock since Wednesday was trash day and we were fresh out of toilet paper rolls.
Cover the end with foil.
Wrap in your paper.
Glue the edge.
And make your constellation of love.
Since they weren't fancy enough, we lined the rim with glue and dipped it them in glitter!

I had some letter stickers that we used, but my favorites are the ones that my daughter wrote herself.

Hazel added that "I love you" for a boy in her class. She said it was because he just had a birthday, so naturally she had to say "I love you."

 Even though we make activity time a consistent thing in our home, I'm not always good about having patience with tiny fingers or strong-willed opinions that want to do it their way. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and when it comes to these activities with my kids, I have to throw my desire for perfection out the window and focus instead on my lovability. There have been times that I have wondered why I do these activities on a regular basis with my kids when it can become so challenging. These pictures don't show the moment I burned my finger with hot glue, muttered an expletive, and shooed away my four year old who was scraping the table with her tooth pick. But I know it's worth the effort to keep trying because I want, REALLY want, my kids to remember that I took the time to do these things with them, not for them.

Happy Valentines to all you awesome moms out there.
You inspire me, really.
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