While many view Valentine's Day as a holiday where couples celebrate their love for one another, February 14 is a great way to show your preschooler how much you love them, as well as teaching them about expressing love and affection for others. Whether it's making a homemade card or just saying "I love you," setting a loving example daily for your little one -- Valentine's Day or not -- will show them how to keep love in their lives year-round.
Is there anything more sweet than a homemade Valentine's Day card? Think gluey paper doilies, pink and red construction paper and sparkly glitter. Encourage your little one to make special greetings for all the loved ones in his life, from family and friends to a beloved teacher or neighbor. Lay out a bunch of supplies -- glue; crayons; markers; stickers; paper in assorted "love" colors like pinks, purples and reds; doilies; snapshots from throughout the year and more. You can help your child to clip out Valentine's Day words and phrases from magazines or use cards from last year that you can cut up and use pictures from. Cut the construction paper into a heart shape (the easiest way is to fold the paper in half lengthwise and draw half a heart against the fold and then cut) and let your preschooler get decorating!
Sure, a box of chocolate is a great treat to get on Valentine's Day, but there are plenty of other scrumptious, sweet flavors to sample. Make your menu on February 14 all things loving -- from pancakes and sandwiches shaped with heart and Cupid cookie cutters to pink yogurt and pudding and red fruit punch or strawberry milk. You can also head into the kitchen to whip up some Valentine's Day desserts, including this Valentine's Day Greeting from Kellogg's, made with Rice Krispies. Let your preschooler lend a hand by mixing in the cereal, pressing the mixture onto a cookie sheet and decorating with frosting and candies.
Now that you've made the perfect Valentine's Day card, where are you going to put it? Get your craft on by creating the perfect mailbox, especially designed to hold all the loving messages your preschooler is sure to receive. The box pictured calls for using an empty laundry detergent box, but any empty box (shoebox, oatmeal container, etc.) is sure to work fine. Just make sure that you handle any of the more complicated steps like cutting an opening for the notes, positioning the paper just right on the box and using the glue gun (if you choose to utilize one). Otherwise, arm your preschooler with some paper, stickers, glitter, crayons and markers and more and let her create a mailbox that you'll wish you could use year-round!
I can think of nothing sweeter (even eating chocolate mind you) than cuddling up under some blankets and reading a Valentine's Day book with my little one on the (cold, wintery) days leading up to February 14. Reading with your little one not only gives you the opportunity to spend some close one-on-one time together, but it sets the stage for your preschooler to become a reader as he gets older. These selections offer a variety of characters and formats and even have some easy-to-read choices too.
Making cards is a fun activity but so is coloring in special pre-made Valentine's Day pictures. Our selection from the About.com Family Crafts site is extensive and features a wide variety of characters and illustrations that are great for kids (and adults) of all ages. If your little one needs a little downtime, free coloring pages are a great way to accomplish that. Plus, when she's finished, she'll have some additional Valentine's to hand out and you'll have some ready-to-go Valentine's Day decorations for your windows, walls and refrigerator door.
Give your preschooler a family history lesson by pulling out some old photos and making a collage. In honor of Valentine's Day you can do a heart-shaped one, but really, any grouping will be fine. Consider using photocopies (or photos that you scan in and print) rather than pictures on regular photo paper. Not only does regular paper stick better, but you aren't using the original photo (although with the advent of inexpensive photography sites, this is becoming less and less of a concern). As you cut and sort through the photos, talk about who each person is, what is happening and what the person's relationship is to your little one. If the picture is of your child, ask him if he remembers what he was doing when it was taken. Once your collage is complete, find a special place to hang it or a special person to give it to. If possible, enclose it in a frame to keep it safe from wear and tear.