By Christine Steendahl
Valentine's Day is just around the corner and this holiday isn't just for adults anymore. If you have taken a recent trip to your local store your toddler or preschooler has probably noticed the holiday is approaching. They most likely are asking you to purchase many of the commercialized Valentine products that look enticing. Instead, how about making some cute crafts and treats with your little one at home. The ideas below are a lot of fun and a great way to spend quality time with each other on a cold afternoon.
One of the easiest projects is to create Valentine's Day cards together. Your child can mail or deliver these to parents, grandparents, neighbors and close friends. Start with a piece of red or pink construction paper. Fold the sheet in half to make a card shape. Then let your child use a heart shaped cookie cutter to trace a heart shape on the card. Or fold a piece of paper in half, draw a half a heart on the fold and help your preschooler cut it out. He can then glue it on the card. Paper doilies and stickers can also be added if you have some available. Let him decorate the card with crayons, markers, glitter and any other crafting supplies you have laying around the house. Ask him what he would like say on the inside of the card, and write it for him. Then let him deliver his special Valentine's Day card, or put a stamp on it and put it in the mail box.
An easy goodie to make for Valentine's Day is heart shaped sugar cookies. Whip up a batch of your favorite sugar cookie dough, or pick up some pre-made dough at the grocery store. Pull out the rolling pin, roll it out together and let your child cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter. Bake the cookies according to directions. For the icing, mix powdered sugar with a little milk. Add a few drops of red food coloring to turn the frosting pink. Now it is decorating time - most likely your preschoolers favorite part. Hand your child a plastic knife or pastry brush and let him brush the icing over the cooled sugar cookies. Then provide him with sprinkles and small candies to decorate these special heart-shaped Valentine treats.
Decorating the house for Valentine's Day will also bring lots of joy. There are many simple and economical ideas to spruce up your home for the holiday. You could create a heart garland with paper hearts and hang it over the window. You can also make a simple wreath by cutting medium heart shapes out of red, pink and white construction paper. Take a paper plate and cut out the center area. Them arrange the hearts around the outer ring of a paper plate. Add a ribbon to the top as a hanger and it is ready to hang on the wall or door.
If your child wants to make treat bags for friends at church or playgroup, here's a fun idea. Use thick cardboard or card stock to cut out two hearts identical in size. Use a hole punch and punch holes around the bottom part of each heart. Match up the hearts and then use some yarn or ribbon to sew the two heart shapes together. Make sure to not add holes to the top part of the hearts. This will be the opening of the treat "bag". Then simply add a long piece of ribbon toward the top of the hearts to make a handle. Let your child add a few pieces of candy or stickers to each gift, then allow them to proudly hand them out at your next gathering.
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