It’s almost time for Valentine’s Day! Not only does Valentine’s Day allow us and our children to share our love with the people we care most about, but it is also filled with endless natural language and social learning opportunities for our children. We want to start preparing your children for Valentine’s Day now. The more familiar they are with Valentine’s Day (activities, vocabulary, the concept of love and much more), the more successful they will be on the actual day. Here are a few ideas to start next week:
Start reading Valentine related books with your child.
Preschoolers: Some preschoolers may not be ready for a true story book....it may be difficult for them to sit and/or attend to a book. So when you are reading the books, focus on describing the pictures in the book rather than the story. If your child is ready for the story, then use very simplified language as you are reading. Focus on using one to three word sentences when reading and when talking about the book. The goal is to familiarize your child with Valentine’s related vocabulary such as: hearts, love, family, friends, etc. Here are a few good books to read:
“Maisy Loves You” by Lucy Cousins
“Biscuit’s Valentine’s Day” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
“What Is Love, Biscuit?” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
“If You’ll Be My Valentine” by Cynthia Rylant
“Corduroy’s Valentine’s Day” by Lisa McCue
“Spot’s Valentine” by Eric Hill
“Where is Baby’s Valentine” by Karen Katz
Kindergarten through second grade: For these kids you want to focus on the “social-ness” of Valentine’s Day such as Valentine’s parties as well as planning and organization. You want to look for books that describe the sequencing of Valentine’s events such as thinking of what they might see on Valentine’s Day, what they want to wear on Valentine’s Day, finding/making the perfect Valentine’s Day card, going to a party, feelings, family, friends, etc. Here are a few good books to read:
“The Night Before Valentine’s Day” by Natasha Wing
“The Biggest Valentine Ever” by Steven Kroll
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Laura Numeroff
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter!” by Mercer Mayer
“Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia” by Herman Parish
“Valentine’s Day” by Anne F. Rockwell
“Tucker’s Valentine” by Leslie McGuirk
Third grade and up: With this group of children you may want to focus on finding chapter books about Valentine’s Day. A great idea is to read a chapter a night and then have them do something related to each chapter or at the end of the week like: drawing a picture, writing a summary, creating their own story, creating their own chapter to what they think will happen next, etc. Here are a few good books to read:
“Valentine’s Day Disaster” (Geronimo Stilton Series #23) by Geronimo Stilton
“Valentine’s Day Secret” (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series #12) by Carolyn Keene
“February Friend” (Calendar Mystery Series #2) by Ron Roy
“Karen’s Secret Valentine” (The Baby-Sitters Club: Little Sister Series #82) by Ann M. Martin
“Abby’s Un-Valentine” (The Baby-Sitter Club Series #127) by Ann M. Martin
“Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine” (Junie B. Jones Series #14) by Barbara Park
Valentine’s Day Joke Book: “Olive You!: And Other Valentine Knock-Knock Jokes You’ll A-Door” by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg
Preschoolers: A great way to increase your child’s understanding about Valentine’s Day is through art. Go to websites and print off coloring pages. Spend the week coloring, painting and more! When you are done with your artwork, your child can make a book about Valentine’s Day or you can tape their art around the house so that when you walk through the hallway, you have a language activity ready to go: “Heart”, “Look, a heart”, “Big heart”, “Purple heart”, etc. Another fun idea is to paste pictures of your family and friends inside a big paper heart and work on using their name as well as “love” such as “love Daddy” and “love Mommy”.
Here are some websites where you can find some free Valentine’s Day coloring pages:
Kindergarten through second grade: Cookie Cutters! Check out your local dollar stores, grocery stores and super stores for Valentine’s Day themed cookie cutters. There are so many ways you can work on language with cookie cutters. You can play Play-Doh and make pretend Valentine’s and different sized hearts, you can do “cutter painting” by dipping the cookie cutter in some paint and then using it as a “stamp” on a piece of paper, you can do the same with glue and sprinkle glitter or confetti on top (http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2010/01/easy-valentine-craft.html), you can of course cook with them (cookies, make sandwich shapes, make pancake shapes, etc.) and you can use the cutters to trace designs and shapes for handmade Valentines and any craft you want (princess Valentine wand: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2010/01/princess-valentine.html).
Third grade and up: For older children, they can start preparing for what they want to give their friends and family for Valentine’s Day. Help them makes lists of their friends’ and family’s favorite things such as colors, flavor of candy, flavor of cupcake, etc. They can “interview” their friends and family in person, over the phone, through email or text message. Your child can ask what their specific favorites are or they can vote on a favorite (vanilla versus chocolate cupcake, chocolate, gummi or sour heart candies, etc.). Then during the week before Valentine’s Day, they can start preparing the Valentine’s for each person to hand out on the big day. For instance, Dad’s favorite color is blue so I’m going to make his card out of blue construction paper or I’m going to print his card with blue ink. My friend Mandi likes chocolate cupcakes better than vanilla and her favorite color is green so her cupcake will be decorated with green sprinkles. This is an excellent way to promote Theory of Mind skills (other people like different things and have different preferences than I do…..this will make them happy and loved and they will have good thoughts towards me…..this in turn will benefit the friendship or relationship).
Start preparing your child for Valentine’s Day now and they will get the most successful and positive experience on February 14 and during all the fun events leading up to the big day. Have fun!
~Laura & Amanda