Valentine’s Day is almost here! This weekend continue to prepare your child for the big day by reading Valentine’s Day books and by engaging in Valentine’s Day art and activities as we described within our blog we posted last week. Here are some additional ideas that focus on Valentine’s Day cards and presents:
Valentine’s Day Cards
Preschoolers: For our younger children, a fun way to allow them to be involved in the valentine card process is to help them make their own cards. Gather your materials for Valentine’s Day cards in advance like construction paper, computer paper, red, pink, white and purple paint, crayons or markers, hearts that are pre-cut, glue, Valentine’s Day stickers, stamps, doilies, glitter, lace and anything else you and your child might like to use. Have the base of the card ready to go such as a piece of construction paper folded over like a standard card, a large pre-cut heart or plain pieces of paper. Allow your child to paint, color, decorate and create as they wish. Then, once your child’s creations are dry and ready, you can write Valentine’s Day messages (Happy Valentine’s Day, I Love You, Be Mine, etc.) as well as the recipients’ names on the card for your child or you can have the names and messages pre-printed and cut out so your child can glue them on with your help. Also, having small photos of the recipients that your child can glue along with the person’s name will help your child understand why they are creating their card, who it is for and who to give the card to (a great way to address Theory of Mind skills). Here is a cute example of a handmade valentine. The parent let the child color and paint on regular paper and then took her child’s art and cut it into heart shapes:
Kindergarten through second grade: Your child will love picking out Valentine’s Day cards. Allow your child to go to the store with you and pick out which cards they want to pass out to their friends. If your child gets overwhelmed with crowds or a lot of choices, then you may want to look online at a few options and have your child choose a specific type of card or special character they want on their card (Scooby Doo, Dora, Buzz Lightyear) in advance. This way when you get to the store, you can decrease your child’s anxiety and only search for that specific card or character.
Once you get home, allow your child to decide which friend gets which card. A fun idea is to have a list of your child’s friends’ or classmates’ names written out and then next to each name write their favorite color (Alex – blue, Carrie – pink, Ryan – green). This will serve as a nice visual support to help your child think about each of their friends and then decide who gets what card (an excellent way to address Theory of Mind skills).
Sometimes writing may be difficult for our kids. Some easy modifications to make include having your child trace each name or you can have all the names prewritten or typed. Then each name can be cut out and your child can glue the names on each card or envelope. If your child is working on computer skills, he or she can help you type out the names. Here is a website where you can create your own tracing pages: http://www.kidzone.ws/tracers/none/index.asp. You can also create stickers with your child’s name and their friends’ names. Type out each name and print on mailing labels: http://www.staples.com/Avery-5260-White-Laser-Address-Labels-with-Easy-P....
Third grade and up: Older children may also enjoy going to the store and picking out the Valentine cards that they like. They may need some of the same supports as the younger children to help them with this process. Some kids may like to make their own custom-made cards on the computer. DLTK has a very cool interactive program for kids to make a variety of different greeting cards, including valentines. They can choose their theme, graphics, greeting and more: http://www.dltk-cards.com/custom.htm . Have your child write out a list of the friends and family members they want to make cards for. Then list out some of the people’s favorite things (color, animal, shape). This will help your child be able to tailor each custom-made card for the recipient (great way to work on Theory of Mind skills).
Valentine’s Day Presents
Valentine’s Day is all about love and showing the people in your life that you love them. Love can be a difficult abstract concept, especially for children and adults with ASD. Valentine presents can be fun way to address understanding and expressing love towards the people in our lives.
Preschoolers: First pick a few people that you want your child to give something special to. Think about who your child sees on a daily basis and who is the most familiar to your child. This may be just your immediate family (mom, dad, sister, brother), which is a great place to start. Next, have your child color or paint hearts. Here is an online heart template page that’s ready to print: http://www.coloringcastle.com/pdfs/hearts/100-hearts.pdf. Then, on a piece of paper, write
“I YOU” while leaving a space for the heart. Next, have your child glue a heart in the space between “I” and “YOU” to signify love. Then, have them glue a picture of the person the gift is to as well as a picture of whom it is from. Such as:
Next, think of something small that your child can give the people they love: a flower, a picture, candy, etc. Then, have them paste their “I Love You” message on the gift. Last, help your child give each person their gift and work on them saying either their name (“Dad”, “Mom”) or “love”.
Kindergarten through second grade: For this group you want to give them more independence and control over the Valentine’s Day present process. First, let them decide who they want to give their gift to. You may have to limit their number (three people, five people, etc.) or you may have to help them get started on their list. Next, allow them to decide what they want to pass out. You may need to give them a price range ($1.00 to $5.00) and you may have to help them get started on their list. Third, have them create an “I Love You” card/page/saying for each person. Try to get them to do something different for each person. You may want to have a list of the people and then the things that they like (i.e., Mom – pink, flowers, coffee, etc.). Next, have them decide what they will say when they give their gift to this person. Last, allow them to deliver their presents to each person.
Third Grade and up: We also want to give older children increased independence with gift giving during Valentine’s Day. Many of them will benefit from the same supports described for the younger elementary children. An additional fun idea is to celebrate their friendships and relationships within their valentine presents. They could give a framed photograph from a fun event (your child could help decorate the picture frame and choose which photo to use). They could give a fun token of their love or friendship to share such as a matching piece of jewelry, a matching keychain or matching hair accessory. They could give something that they enjoy doing together with their friend or family member such as a ticket to a movie or a sporting event. They could even make a handmade coupon book giving coupons to their friend or family member for things they could do together (coupons for going on a walk together, going to the mall together, having a play date or sleepover, making a batch of cookies, etc.). Help your child brainstorm ideas for each friend or family member they would like to give a gift to.
Enjoy celebrating love and friendships while making the most out of this Valentine’s Day with your child and family!
~Laura & Amanda