Heart-Shaped Valentine's Day Crafts

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Holidays, Cabin Fever

I'll admit it: Cabin Fever is not a Craft Queen. But every year our dining room table turns into a factory for mass Valentine production. The children bring home class lists, we clear crafting space and then set about making a Valentine for everyone on the lists, plus teachers, plus a few extras to give to family and friends.

And it's a heck of a lot of fun.

Our family's art cupboard is crammed to overflowing with supplies: construction paper, scrap paper, old magazines and birthday cards from years gone by, trays of watercolours and scraggly-looking paint brushes, yogurt containers, dried-out glue sticks, half-emptied bottles of white glue, tubes of silver sparkles, mostly used sticker sheets, bits of leather and felt, and loose pipe cleaners that are bound to jab a person when she starts digging into the dark recesses where lurk the elusive pair of safety scissors that will actually cut paper. We have crayons and coloured pencils and the odd marker that still has a hint of life in it (and a lid).

There's more, but you get the picture.

It's out of this jumble of raw material that heaps of Valentines will arise. Even if the pink and red construction paper has already been used up...
Nothing says Valentine's Day like a heart. And even a small child capable of wielding scissors can cut out a heart shape. So here's where our production line starts: Using half a piece of construction paper, fold it in half, trace a half-heart shape starting and ending on the folded edge, and cut it out. You can cut out a template and children can trace their own. Many small hearts can be made out of the larger scraps, and used to decorate the big heart shape. Hearts can be any colour. Mix and match. Think past pink.

This is your heart-shaped base, onto which much can be added, as desired.

If the child finds it difficult to print, keep the message simple. To: friend's name. From: child's name. Happy Valentine's Day! Printing that twenty times over is more than enough for some children. (And our youngest prints only her own name--a parent takes care of the rest.)

This is where your project could end. (And it has, in years past, for us.)

But this year, we've added a few extra elements to our basic design. We're digging through the box of old birthday cards and cutting out funny-looking characters: a grinning friendly monster; a snowman; a sparkly girl holding a guitar. We use these to personalize each card, taping or gluing them on to the heart-shaped base. "Happy Valentine's Day!" works, but children get a kick out of devising funnier, more individually representative messages. Think rhymes or puns, or just plain silly.

Snowman inspires: "You melt my heart!" Sparkly guitar girl declares: "You rock!" A dinosaur says: "You're dino-mite!" If you don't have a box of old cards, pictures can be cut from magazines, or you can use stickers.

My children consider their cards incomplete without an attached treat (it's a good idea to check your school's policy, and always choose nut-free items). For the past few years, we've gone with lollipops, but non-candy-related ideas include: un-sharpened pencils decorated with hearts, dollar store animal figures, or a scroll of stickers. Tiny treats can be tucked into heart-shaped pockets. In the past, we've simply taped a treat onto the card.

This year, we're attaching our lollipops by poking two holes into the card, about an inch apart, and sliding the lollipop's stick through (using tape, attach the stick to the back and front of the card). With a bit of creative lollipop placement, it can look like the character is holding the treat. But poking holes can be tricky -- and for younger children, potentially dangerous. Mama attached a lot of lollipops this year, truth be told (though our seven-year-old enjoyed the challenge).

If glue has been used, allow ample drying time before storing cards in a Ziploc bag for transport to school. Our Valentine's projects are often completed in stages over several days: cutting out bales of hearts; gluing and pasting; writing messages; attaching treats. It may be a long process, but it's an entertaining one, too.

Have a monstrously fun Valentine's Day!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.