Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. I thought I’d post some of the Montessori activities for wee ones and some general activities and crafts and recipes as well.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
These first activities require a little assistance from Mom or Dad, so they are not available at all times.
Coffee filter cut-out hearts–I found this activity at Artful Parent. Very easy–cut coffee filters into hearts, then cut out shapes like you would a snowflake, then paint with watercolors. Just remember to paint sparingly or the coffee filter will tear. You could also leave the cut hearts white and then paint some coffee filter hearts that did not have cut outs. Both would look nice in a window.
Tissue paper stained glass hearts–My Montessori Journey (you’ll have to scroll down on the page to find the activity) has the most wonderful ideas! Several of these from February 2010 made their way to my shelves, including this one. Basically, cut small squares of tissue paper and allow the kids to stick them to a smallish square of clear contact paper that has the backing removed. Once finished, I put another piece of contact paper on top, cut them in heart shapes, and hung them in the window.
Heart stencils. I drew around all my heart-shaped cookie cutters, using a file fodder to make the stencil strong enough to stand up to paint and pencils in little hands. I showed them how to use stencils with paints and let them have at it. I think they had fun, don’t you?
A book I really like and my kids enjoy as well is Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda. You can find it at most libraries or here if you want to buy it. It tells the story of St. Valentine with lovely pictures. Just so you know, this is a sad but uplifting book. The physician was a believer in Jesus, and was martyred for his faith. Personally, I want my children to understand the cost some people paid to follow Christ, but this needs to be up to you and your family. We prefer to focus on the love we have for our family members, and showing the love of Jesus to others, as opposed to cupid and that kind of love at Valentines. That being said, here are some activities going on my Montessori shelf.
Water transfer–I used water tinted with food coloring, a bottle and dropper, and one of those plastic bathtub treads with tiny suction cups. Once turned upside down, they are perfect for little hands to fill. Make sure you include a little sponge to allow the children to help in the clean up. This is a great activity to strengthen hand and finger muscles for writing.
Shape sorting–one of my daughters got these plastic jewels as a gift and they work very well for sorting. They are pretty to look at and using the tweezers strengthens the muscles and coordination in preparation for writing.
Feather transfer–another idea from My Montessori Journey. I used some feathers, a heart bucket and a little clothes pin. Feathers are irresistible to kids. I had plenty of volunteers to demonstrate this activity!
Spooning sand–my daughter got this glass heart-shaped bottle at Michael’s. She had made a design with different colored sands, but it shifted and all the colors combined. I took it all out, added a funnel, spoon and bowl and let the kids fill up the jar. Once it’s full they dump the sand back into the bowl. There’s also a tiny sweeper and dustpan to clean up any sand they spill.
Of course, making pink and white play dough and using heart cookie cutters would be fun too. Take these ideas and look around your house and see what you have available to use. Or run to the Dollar store or the Michael’s or Joannes near you. Most of this stuff is really cheap–tissue paper, coffee filters, water-color paints, feathers. The glass bottles and droppers I purchased from Montessori Services. They are quite useful, inexpensive and the kids love using them in a variety of activities.
One of my favorite recipes, other than sugar cookies in the shape of hearts, is peppermint patties. They are so easy and I cut mine into heart shapes before I dip them in chocolate for a seasonal look. Of course they’re quite tasty left round too:). They require peppermint oil instead of peppermint extract, but you can probably find it in the cake decorating department at Michael’s or Joanne’s. If you live in Nashville, I got mine at Sugar Drop on Church Street in Brentwood. It takes very little peppermint oil because it is so strong, but it lasts a long time too.
Meringues are quite yummy as well. Either flavored with peppermint or chocolate, you can pipe them into heart shapes, and even tint them pink. Just don’t try to make these on a humid or rainy day. Too much moisture in the air will not allow the egg whites to inflate properly and you’ll have sad meringues. For peppermint meringues, just use a plain meringue recipe, but add 1/2 tsp peppermint extract(not oil) and a bit of red food coloring. I like mine soft on the inside, instead of chalky, so I cook my meringues at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes or so, which is a lot less than the two hours many people do. If you want to make them even yummier, melt some dark chocolate chips and smear them on the flat side of the meringue, then leave the flat side facing up until the chocolate dries. Yummy!
I hope you can take some of these ideas and use them with your kids. Be creative with what you have! Improvise and just have fun with your kids–that’s really what it’s all about, right?