What's a toddler's love language? Quality time.
The world is pushing candy and cute pink-and-red shirts on us for Valentine's Day, but we think there's no better way to celebrate with a toddler than to spend time together.
Offering activities that challenge your little one at just their level helps them get into a state of flow. This means they can really build their concentration and focus muscles. 💪
Montessori activities typically emphasize independence, but for Valentine's Day, we are suggesting projects that involve collaborating.
These activities promote bonding -- with an added bonus of developing your child’s fine motor skills.
This season, our Monti Kids Learning Team shares activities centered around the theme of love. Read on!
Valentine's Day Activities for Toddlers
Nature-based Valentine Decorations
Walk with your child through your neighborhood or explore your own backyard as they collect petals, flowers, leaves, and sticks into a bucket or resealable bag. Bring their treasures inside to create a collage on a pre-cut cardboard heart.
This is a language-building activity as you can discuss the real names of plants. Say, “Let’s glue the pink rose petal to the heart.” Your child expands their vocabulary by simply absorbing your words!
For babies who are able to support themselves by sitting independently and reaching with two hands, this activity from @Our.Montessori.Journey can be for Valentine's Day -- or any day! Place a variety of ribbons within your baby's reach and let her practice her fine motor skill coordination by grasping them.
You can tie ribbons anywhere - to doorknobs or the outside of a bed frame!
Valentine's Themed Transfer Station
Transferring is classic Montessori work that engages children and requires focus. You can make it fresh each season by changing up the color scheme or materials. All you need are two vessels and a utensil such as a spoon or tongs. @SonnysMontessori shared a pink and purple rice version. Try dried beans, store-bought pompoms, or simply water!
Inviting your child to participate in kitchen activities allows your little one to make a real contribution to the family. Your child will feel a sense of importance and belonging as they create a Valentine’s-themed sandwich to share with someone they love.
A heart-shaped sandwich is a great multi-step process for little ones to practice following, which will build a foundation for executive functioning.
Executive functioning is a term often used in Montessori. It’s the ability to focus on a bigger picture, plan ahead, as well as regulate emotions and impulses. Activities with multiple steps allow little ones to practice these skills in a prepared setting and environment. As they mature and grow into academic students and ultimately adults in the workforce these are the skills that are the most important to be successful and productive.
(This activity can be simplified for younger children by removing steps and pre-slicing the strawberries.)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhyrH69vF7A&feature=youtu.be Related Story: Lessons on
Children get excited about the act of giving and caring for others. The act of creating a bouquet can allow for a rich language lesson as you talk about which flowers Grandma loves. For example, talk with your child about the flowers using the specific names, “Grandma really loves red roses and pink tulips, let’s use those for her bouquet.”
Montessori expert Stacy Keane from our Monti Kids Learning Team says, "Finding an opportunity for your child to hand-deliver their bouquet to the recipient will allow for the experiences of expressing gratitude and love."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O4dsmtrRqw
To work on fine motor skills, invite your child to pour water into a wide neck vase or jar. Pre-cutting the flowers, and removing steps can set younger children up for success.
Reading Books About Love
Snuggling up with your child can create a bonding experience as you read books with the theme of love. Stopping in at your local library is an easy way to incorporate seasonally-themed books into your child’s rotation. In Montessori, we look for books with accurate depictions of real life.
Suggestions from our Learning Team, linked to our affiliate Amazon.com for your convenience:
- 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox
- Smiling by Gweneth Swain
- Mommy Hugs by Anne Gutman
- Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman
- I Love You, a Baby Touch + Feel book by DK
- In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
See more book titles loved by our Montessori experts >
Even your youngest Valentine’s can get in on the fun this season by creating a Valentine keepsake! It’s best to attempt creating a handprint or footprint when your baby is well-rested and well-fed. Using a brush to apply non-toxic paint to your child’s hand or foot tends to work better than dipping. Also make sure to have extra supplies, as this isn’t always the easiest activity to perfect on the first try!
The project pictured above is detailed at JustBeeBlog.com
With a bit of red or pink construction paper, you can add pre-cut hearts to the Monti Kids Gluing Set, which comes with the glue and paper shapes pictured above in our Level 8 Montessori Box for Toddlers. Be sure to include a variety of small hearts along with a larger heart. You can show your child how to apply a small amount of glue to the smaller hearts, before adding them to the large heart. Then invite your child to display their heart-shaped Valentine proudly in your home as you express gratitude for their work.