Once your baby is on the move, the keys to sanity are naptime (no news there), the occasional big glass of wine (ditto), and good, old-fashioned fun. What better fun is there for little ones than activities that stimulate their imaginations and help develop their fine motor skills? Sounds very … calculating. But it really is just about loving your time together. With Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, here are some fun, festive activities for your little one and you.
1. Make and decorate Valentine cookies. One of my little guy’s favorite activities is making and decorating holiday cookies. To be honest, for him, it is more about cutting out and decorating than the baking, but he will sit still for a good five to ten minutes to help me measure and pour ingredients into the mixer. Once the dough is chilled and ready, he returns, cookie cutters in hand, to cut out shapes and place them on the cookie sheet. And, of course, there is the frosting and decorating itself. He spreads the frosting with his little spatula and dumps sparkles and sprinkles and pareils in clumps and lumps all over the cookies. And he is pleased as punch while doing so. Sure, the cookies are their own form of perfect. They are often mangled, and the frosting, like beauty, is typically lovely only to the eye of the besotted. And there is the mess, which can be hard for this compulsively clean parent to handle. But it is well worth it to watch his enthusiasm and eat those tasty cookies.
In need of a great (and easy) sugar cookie recipe? Here's one I love.
Also, if the thought of the mess is daunting, try putting cooling rack in a jellyroll pan or over aluminum foil, then frost and sprinkle over that. The pan catches the excess and makes clean up much easier.
2. Make special Valentines for family and friends. One of my favorite things to do is make homemade Valentine’s for family and friends. When my little guy was an infant, we painted his hands and feet for projects constantly. As a toddler, he is more interested in stickers, cutting, gluing, and playing with textures. A simple google search for "Valentines crafts for infants and toddlers" led me to a perfect Pinterest board, which hundreds of links to infant and toddler crafts. Here are a few fun designs:
3. Make Valentine decorations for your house. The same Pinterest board also led me to Valentine decoration crafts your little one can make for your home.
4. Valentine exploration activities. There are also tons of sites that help you find developmentally-supportive, educational Valentine activities. For example, the Schooling Active Monkey’s site, a site that encourages and models STEAM activities, has an entire page dedicated to Valentine fine motor activities. So does Early Learning Ideas and Simple Play Ideas. These sites and others easily found on that Pinterest board teach you how to make Valentine sensory bins, playdough heart decoration activities, touch and feel sensory hearts, and other Valentine’s Day projects designed to help your little one explore and play.
5. Spread the cheer. Our neighborhood has a sporadic, but kinda cool tradition of “hit and run” holiday surprises. It started one year when the doorbell rang and no one was there when we answered. There were, however, clues of a very special visit. White baking soda paste rabbit footprints and some candy eggs let us know the Easter Bunny had stopped by. Another year, we opened to find freshly baked batch of Christmas cookies. Once, a bottle of Halloween wine. (Who knew there was such a thing?!) Anyway, why not start a tradition of neighborhood cheer with your kiddos this holiday? Maybe leave one of your fantastic cookies and homemade Valentines?