Valentine's Day Decorations to Make with Your Little Sweetheart

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Another holiday means another round of crafting fun with Gv.  We made decorations for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween; now we're getting our creative (and messy) juices flowing for Valentine's Day.

Although I've loved creating all kinds of hand and footprint art with Gv these last few months (give the girl a writing implement and she immediately starts tracing appendages!), I wanted to try and branch out a bit and try something different.  

I even (gasp) got out the paint...

We went with the obvious and turned everything we could into a heart.  Turns out, pretty much anything you do (see failed projects below) end up looking pretty cute when transformed into a heart!

I started with the easiest project possible because I was foolish enough to think I could gather supplies for these crafts while Gv was roaming free...

That was a mistake.

After many, many minutes of picking up minuscule pom‐poms off the floor following liberation from their storage‐box home by Little Miss Explorer, I realized I needed to just go ahead and get her started on something she could do by herself:

Sticker Hearts

So what is the easiest project possible?  Sticker Hearts!  The directions are so ridiculously simple, I almost don't want to type them out, but here goes...

1.  Hand your child some heart stickers and a piece of paper:

Biggest chance of mess with this project: stickers in the hair or on the body, but just look at that smile!

One of the best parts of this project is that your child gets to control where the stickers go.

2.  Cut a heart (or two, depending on your paper size) out of that stickeredup paper:

I was right, wasn't I?  It's so easy, but turns out really cute!


Gv and I worked on all these Valentine's creations over three separate days.  That's partly because of the length of her attention span, and partly because I needed that much preparation time in order to be able to face the prospect of paint in the hands of a toddler.

Our second project involved markers.  Sure, markers are messy.  They end up somewhat on the paper, but mostly all over the legs and arms (and face) of your child, but it all washes off so easily, I'm not too intimidated.  I also throw down our fabulous shower curtain liner as a drop cloth, so marker never ends up anywhere else it's not supposed to.

I guess if you have a "runner," then things might not be so simple.  I've taught Gv to set markers and pens down if she's leaving the footprint of the shower curtain liner so we don't have any issues.  I have to say, I think always putting the large swatch of plastic down on the floor when we're doing something artsy helps her to understand and defines the limits of where the art "happens" in our house.

So, back to the butterflies.  First, have your child draw on a piece of white paper:

You might want to limit the colors used for this to just Valentine's colors.  I didn't think of that until later, but I ended up happy with her complete freedom with the marker box, because I really liked the end result.
Next, turn the paper over and trace a bunch of hearts all over it, especially making sure to cover the areas with the most/best drawing.  I cut a small heart pattern out of a piece of paper and then traced the hearts close together so that I could wind up with matching hearts for the wings:

Finally, pair up the hearts to create your butterfly wings.  You could easily turn this idea into a card, but we just made a poster on a full sheet of pink construction paper.  We're still using the paper that I'd had in my classroom craft stash, but when it runs out, I'm excited to get some of this Crayola construction paper, since it has such bright, vivid colors.

I set the "wings" down on the paper at different angles and then cut little snips of red construction paper (I just cut up the edge of a piece we were using next) for the butterfly body.  I wasn't even in the mood to mess with glue this day, so I just rolled up a small piece of tape, put it on the back of the body, and then stuck that down over the tips of the overlapping wings.

I added the antennae and the flight paths, along with the phrase "You Make My Heart Flutter!"

I just adore how this one turned out.  We've got it hanging on the mantle and it makes me smile each time I see it.

Heart Hands

I couldn't resist sneaking one hand cutout craft into the mix and this just turned out so neat!

I will say that it was a little tricky getting Gv to line her hand up correctly along the folded edge of the paper.  In the past, I've just been cutting out single hands, so the placement hasn't mattered.

For this to work, though, you'll need to fold your paper in half and have your child place his or her thumb and forefinger right up next to the crease.  Also, the thumb needs to be curved a bit.  I didn't get Gv's curved enough the first time, so we needed a doover, which turned out okay because I was able to find a use for those hand cutouts at a later point.

When I finally got her thumb curved correctly, the tip of it went off the paper.  That turned out to be just fine, though, so expect it to happen when you try it.  Trace the hand and then cut out everything except where the fingers touch the fold:

Initially, I let Gv color the paper so that the hands would be decorated.

However, when it was time for me to hang this project up, I decided I liked the look of the clean hands better ‐ which do you prefer?
I liked how these turned out so much, I almost made one for G with my hands.  But then we started to experience a cloth diaper failure and all things crafty ground to a halt for the day...

Paper Plate Heart

A new day, a new start with the art.  Like yesterday, I wanted something a little easier and more independent for Gv to work on right away because I once again waited until the last minute to gather supplies.

You'd think I'd have learned from the day before, but nope, it takes me a while for things like that to sink in...

I sat the girl down at her little table with her new set of triangular crayons ‐ an awesome Christmas gift from Grammy and Grandpa that promotes a proper writing grip (which is great, since I have a totally improper writing grip, myself!) along with a paper plate:

I still hadn't thought to limit her color choices to pinks, reds and purples, but again, I was glad in the end.
Once the coloring stage is complete, fold the paper plate in half (color side in).  Draw a heart in the center part (don't draw all the way to the tip) and then draw a circular "frame" around the edge, kind of along the bottom edge of the bumps:

Cut out along your pen lines, being careful not to cut through the bottom tip:

I put this in a window next to the front door.  Gv shouts out "heart!" whenever she walks by and I really like how the light shines through the part that's cut out.

I still hadn't mustered up enough courage to tackle the painting projects by day two, so we went ahead and postponed the rest of the ideas until the next day...

Coffee Filter Hearts

I think this might have been my favorite process out of all the others.  Gv really enjoyed playing with the eyedropper and water and it wasn't too messy, since I used just a little cup for the water.

I first gave Gv a coffee filter and some markers (I finally remembered to just give her just the Valentine‐type colors!) and let her go to town drawing all over the filter.

Next, I just barely filled a small plastic cup with some water, gave her an eye dropper, then showed her how to use it to drip water onto the coffee filter: 

She really got a kick out of watching the marker colors run when the water dripped onto the filter!

All that was left was to cut the coffee filter into a heart:

Torn Paper Heart

This idea was similar to the foil snowflakes we did for Christmas.  I first gave Gv several small pieces of red and pink construction paper and showed her how to tear them into little pieces (great for the development of fine motor skills and loads of fun, too!):

Then I squeezed out some glue onto the center of a sheet of white construction paper in the shape of a heart (filling in the center a bit).  I let Gv dump the red and pink pieces onto the glue heart, lifted the paper to make all the stray bits fall off, and then sprinkled these extra scraps over the spots of glue I could still see peeking through.

I added the phrase "I love you to pieces" and we were done:

This idea would make a great card, but we turned ours into a poster

Thumbprint Hearts

Have you noticed that I still haven't gotten the paint out yet?  

Well, hey, I had gotten out some water...and glue...and this next project would use a stamp pad.
Baby steps, baby steps. 

For this project, you just need a stamp pad and some paper, along with some thumbs.  I made a card myself first ‐ so Gv could see how it was done, but mainly so I could try it out first myself.  I thought this idea was really cute:

Then I handed Gv her own stamp pad and paper and let her have at it, but she was just a bit too young to create those little hearts, even when I tried helping her.  This is what her version looked like:

I came to the conclusion that this project is probably a bit too advanced for a toddler (or at least one on the younger side), but I definitely plan to try it again when she's older.

Hand Heart

Although Gv's thumbprint hearts didn't quite turn out, I didn't want to waste all those cute fingerprints, so I got to thinking about how to turn this card into something else.  I remembered those first heart hands that didn't work correctly, so I matched them up to make kind of a heart out of them:

"I hold your heart in my hands" is the phrase I've been batting around for this, do you have any other ideas?

Toilet Paper Roll Stamped Hearts

This is another project that will work better next year, when Gv's just a little older, but I'm glad we went ahead and tried it this year, because she enjoyed the process so much.

Start by taking an empty toilet paper roll and bending it into a heart shape.  Stick a piece of tape across the "humps" of the heart to help it hold its shape.

Then, drizzle a little red paint onto a plate and smear one edge of the "stamper" over it to get it all coated:

Show your child how to stamp a heart onto the page:

Gv ended up dragging the stamper across the paper (kind of like a paintbrush) and it all just looked like a big red mess, so I decided to cut out the hearts were recognizable and tape those onto the window next to our door:

Painted Heart

I originally planned to let Gv finger paint this project, but since she really wasn't interested in using her fingers, I decided to let her use a brush.

Take a sheet of construction paper and scatter drops of different color paint blobs across it.  Then let your child move the paint around:

Cut the paper into a heart and you're done:

Love Hand Prints

So I'd saved the messiest painting project for last and had to laugh when it was all over, because you know what?  The paint wasn't really that bad to deal with. 

Pretty much the same cleanup as markers and so I've decided not to shy away from painting projects again in the future. 

I started to name this craft "Negative Love Hand Prints," but realized that wouldn't sound too lovely.  The word love will, however, be created by a negative painting technique.

Begin by taping the word "LOVE" onto a paper, making the "O" into a heart:

Next, paint your child's hands and show them how to press them all over the page.  

After the first round of this, Gv wanted to paint her own hands ‐ and are you ready for this?  I let her!

Encourage your child to really cover the page fully.  Once again, I think Gv was just a tad too young to do this really effectively, but I'm sure by next year, she'll have no problem adding more hand prints to the page.  

I still thought the paper looked cute:

After the paint dried and I removed the tape, however, I discovered why it's so important to really cover the page in paint:

I ended up just recycling this project, because you really couldn't tell what it said.  The process of this project was so great for Gv, however, that I would do it again, even knowing that it wouldn't turn out in the end.  I'd probably not bother with the tape, though, which would mean this craft wouldn't need to be for Valentine's but just for a random day when you're feeling brave enough to drag out the paint (and I promise, it's not that messy!)

So there you have it, a whole passel of fun Valentine's decorations to make with your little sweetheart this year.  I hope you and your little cupid have fun trying them out yourselves!
Do you have any other Valentine's Day crafts or decorations that you've enjoyed creating with your toddler?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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