While parents have long tried to quell their children’s fixated gaze on screens, their efforts have begun to wane in the face of omnipresent technological needs. Screens are no longer just for video games and Nickelodeon, they have become virtual schools and social platforms. Technology isn’t going away anytime soon, but we can’t forget the importance and power of immersive artistic outlets. No matter your child’s age, crafts offer a multitude of benefits: they inspire creativity, invigorate the senses, and assist in motor development. Here is a list of Valentine’s Day themed arts and crafts to try with your child:

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bins for Little Littles

Sensory bins are typically best for children ages 1-4, however, this is just a suggestion!

A sensory bin is a larger, often plastic tub filled with items that are intended to stimulate the senses. Sensory bins are excellent for very young children who may get flustered or lose interest in more structured, sequenced projects. The items in a sensory bin are selected to stimulate a child’s sight, hearing, touch, smell, and (with extra supervision) taste. 

For a Valentine’s Day sensory bin for your little one, you will need the following items:

*The amount of each depends on the size of your container

  • Pink or plain rice
    • For dyed pink rice, shake ⅛ teaspoon of pink food coloring, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and one cup of rice in a ziploc bag. Shake until evenly distributed. Pour out onto a cookie sheet and let dry. The dry time may take a few hours to a full day to completely dry out. I recommend using at least 3 cups, but use what you have.

Tip: Lining your cookie sheet with paper towels can cut dry time down.

  • Tools to scoop the rice and gather smaller items, for example:
    • Rubber tongs
    • Clothespins 
    • Gator Grabbers 
    • Spoons 

*This portion of a sensory bin is excellent practice for your child’s fine motor skills. Frequent practice with this can help with pencil grip and future penmanship. 

  • Heart shaped silicone cupcake liners or red and pink plastic cups
  • Conversation hearts
  • Pink and red pom poms
    • You can find these at the Dollar Tree, local craft stores, or online.  

To assemble, have your little one help you pour materials into a tub. After this step, simply enjoy and observe your child play. Encourage rich vocabulary and inquisitive language, e.g. “The rice feels dry and soft to touch, I wonder how it would sound if I poured it out of this cup. What did you hear?” 

Tidy Tie Dye Putty

Much to tidy parents’ dismay, the slime craze shows no signs of stopping. Luckily there is DIY putty; a cleaner version of slime that is moldable and super soft. 

To make putty, you will need:

  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 3-4 ounces of unscented lotion
  • 1-2 drops of red food coloring
  • 1-2 drops of essential oils (optional)
    • I recommend lavender for a calming effect.

To create your putty:

  1. Knead the lotion and cornstarch together until a dough is formed. If it feels too sticky, add a pinch of cornstarch. 
  2. Separate your dough into two balls.
  3. In one ball, mix together one-two drops of food coloring and incorporate until it changes color. Keep the other ball undyed. 
  4. Mix the undyed ball and pink ball together for a marbled effect.
  5. Optional: Mix together a drop or two of your favorite essential oil.
  6. Bonus: Because putty is so much cleaner than regular slime, your child can use this as a fidget/calming tool when they are learning from home, doing homework, or reading. Be sure to okay it with their teacher first for school use!

Love Bugs

Love Bugs are adorable little critters that are easy to make. These make great Valentine’s Day gifts for your children’s friends as well.

You will need: 

  • Desired amount of Pom poms, preferably red or pink
    • *You can reuse pom poms from the sensory bin
  • 1 package of small googly eyes
  • Pink or red felt 
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue or regular Elmer’s Glue 
  • Pipe cleaners (optional)

To create 1 “Love Bug”: 

  1. Cut a small heart out of the felt that is slightly larger than the diameter of your pom poms. However, they can really be whatever size you choose. 
  2. Put a dot of glue in the center of your felt heart. 
  3. Press the pom pom onto the glue and hold for a few seconds.
  4. The circular upper part of the heart is the base/feet of the Love Bug. This is the front.
  5. Select two googly eyes and glue to the front of the pom pom.
  6. Optional: Glue pipe cleaners in heart shapes or spirals for antennas.

 And there you have it, a Love Bug.

Candy Jewelry

What’s better than candy jewelry for Valentine’s Day? Kids can create beautiful necklaces and bracelets for themselves and friends using gummy hearts and gummy bears. You can use a needle to create a hole in a soft gummy candy and they will look like real beads.
To make candy jewelry, this is what you’ll need:
  • String of your choice
  • Gummy candy of your choice (it’s nice to have a variety)
  • Scissors
  • Needle
To create your candy jewelry:
  1. If you are using any candy that needs a hole added, make sure to do so ahead of time instead of having a needle lying around. It will also be less stressful for you in the moment.
  2. Lay everything out so the kids can see their choices.
  3. Cut the string for them into appropriate sizes.
  4. After they have strung up their masterpiece, help them put a knot into the string.