It’s that time of year again, folks. Valentine’s Day!
I actually really like Valentine’s Day. Yes, I love the times my husband and I are able to do something romantic, but with a lot of little kids in a short time that isn’t always doable. Whether or not my husband and I get time away, though, I always take time to do fun Valentine’s Day themed activities with my kids. I mean, it’s a day about love and I do LOVE my children, and I want them to love others, so focusing on love for school is perfect. Plus, Valentine’s Day means candy, and there are SO many fun activities to do with candy! ;D
In the past my problem with Valentine’s Day activities has been that there are so many fun ideas and it gets stressful to try to squeeze them all into one day. This year the solution hit me, why not use it as a theme for our whole week? That’s the beauty of homeschooling, right? We get to have fun by choosing to stretch holidays out over an entire week if we want to! I figured while I was busy putting together my plans for the week I might as well share it with you folks, so here you go. Here is my mini unit for Valentine’s week. It includes STEM activities, language arts, Bible stories, music, and even a free scripture memorization printable! As a side note, I am listing activities by the days of the week we will be doing them. Don’t feel tied to that. Feel free to add, subtract, or rearrange the activities as it works best for your family. As homeschoolers it is so easy to let ourselves feel trapped by curriculum and plans, but there is no need to. Use what works and forget the rest!
Valentine’s Week Mini Unit
We read our Bible story each day of the week. On Fridays I have us retell the story together instead of reading it. This is a great chance to see how well they have learned the story and for them to practice retelling something in their own words. I find that hearing it repeated each day helps it to really sink in and also makes my kids more likely to ask deep questions as the week goes on. The first day or two they are just getting the gist of the story, but after that they can think more about the nuances of what is happening. You would be surprised how deep of questions you can get from even young children! Since my children are still young we use The Beginner’s Bible for our Bible story time. Feel free to use whatever works best for you.
For Valentine’s week we will be focusing on Ruth and Naomi. The book of Ruth is actually one of my favorite books of the Bible because of the selfless love depicted by all of the people involved. What better lesson could there be to teach over Valentine’s week than selfless love for their family!
Each week we do some songs together. It gets us up and moving to break up more ‘mellow’ work like Bible time and our picture book, it gets the kids good practice with music and rhythm, and the rhyming patterns in many songs are great pre-reading activities!
For this mini unit I picked songs about God’s love for us and our love for God.
Scripture memorization is something we have been making a much greater focus on in school. Memory work is good for all children. As this article discusses there are a number of benefits to memory work for both children and adults. It helps brains grow and develop in a number of wash and even offers protections against future cognitive issues. If I’m going to have my children do memory work anyway, as a Christian it only makes sense to have that focus on memorizing scripture. Having the word of God stored in their minds and their hearts will help my children grow in their faith. One big tip I have for working on memorization with kids is to break it into smaller chunks and add a bit more each day, rather than trying to memorize the whole thing right from the start. This tip works just as well for adults!
For our Valentine’s unit I chose a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 (the ‘love chapter’) to memorize.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
As a special Valentine’s gift to you all I have a free printable this verse and some tips for helping kids to painlessly memorize it. Just sign up with your email on the scollbox that will pop up on this post and you will get access!
Each week we read a new book. Much like our Bible story, we read the same picture book all week. It gives us time to delve deeply into the story, talk about the characters, and focus on the lessons from the story.
Finding a book I liked for our Valentine’s unit was a bit more difficult than I expected. I didn’t just want a book about people giving each other cards and chocolates. I wanted something that truly focused on love in some way, because showing love to others is really what I want them to learn to focus on. After a bit of looking around I found this sweet book called Heartprints. It’s about how the kind things we do for others touch their hearts and can stay with them forever.
For the sake of preparing things in advanced I planned specific Valentine’s-themed activities for each day and am listing them out like that here. That is what worked best for our family. Do NOT feel tied to following our schedule, or doing all of the activities we did. Remember, you do what works best for your family. Do one, some, or all of the activities on whichever days fit your schedule best.
Admittedly, this activity took a bit of prep work. I spent about 90 minutes tracing little hearts, cutting them out, writing matching things on them, and cutting them apart. I don’t think it would normally take this long, though. I had the added delays of doing it for 4 kids (each with a different type of matching activity), while snuggling a sleeping (and occasionally breastfeeding) baby. Really this activity could be used for so many subjects. Math facts, counting, shapes, color matching, letters, phonics, rhyming, etc.
The kids all seemed to enjoy their puzzles Kayla (almost 8) matched rhyming words, Aidan (6) matched upper and lower case letters, Milo (4) matched numbers and dots, and Elizabeth (2) just had pieces to play with.
OH MY GOODNESS these were fun! The kids and I all had a blast launching M&Ms across the table. The catapults really are quite simple to make. If you have young children they will need some help simply because it takes a bit of dexterity to wrap the rubber bands around the sticks tightly enough for the catapult to work. We don’t do a ton of STEM activities, but this is a nice way to ease into them.
I HIGHLY recommend this activity! We had such a great time, especially when Aidan discovered you could launch multiple M&Ms at the same time! Then he figured out he could launch his Legos. One day soon I’m expecting to see some part of his dinner he doesn’t like launched across the table from a hidden catapult!
I thought this might be a fun twist on the traditional Valentine’s Day card. I thought it was creative to trace their hands and turn them into the sign for ‘I love you’. All but one of my kids went with the plan for what to do with their traced hands. My oldest decided she only wanted a handprint in her card and couldn’t be convinced to do it any other way. Not only do they get to work on arts and crafts by making cards, those who are old enough get to practice their handwriting, too.
Small tip, if you have several kids you are doing this for, trace and cut out their handprints ahead of time. It will make your life MUCH easier when you are trying to help them make the actual cards! I think my favorite part was seeing who each kid made their card for as they worked.
The good news is that this activity requires little to no prep work. You can laminate the math page if you want, or you can use a dry erase pocket like this. That with dry erase markers will allow your kids to do many math problems without destroying the page. This is a tasty way to practice math facts.
Not surprisingly, my kids LOVED this math lesson! Since I couldn’t find any gluten-free conversation hearts we used Hershey’s kisses. For my big two, for each math problem they got right they got to eat a piece of candy. My 4 and 2 year old got to have fun drawing with the dry erase markers and practicing counting (and of course eating candy).
Sugar Cookie Heart- this will be our dessert come Valentine’s night, but I thought it would be fun to include here so you guys could have the recipe I created for gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free peanut butter frosting. I’ll put it at the end of this post, after the activities.
I didn’t exactly follow the plans here. I mostly used it as an inspiration for a fun craft for the kids. This does take a bit of prep time to get all of the pieces cut out and organized, but the prep work pays off in the end. I made a baggie for each kid with the same amount of everything (so there would be no fits over someone getting more or less of a particular item, not that they would do that, lol). What the kids don’t know is that this is an awesome activity to help build their fine motor skills. Activities like this are especially helpful for kids who are struggling with handwriting because they build fine motor strength and coordination without feeling like ‘handwriting practice’.
I knew my oldest would love this activity, because she is an artist at heart and has a deep love of patterns. That makes ‘beading’ crafts like this a perfect fit for her. I was quite pleased that my 2.5 year old was able to string the hearts really well. I haven’t really had her do anything like this before, so it was nice to see she could, and now we might do things like this more often. The real surprise, though, was how much my 6 year old boy enjoyed the craft. He worked quickly and was focused on completing his pattern. When he ran short of pieces for the pattern he was working on he asked nicely if he could have more. I’m calling these a definite win!
Science was quite popular and tasty this week. This marshmallow experiment is the perfect chance to learn about how different liquids effect the dissolving rate. Luckily for us, Peeps are gluten-free, so I didn’t have to do any substituting. I did add a fourth liquid, distilled white vinegar. This way each of my 4 who were part of the experiment could have a something to do.
This was a good reminder of why we don’t yet do experiments that involve anything dangerous. Little fingers kept reaching into the cups to ‘taste’. Luckily I kept the vinegar one furthest away from the youngest ones. I had no desire to have one of them try to taste it and puke everywhere! The kids were thoroughly entertained by watching the water change color and the sprinkles on top of the peeps dissolved. Oh, and the fact that the marshmallow heart in the soda puffed up was even more entertaining!
Here is a fun ‘game’ to work on both math and drawing. Roll a die, find the part to draw that matches the number on the die, and draw it. Keep going till you have your bug drawn! You could make it a contest by taking turns rolling the die and seeing who could complete their bug first, or you could do what we did, where each kid gets their own die and they just work on their own to draw their bugs.
I knew this would be a bit too complicated for my little ones to do, so I waited until my husband was home and had him take them downstairs to play while the big kids and I drew our lovebugs. It was cute to see how everyone’s was different. My son made his ‘robot style’ while my daughter made hers almost like a flying squirrel.
Valentine’s Sticker Names
This is a pretty simple activity. Write your child’s name out in large letters on a piece of construction paper. Make the writing nice and big and dark, preferably with a marker or sharpie. Then give the kids some cute Valentine’s-themed stickers. Have them ‘trace’ over the letters with the stickers as they spell out their names. Stickers are a particularly useful tool for kids struggling with their handwriting. It helps them focus on their fine-motor skills that will improve handwriting without feelings like more handwriting practice.
My kids LOVED getting to do this. Stickers are a treat around here because the little ones are still young enough that they need close monitoring while stickers are out (as much fun as it is to peel stickers off of furniture). My two oldest were focused on making patterns with the colors of their stickers while my 4 and 2 year old were happily sticking little hearts all over their pages. They have already asked that we do this craft again!
Chocolate-dipped Rice Krispie Treats
Quick warning- name brand Rice Krispies are NOT gluten-free! Don’t buy the Kellogg’s ones to use here if you need to be GF. Malt-o-Meal does make a GF version, though. Anyway, I figured I’d end our fun week with one final cooking activity. This time the kids can help more because once it comes time to give the hearts a dunk in chocolate there isn’t the risk of them getting hurt or burned or anything. I like to think of it as an easy introduction to cooking skills.
Is anyone surprised that my kids LOVED getting to make these? Krispy treats, chocolate, dunking something, getting messy (admittedly my least favorite part), it was a definite HIT! I learned a few things. I’m thinking craft sticks would work better than lollipop sticks, which didn’t stay in as well when the kids handled them. Also, using one hand to hold the stick while you used the other to gently hold the treat in place was a key to keeping the treats from falling off into the chocolate. You’ll also need to give them a bit of time in the fridge after dipping for the chocolate to set up.
Valentine’s Day really is a lot of fun around here. The kids will wake up to some candy (though not a ton) and this year we got them some gluten-free playdough as a present. Then we’ll get to do some fun activities throughout the week to learn more about loving others. What are your plans for Valentine’s week?
- 1 cup margarine (we use Earth Balance soy-free)
- 3/4 cup peanut butter (check for soy, Skippy Natural is safe)
- 1/2 cup marshmallow creme
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Beat margarine in mixer on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Add peanut butter and marshmallow creme to the margarine and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated and smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Mix in vanilla.
- Slowly add in powdered sugar with mixer on LOW speed (or powdered sugar will fly everywhere).
- Scrape down sides of bowl and mix frosting on medium speed until sugar is fully incorporated.