Creating a Valentine’s Day busy bag is an easy way to keep your young child – well, busy. Obviously, that’s in the name! Along with occupying your toddler or preschooler, this holiday activity builds fine motor skills, inspires creativity, teaches about shapes and colors and much, much more.
Busy Bag Materials
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Craft felt (in Valentine’s colors – red, pink, purple)
- Card stock or construction paper (again, in the holiday’s colors)
- A marker
- Cardboard (reuse the front of an old cereal or cracker box)
- Soft modeling clay
- A zipper baggie
Valentine’s Day How-To
- Draw hearts. And, lots of them! Fold the paper and craft felt in half (book-style). Have your child draw half of a heart on each piece, starting at the fold. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about basic math concepts. If your child doesn’t know what half of a heart looks like, help her and draw the first one. Or, you can draw a whole heart and cut it in half. Use the half as a template. Make different sizes, using different colors of paper and felt.
- Cut the hearts out and unfold them to reveal the full shapes.
- Trace a few of the hearts in different sizes onto the cardboard. Cut that out too. You may need to help your child to cut through thicker board.
- “Finger paint” the cardboard hearts. Okay, so there’s no real paint in this activity. Your child will use the clay to fake paint the hearts. Pull the clay apart into dime-sized pieces. Smooth it onto the cardboard. It will stick. Try blending different colors and making new textures!
It’s Play Time
Now the Valentine’s Day busy bag is ready for your child to play with. There is no one correct way to play with this bag. Your creative kiddo can use her imagination and come up with different ways to play. If she’s having trouble kicking off the fun, try these activity-starters:
- Size stacking: Ask your child to stack the hearts by size, starting with the largest. Now switch and start with the smallest. Use one texture; the felt, the paper or the clay or mix them up.
- Texture sort: Talk about what a “texture” is. Ask your child to describe how each type of heart feels when she touches it. Sort them based on textures. Use words such as smooth, soft and hard.
- Color patterning: Identify all of the colors of hearts. Your child can create a pattern based on the hues. This might look like red, pink, red, pink, red, pink. As your child gets better at patterning she can create more complex patterns, such as red, red, pink, red, red, pink.
- Shape pictures: Think of the pieces as a puzzle. Spread the hearts out and watch as your child uses them to make her very own picture. Combine the hearts to make a flower, a face or anything else your child can dream up.
When your child’s done playing, pack up the hearts and put them into the bag. If the clay dries or chips, simply peel/scrape it off of the cardboard, add new clay and “finger paint” again.
Keep the Valentine’s Day fun going with these awesome activities for your toddler or preschooler!
Erica is a mom, educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.