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Happy Valentine’s Day from Cheerful Learning!

In honor of tomorrow’s holiday, why not try out some fun, heart-themed activities with your little ones?

For example, how fun are those paper plate hats? I got the idea from here, and we just happened to have some pink paper plates left over from Remi’s recent princess birthday party, so we were ready to go! (Only have white plates? No problem! Just hand your preschooler some crayons, markers, or paints, and let her go to town decorating the hat herself!)

I drew the pattern on the plate and let Remi cut it out herself. This was her first time using scissors on something other than plain paper, and it was challenging for her little hands, but she did the best she could and I took over to help out right at the end.

Anything to work those hand muscles is good preparation for all the writing she has ahead of her in future school grades. One of my favorite things to do with Remi is taking her to the bathroom mirror to look at her creations. I always enjoy the response!

We also did several fun, heart-themed math activities. (I got all the free printables from here, and you can, too!)

We started out with a Count-and-Sort activity. I gave her a box of candy conversation hearts…you know, the ones that taste like chalk? 😉 She arranged them by color on the sorting mat, then counted how many of each color she had. We talked about more, less, most, least, and fewest as she answered questions about each.

Next up was a Heart Graphing activity.

Remi looked at the color words at the bottom of the graph, and added the hearts where appropriate. Then we looked at the graph together and I had her compare the stacks. (Which has more—green, or purple? Do any of them the same amount?)

If your preschooler is like mine, she loves any activity involving do-a-dot markers, so why not try a game of Heart Bingo?

I wrote numerals on each heart and then gave her a die, and each time she rolled it she had to count the pips (dots on the die) and stamp that numeral. She did this over and over and over!

The mistake I made? There were eight hearts, so without thinking I numbered them one through eight. Well, as you know, there are only six sides of a die, and she quickly noticed that she was never going to get a seven or eight. She asked if she could go ahead and stamp them anyway, and I let her—after identifying each and counting aloud for me.

By the way, this is a great time to teach your child that two are DICE and one is a DIE.

While the die was out, we used it to play a Valentine’s Grid Game.

I gave her some red Unifix cubes and told her they were bear candy. The grid contained bears with hearts, and those bears were VERY hungry for some Valentine’s candy. But, the only was they could get some was for her to roll the die, count the pips, and give that number of bears one piece of “candy” each. She was very concerned about the poor, hungry bears, and worked quickly to make sure each one had a treat!

In the meantime, she was getting some good practice identifying those dot patterns…but don’t tell her that, OK?

The great thing about all these activities is that, once you get your preschooler started, she can work fairly independently if you need to teach older children, nurse a baby, etc. Just stay close enough to enjoy watching the fun she’s having!

We brought the conversation hearts back out for some Heart Patterning work.

The worksheets I used were from a set of eight pages (see link above) and contained AB, ABC, AABB, and AAB patterns. Unfortunately, our box of candy didn’t contain all the colors we needed, so we just did the ones we could and a few times I substituted for her by, for example, covering yellow hearts with green candy ones to change the pattern to something we could do with the hearts we had. And, finally, she got to eat some hearts as a reward for all her hard “work” (play) doing math! 🙂

Finally, we did a fun Valentine’s Maze. I explained to my daughter that this little man loved this little woman, and really wanted to give her some flowers for Valentine’s Day, but he was having a hard time finding her. Remi was all too happy to help him out!

I found the maze at this site, which also contains other preschool printables like dot-to-dots, as well as lots of fun activities for your older kids, too. I printed out several Valentine’s Day activities from there for my ten year old, including word searches, word scrambles, and crypto-families.

Make the most of this special day with your little one. By next Valentine’s Day, she’ll be so much more grown up!

From our family to yours, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy learning together!

 

We had a great time learning about the promise God made to Noah to never again destroy the whole earth with a flood. Genesis 9 tells us how He set His rainbow in the clouds as a reminder of that promise.

I’ll share here all the fun things we did to go along with this Bible story, including a craft, a game, a snack, a project, and a simple science experiment, as well as activities for nature discovery and visual discrimination. Are you ready?

Game: Rainbow m&m Sort

I got the template for this printout here, and—as is often the case—I adapted it before printing and laminating. Since my daughter is only three, I skipped the die-rolling component for now, and just let her match up the m&m colors to the rainbow template. (You could have your child roll a die to determine which color gets placed if you want to make it a little more challenging. I decided to save that for later.)

I told Remi she could eat the brown ones, since they weren’t needed for the game. In the end, most of what she did was place the candy—whatever color she happened to pick up—onto the rainbow for about two seconds, and then pop it into her mouth when she thought I wasn’t looking! The first time not many m&m’s ended up on the template, but when we pulled this activity out again the next day, she filled up the whole rainbow—and felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was completed!  This game was just plain fun, but was also great practice for visual discrimination (and yes, even self-control!)

Does she really think I don’t know what’s in her mouth?

Craft: A Rainbow in the Clouds

This was a simple craft, but it provided a great opportunity to review the Bible story while we “worked.”

Where did God put His rainbow? What does it mean? Will we ever have a flood again? (Yes, but it won’t destroy the whole world.)

We turned these…..

…into THIS—a beautiful rainbow in the clouds, and a creation for a little one to be very proud of.

We even picked out her dress in honor of this Bible story!

Remi loves using my paper trimmer—with my supervision and help, of course—so I let her help me get the strips of construction paper ready.

Squeezing out all that glue before adding the cotton-ball clouds is a perfect workout for those little hand muscles!

Gluing on the paper strips gave us a chance to talk about the colors of a rainbow, i.e. that every rainbow consists of the same colors, that they are always in the same order, and what that order is. No, I don’t expect her to memorize the correct order right now! (But you may be ready to do that with your child, depending on his age.)

Snack: Rainbow Sherbet

This one was a no-brainer! It was yummy, something we don’t usually keep in the house, and super quick and easy.  And no, we didn’t eat it the same day we worked with the m&m’s…..

Science experiment: Milk Rainbows

I’m a firm believer that there are only two reasons to do science with young children. One is to expose them to evidence of the all-powerful God who created everything in existence, and the other is just to have FUN! Please don’t make the mistake of making science a chore for your little one. Let her experiment, play, and have fun!

And if you’re learning about God’s rainbow promise, why not start by making milk rainbows? I’ve seen activities like this all over the internet (like here and here). We adapted ours this way:

1. I put some milk in a shallow dish. (I chose a white one so the colors would really show up.)

2. I let my girls add a few drops each of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to the milk.

3. We let it spread for a few seconds, then added a drop of liquid dish soap in the middle. Here’s what happened:

(There were lots of oohs and ahhs!)

4. I let Remi turn the dish slightly to swirl the colors around in the milk.

5. My 10-year-old daughter was watching us do this experiment, so I explained to her what was happening: The fat and protein molecules were moving around in reaction to the dish soap we added, and the food coloring allowed us to see the movement of the molecules. If you are doing this only with a young child, you may want to simply tell him that there are things going on all around us that we don’t even notice, but that God can see everything and He knows what’s happening, even when we can’t see it. (Or, just let him enjoy the pretty colors and swirls!) Simple and fun…

I also showed Remi how, if we hold a CD up to the sunlight, we can see the light reflecting off of it in rainbow colors. (She thought that was pretty cool!)  How’s that for a zero cost, zero prep science activity?

Visual Discrimination Activity: Pompom Sort

I gave Remi a divided tray and an assortment of rainbow-colored pompoms in three different sizes and let her sort them into compartments by color. (We used a sorting tray made just for these kinds of activities, but you could use a muffin pan, egg carton, divided craft box, or whatever you have available. Pompoms can usually be found at the dollar store, but you could substitute beads, buttons, etc.)

This was a little too quick and easy for her, but after she got them all sorted, she asked for some tongs so she could do it again with more of a challenge. Doing it this way provided great motor skills practice, too. (These are regular kitchen tongs I got from the dollar store just for Remi to use.)

Next she wanted an empty water bottle to put the pompoms in, which is great “work” for developing hand-eye coordination. **HINT: Follow your child’s lead and let him take the activities you plan in the right direction for him.**

Project: String Rainbow Cereal

This one is a classic. I’m pretty sure there’s a rule somewhere that says that at some point, your child has to string cereal pieces together to make a necklace. (Right?) Besides, it’s great for your little one’s hand-eye coordination, and something that can be done fairly independently.

You only need two ingredients: Fruit Loop-type cereal, and something on which to string it, like a shoelace or a piece of yarn. I used a lace from a sewing card set we own, and tied a big knot in the end to get her started (so the pieces wouldn’t slip off).

Granted, at times there seemed to be more of this going on…..

…..than this:

There were even times that both were happening simultaneously.

In the end, Remi decided she didn’t want it to be a necklace after all. She considered a headband…..

…..but opted instead for something she could swing around and around to get the dog’s attention. (???)  Again, whatever she chose was fine with me. The point was to give her the experience and let her get creative with it.

And now, for my favorite of all the Rainbow-Promise-related activities we enjoyed:

Nature and Movement Activity: Rainbow Walk

This is a great way to get outside with your little one and take a closer look at God’s beautiful creation. It requires no advanced planning or preparation, and all you need is your child and a camera. Just throw on some flip-flops and head outdoors with your little tyke and the goal of finding every color of the rainbow in nature.

This was a great opportunity to review which colors comprise a rainbow, and we didn’t even make it to the end of our block before finding every single one of them. Remi had a great time hunting for the different colors and taking some of her own pictures. I encouraged her to look beyond the flower beds and notice colors all around her. Here’s a sample of what we found for each—in proper rainbow order, of course!

Variations:

If the weather’s bad, you could do this same activity inside your home.

You could skip the camera and simply find the colors, or take a clipboard and some crayons along and have your child draw each object she finds.

Or, you could take a piece of paper in each color outside with you, and have your little one attach something she finds in each color to the proper page.

Get creative if you want to! I’m all for simple, but you could take this fun activity as far as you choose.

I hope you enjoy experiencing these activities with a little one you love, but even more, I encourage you to use them to reinforce a beautiful story of God’s promise to all mankind.

(This lesson makes a great follow-up to our Noah’s ark activities.)

Enjoy learning together!