18 - 48 Months+

Valentine’s Day crafts and activities for toddlers and preschoolers

Child playing with crafts.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with young children. Love notes and DIY presents made with small hands? Yes, please!

For Valentine’s Day activities that combine fun with developmental benefits, we talked to Gabrielle Felman, Lovevery’s early childhood development expert and mother of two. “Toddlers and preschoolers are always being told what to do,” she says. “As long as they’re being safe, it’s important to give them space to play and create their own art.”

Here are Felman’s favorite Valentine’s Day crafts, treats, and activities—all with important skills practice—to share with your favorite toddler or preschooler ❤️

Homemade Valentine’s Day crafts

To create Valentine’s Day cards from these crafts, add a short note–in your child’s words if possible–and their name.

DIY heart stamps

Different-sized stamps reinforce foundational math concepts while mixing paint introduces color theory.

Materials 

  • 2 sponges
  • Red and white washable paint
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • A marker

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Cut 2 heart-shaped pieces of paper—one larger than the other—that are each smaller than the sponges.
  2. Place each paper heart on top of a sponge. Trace around it and cut.
  3. Put the red paint in one small bowl or wide-mouthed jar and the white paint in another. Ask your child what they think will happen when the two colors are mixed together—then let them try it in a third bowl or on a plate.
  4. Demonstrate how to dip the heart sponges into the paint, then press and stamp them on construction paper. Invite your child to try. 
  5. This may turn into finger painting 😉  Dipping their fingers in paint and making dots, lines, or other designs is a type of messy sensory play that’s so good for them.

Valentine’s Day collage

Your child will get lots of sensory integration and fine motor skills practice making this collage, and sharing memories provides social-emotional benefits.

Materials 

  • Printed photos of family members, friends, and pets
  • Safety scissors (also called children’s or kids’ scissors)
  • Glue stick, glue, or tape
  • Poster board or construction paper
  • Additional textured items such as pom poms, red cellophane, tissue paper, and even flowers

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Cut out pictures of loved ones or show your child how. Many 2-year-olds are ready to try snipping paper with safety scissors as long as they have close supervision. You can make it easier by holding the paper for your child.
  2. Let them choose which photos they want to use. Show them how to apply glue with a glue stick or paintbrush dipped in a small bowl of liquid glue. You can also make small loops of tape (or use double-sided) for your child to stick on the back of the photos. Be ready to help, as tape is tricky for little hands. 
  3. Talk about the people and pets in the pictures. How do you know you love them? How do you know they love you? Do they give hugs and kisses (or licks)? Do they listen? Do they wag their tail when you come home? Do they try to keep you safe?
  4. Let your child decide where to place the photos on the paper or poster board and invite them to decorate with the pom poms, cellophane, and other textured pieces.

Ice painting

This craft demonstrates how a solid can turn into a liquid (and back) and supports fine motor skills and self-expression.

Materials 

  • Craft sticks 
  • Washable paint
  • Ice tray or popsicle molds
  • Large piece of paper

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Fill each ice cube or popsicle mold with washable paint until ¾ full. Add water and stir gently.  
  2. If using an ice tray, cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and poke craft sticks through the middle of each mold to make handles.
  3. Once the colored pops are frozen, let them melt slightly and invite your child to paint with them.

Homemade Valentine’s Day treats

From learning to follow directions to practice in measuring and cause and effect, time together in the kitchen is some of the best food for your child’s brain 😉

Heart-shaped pancakes

While you’ll do the cooking, your child may be able to complete several of the other steps independently (with adult supervision).

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or yogurt thinned with milk/milk substitute)
  • A few teaspoons of oil or butter for cooking
  • Optional toppings like strawberries, blueberries, bananas

Equipment 

  • Measuring cups
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Prep bowls (3 small and 1 large)
  • Whisk 
  • Pan or griddle
  • Heart-shaped pancake molds or metal heart-shaped cookie cutters

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. To set your child up for success, measure the dry ingredients into individual prep bowls. Put a little over 2 cups of flour into your large bowl so your child can scoop a cup at a time independently. 
  2. Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk 2 eggs in a separate mixing bowl.
  4. Add 2 cups of buttermilk to the eggs and mix.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix just until combined. Some lumps are okay.
  7. To cook the pancakes (adults only): add 1 tsp. oil or butter to a hot pan, then place heart-shaped molds or cookie cutters an inch or so apart in the pan. Add batter by spoonfuls, and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles begin to burst on the surface; flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. 
  8. Add toppings and enjoy your pancakes together ❤️
  9. Encourage your child to help you clean up.

Fruit skewers

Arranging fruit is a fun (and delicious) way to offer hands-on practice with patterns, an early math skill.

Ingredients & equipment 

  • Fruit such as berries, melon, kiwi, and pineapple
  • Wooden skewers (semi-pointed work for younger children)
  • Child-safe knife or crinkle cutter
  • Melon baller (optional)

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Your toddler can practice cutting fruit with a crinkle cutter. Preschoolers may be able to handle a child-safe knife and even a melon baller.
  2. Establish a pattern with the fruit—blueberry, cantaloupe, blueberry, cantaloupe—and invite your child to continue it. Or make a pattern and point it out while your child is making their own creation. 
  3. Invite them to thread the fruit onto a skewer either in the pattern or however they’d like. For toddlers, hold the skewer vertically so they can “post” the fruit. They can also hand you fruit pieces to thread.

Valentine’s Day activities

Excavating and lacing require problem-solving and fine motor skills, not to mention patience 😉

Gathering roses

Ice play is intriguing for many children. This activity encourages your child to think creatively and persevere.

Materials needed

  • 3 to 4 roses
  • A large food storage container
  • Child-sized tongs or tweezers
  • Toothbrushes or paintbrushes
  • Scrubbers and/or bristle brushes
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Chopsticks

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Place the roses in your container and invite your child to pour water over them until covered. Freeze overnight.
  2. The next day, encourage your child to use their tools to “gather” the roses from the block of ice. If they get frustrated, acknowledge the difficulty and their effort. To support them, Felman suggests using “I wonder” statements: “I wonder what would happen if we sprayed water five times in this corner.”

Heart pillow

This multistep activity presents a fine motor challenge for your preschooler and may slightly frustrate them. That’s okay—some struggle is important.

Materials 

  • Felt
  • Safety scissors
  • Single hole puncher
  • Shoelace or string
  • Cotton balls

Here’s what you’ll do

  1. Cut out two heart-shaped pieces of felt.
  2. Invite your child to use the hole puncher to make matching holes around the edges of both pieces. If they’re not able to punch a hole all the way through, you can try helping by putting your hand over theirs. 
  3. If your child is 1 or 2 years old, lace the shoelace or string through the holes to create a pouch with the two pieces of felt. Three- and 4-year-olds may be able to lace on their own or after you get them started. Shoelaces are easier than string due to the aglet (plastic piece at the ends).
  4. Before closing the two hearts up completely, invite your child to poke cotton balls through the opening until the pouch is full.
  5. Finish threading your pillow.

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Posted in: 18 - 48 Months+, Fine Motor, Sensory Play, Crafts, Playtime & Activities, Playtime & Activities

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