Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and there are so many fun educational activities you can do with heart shapes. Thematic learning is also a great way to inspire reluctant learners!

Make Your Own Sensory Box

Sensory boxes are so easy to make, and they help to stimulate fine motor skills and creative play. We’ve created sensory boxes with a number of different items for Valentine’s Day. Find a big plastic bin or box and pick the items you want to put inside (heart-shaped plastic gems, pompoms, candy hearts, even cereal are all good choices). Add small scoopers, spoons, cups, and even cars. You’re all set to play the day away!

Create Heart Flashcards

Flashcards are always easy to whip up, and you can customize them to the age of your learner. Yet, we all know that flashcards can be kind of boring and redundant, too. By adding some fun candy hearts, chocolate candies, or cereal pieces, you’re helping to make those flashcards a little sweeter!

Start by drawing some blank hearts on index cards. You can make them addition cards or simple number cards, depending on how old your learner is. Use your edible manipulatives to fill the hearts for number practice. As an added bonus, your child can eat the pieces for every correct answer!

Engineering with Hearts

Building with candy conversation hearts is actually a fun way to promote higher-level thinking. Kids can use them to build towers, mini bridges, or even “heart snakes.” For an added challenge, give your child a task: “Can you make a tower 10 hearts tall? Can you make a heart snake with a color pattern? How high can you make the tower before it falls?”

*Note that in 2019, the Necco candy factory did not produce conversation heart candies, but there are still other brands on the market that you can use!

Heart Color Sort

Grab an empty egg carton or cupcake tray and have your kiddo sort some fun Valentine’s Day or heart-shaped items (conversation heart candies, red and white pompoms, cereal pieces, large beads, etc). Ask your child to sort by color or amount. For a challenge, see if they can use small tongs or child-safe tweezers to pick the items up (once again promoting fine motor skills).

“Hearty” Reading Time

Make a thematic book box/reading corner for your child and include some fun Valentine’s Day or heart-themed books. Look for titles at the library, or check out some of my favorites, such as Love Monster by Rachel Bright or Love Bugs by David A. Carter. You can make your reading moments even more special by having a “special guest” in your reading corner. Have your child read to a favorite stuffed animal, a pet, or even a family member!

Make Some Heart-Shaped Valentines

This seems like such an obvious idea, doesn’t it? These days, families are so busy, and it’s much easier to purchase valentines from the store. It can be a great learning experience to make your own or write a few words or sentences on handmade cards. Even if Valentine’s Day is over, writing some “love notes” to special family members or friends can be a fun learning activity. It doesn’t take much to set up a mini writing center. Include some colorful paper, stickers, markers, or pens. If your child is still learning to write or spell, provide a few sample sentences, words, or phrases for them to copy.

Heart Graphing

Teach kids to gather data with a heart graphing task! Cut Post-It notes in the shape of hearts (or use heart-shaped stickers) to create a bar graph. Have kids gather data based on your child’s age. Tasks can be basic for younger kids, such as, “how many stuffed animals do you have?” Older kids might be able to gather more complex data, such as, “how many windows does our house have? How many doors?” Once the bar graph is created, ask your children higher-level questions based on the results: “How many more windows than doors do we have? How many more stuffed animals than cars do you have?”

These “hearty” ideas are fun after-school activities, home school options, or classroom centers. They don’t have to center around Valentine’s Day, since hearts symbolize love and kindness every day of the year! For more inspiration with hearts, check out this post by fellow Toy Insider Parent Panelist Destiny Paquette. Or swing over to read about family Valentine celebrations by Charlene DeLoach.