Valentine’s Day is in just a few weeks! My kids love making “art-crafts,” so I thought I’d discuss some ways to allow kids to be creative while celebrating.

Let me be up-front: These ideas aren’t meant to be Pinterest-worthy, beautiful masterpieces. The goal of these ideas isn’t necessarily a perfect looking keepsake for Grandma. This is more about allowing kids to have fun and to learn through doing (and maybe to keep them occupied for a few minutes so you can get something done or simply have a break!). I’m a big believer that it’s better for kids to do crafts on their own terms than for me to hover and make sure that everything is perfectly in place, so if that means that a googly eye is glued kinda wonky, so be it. I want my children to take pride in their own work!

[tweetshare tweet = “Let’s see crafts as an opportunity to play and explore rather than as a task to make an end product.”]

So let the Valentine’s day craft ideas begin!

1. Cutting out hearts

For some reason, my girls are obsessed with using scissors. Valentine’s Day is a great time to let them work on their cutting skills!

The way that’s most obvious to kids, of course, is to draw a heart (or find a printable picture of one) and cut it out directly.

But another option is to teach them how to fold a piece of paper in half and draw half a heart. They’ll be delighted to learn that they get a full heart when they unfold the paper after cutting. What a great way to introduce symmetry to your kids!

2. Baking

Like we’ve discussed before, getting your kids involved in the kitchen can be a hassle on your end, but they really enjoy it! Plus, kids love the opportunity to show love (perfect for Valentine’s Day!) by making something for someone.

Just remember, these tasks are always harder than you’d think possible with little kids, so make it as easy on yourself as possible. I’m sure you have a fantastic cookie recipe from scratch, but now is not the time. Just buy that tube of dough; I won’t judge!

If you’re working with children under five and want them to both cut out cookies and decorate them, I suggest carrying these tasks out over two days (based on my experience at Christmas!). My husband had a great idea that simplified things even further: He spread icing on the cookies while the kids were busy, and then brought them over to put sprinkles on. Of course, we’re dealing with three children under six, so we need things as easy as possible. As your kids get older (or if you just have fewer to manage), you can certainly give them more complex tasks.

3. Making their own Valentines

Remember being a kid and having Valentine exchanges at school? You’d pick a box of Valentines with your favorite characters (I remember giving out Little Mermaid ones when I was little), fold and seal them with a sticker, and then sign the “to” and “from” labels. Done.

And that’s still a good option, but think how great it would be for your kids to get to make their own Valentines. This would be a lovely way for your child to get to show more personal care for their classmates!

The main pitfall of having kids make their own Valentines could be fatigue setting in a quarter of the way through the project. To keep this from being a problem, start this project well in advance of V-Day. Let your child make them over a few days instead of all at once (because don’t we all need practice in breaking large projects into smaller, doable tasks?).

And make it simple! Some markers and stickers will be enough. After all, if each individual card is a pain-staking masterpiece, she might become overwhelmed or bored by the process.

4. Valentine box

And if your child is getting Valentines in return, it will be great for him to have something to collect them in! An old shoebox covered in construction paper and with a slot in the top will be perfect. Plus, he can use those paper hearts he cut to decorate the box!

5. Writing Valentines for family members

This beautiful idea from Dr. Laura Markham will create a lovely keepsake for years to come. Have each household member, including adults, make a paper heart for each family member. Older children can write a sentence or two on each heart about why they appreciate and love their family member, while younger children can dictate what they want parents to write down.

Imagine doing this every year, and then using them as decorations for each Valentine’s Day. In time, you’ll have collected wonderful memories of how your family has appreciated each other over the years.

6. Glitter glue painting

This is something my oldest started and now all three of my children love! She squeezes out some glitter glue, gets a paintbrush, and spreads it to her heart’s content. Even the little one likes to try his hand at painting!

I’ll be honest, the twitchy Type A inside me has a hard time with this craft (but it’s glue, not paint! And if they wouldn’t spread it, the glue would be raised and look better!). But I just read a wonderful post from a preschool teacher about how what we consider too much is just enough for that child.

How do you approach crafts like these Valentine’s Day ideas?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to lie and tell your child that his project is the most beautiful looking “What is that? Oh, a penguin?” you’ve ever seen. In fact, you and your child are both better off commenting on the satisfaction you see you child getting from his work (I see you’re working really hard on your craft! You must be really enjoying yourself) than you are on the quality of his work.

The way we view crafting for children has a huge impact on how this activity serves them (or doesn’t). If we can see children’s crafts as an opportunity to play and explore rather than as a task to make a perfect-looking end product, it’s easier to let go of worries like “too much glue.”

By the way, do you deal with arguments between siblings while your kids are crafting?

“But I need the glue!”

But I had it first!”

“Mommy, she took the blue marker and I need it!”

Oh man, we’ve all heard that stuff before. And you probably hear it right when you’re trying to fix dinner and the toddler is holding onto your leg wailing because he’s hungry. What to do?

If you want to find out exactly what to say to nip these arguments quickly, and, even better, train your kids to eventually handle sharing without your intervention (!) sign up here for my free list of parenting prompts! Print it out and put it on your fridge so it’s there to save the day next time you have to help your kids share their toys and art supplies..

Get your free printable here.

And if you liked the Valentine’s Day crafts found here, make sure you share with a friend. Until next time, Happy Parenting!