Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Activities

I just got into the groove this year and we partied hard to celebrate St. Valentine's Day here at the Simple Little Home! As usual, I balked at the consumerism associated with the holiday, and opted instead for fun, themed school, snacks, games and books. Every child here today (we had a few extras, in addition to our three kids) had a great time and I didn't purchase a thing for the event... except a watermelon. But I would have bought fruit for snack anyway, so I'm not counting that.

Would you like to see what we did today?

We began by making old fashioned, gluten free oatmeal with honey from our bees and a few berries cut into heart shapes on top. I haven't posted about this just yet since Lent came so early this year, but we've given up processed food and sugar again this year, so all of our V-Day treats were going to be gluten free, organic, and whole food. I will share more about our Lenten journey as the week progresses. (You can check out last year's journey and menus here, here, here and here.)
Next, we discovered (as I was getting out my materials for the day) that our metal heart cookie cutters could be used as themed metal insets! As I mentioned today on Facebook, Montessori students use the metal insets for pre-writing practice, and they can also be used for size comparisons.
 We did a few printable activities from various sites (check out my Valentine's Pinterest board if you'd like lots of free printable links), but kept "seat time" to a minimum today. We intended to have some fun today, and that really meant following the (excited!) lead of the children.

Next, we had snack. Below are our fruit kebabs: watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries cut into hearts with grapes in between to secure them. I also served plain Greek yogurt, and drew a small heart into it with the juice from a few squeezed raspberries.

 After our bellies were full, we headed outside for some snow painting, Valentine's Day style. I filled old spray bottles with food coloring and water (powdered watercolor paint is much better, if you have the option on hand), and cut a heart from poster board. We used both the cut heart and the outline as stencils and sprayed our "paint" all over the snow to create fun V-day hearts all over the snowbanks in the yard.

 I will continue to use this snow stencil activity (hel-lo Saint Patrick's day shamrocks!) because it was just too much fun for all ages.

A note: if you choose to do this activity at home, I recommend that you encourage your kids to take off their mittens first. I have never had a problem washing some errant sprays out of coats and off faces, but mittens tend to take a beating during this activity, especially from younger kids who are just learning to use spray bottles.

By the time we came in, we were hungry, so we had lunch. Heart-shaped grilled cheese on homemade bread, with heart apples, celery, strawberries and tomatoes. I also served pink juice (strawberry Naked juice), but forgot to include it in the picture. :(
 We hunkered down for a half hour, as we always do post-lunch, to read some V-Day books.

The silence didn't last for long because we immediately started another game: Heart Hunt. I cut 20 small construction paper hearts (in contrasting colors to any of our household decorations) for the kids to hide and find. This game was so simple, and was such a hit! We added rules as we went: whoever found the last heart got to hide them in the next round, and older kids had to help a younger child find a heart after they found five on their own. I loved that it was a team-building experience: we all worked together to find the 20 hearts collectively.
When we finished with that game, and the toddler was up from her afternoon nap, we spent some time in the schoolroom. Although we typically do our schoolwork in the morning, the flow of the day demanded that work which required us to sit still be done after some of the more (exciting) activities were complete.

For more information on the composition of our Valentine's Day shelves, read this post from yesterday. We...

Our afternoon snack looked like this:
That's watermelon shaped hearts, air-popped popcorn and a pink smoothie made from plain yogurt, our own honey, and strawberries and raspberries from the farm that I pulled out of the freezer. (I love making smoothies from frozen berries because the liquid they produce as they defrost is perfect for coloring the drink with no artificial food coloring.)

I think that's it! Daddy and Ben (6) went to check on a few of the beehives in the afternoon since it was such a warm day, so the girls and I made each other a few more simple valentine cards. We used the quiet hours in the evening to take baths and play, and after our dinner (oh yes, more heart food!) everyone was ready for a good night's sleep.

With the kids in bed, Garrett and I stole some time alone, with a bottle of old vine zinfandel and a homemade beeswax candle, to talk and reminisce. We both commented on the time in our lives when Valentine's Day would have meant large price tags and fancy dinners, and that we are so deeply grateful for our new celebration of the holiday. We talked love- real love- all day long, and none of us bought each other a single thing. Garrett made me breakfast this morning to show his love, and each family member made one another a special card. Ben showed his love to his sisters by sharing his Lego, Ava showed hers by helping Ellie with her dress up outfit, and Ellie showed hers by declaring "hippy vayentime!" to all within earshot. I gave my typical hair mussings, shoulder squeezes and lap sessions to all, but lingered a bit more on this special day. That's what it's really about.

Such blessings we have been given, such treasures we enjoy. On this day of love, I hope that all of you have someone(s) to love, and to receive love from. After all, that's what it's all about, right?


  1. Replies
    1. It really was fun. I love that none of us ate a single piece of chocolate or gave a single rose, and yet the warmth and intention of the holiday was felt to deeply.

  2. I wish I could say I hadn't resorted to chocolate... but it was at the office. So I had it for breakfast. :)

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