Creative Table: Valentine’s Day Cards

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this Creative Table invites children to make Valentine’s Day Cards that are sure to delight not only the children in your home.

Creative Table: Make your own Valentine's Day Cards | TinekerLab.com

One of our favorite ways to engage children at the art table is by setting up invitations to create. Toward this end, we started the Creative Table series as a way to capture easy set-ups and inspiring ideas that encourage creative and independent thinking.

All you have to do is gather some basic supplies, set them up, and then let the creativity begin…

Valentine’s Day Cards

Supplies

  • Pre-made blank cards or cardstock cut into card-size pieces
  • Glue sticks or PVA glue
  • Markers
  • Child-friendly scissors
  • Decorative Paper
  • Waste basket to collect scraps

More Ideas:

  • Self-inking Valentine stamps or stamps and ink pads
  • Decorative Paper ideas: wrapping paper, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, candy foil wrappers, doilies
  • Treasures:  googly eyes, sequins, foam hearts, stickers
  • Cardboard
  • Hole punchers and ribbon

Set up your table Valentine’s Day Cards Table

Valentines Card Table set up

Clear your table. If it’s looking a little messy (like ours usually does), take a minute to clear everything unessential off. Our art table is marked up, so we often cover it with this awesome butcher paper (Amazon) or oilcloth (Amazon) to make it extra inviting. Oilcloth is especially nice because it can be wiped clean after each use, but keep in mind that if it has a busy pattern it could be distracting.

How to set up a simple "Make Your Own" Valentine's Card Station  |  TinkerLab.com

Set up the materials for the Valentine’s Day Cards

Center of the Table:

  • Stack of pre-folded blank cards
  • Bowl full of scraps (pre-cut hearts, shiny paper, and doilies)
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  • Bowl of self-inking Valentine stamps

In front of each station:

  • One pre-folded blank card
  • Stack of patterned paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick

supplie for valentine cards

Now it’s time to get creative!

make your own valentines card

Tip for making art with kids: When my children have new ideas that vary from mine, such as using materials that aren’t on the table or using them in a way I hadn’t anticipated, I’ll embrace it. This is the time to encourage independent ideas and creative thinking. Children experience new materials and stimuli differently than we do, and we can look at these moments with awe. Who knows, your child may give YOU a new way to make things…mine often do!

Creative Table: Valentine's Day Cards  | Tinkerlab.com

More Valentine’s Day Inspiration

Our Valentine’s Day board on Pinterest

Make an All-in-one Valentine Envelope

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

Easy Valentine Bookmarks

How to Make Felt Ornaments with Kids

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

I made these sweet ornaments with my three-year old and five-year old. Our original plan was to hot glue them together, but when our hot glue gun went missing we took the opportunity to turn this into a sewing party.

My preschooler surprised me and rose to the sewing challenge (I’ll share a photo of that in a moment), while my kindergartener was able to thread her own needle and learned how to tie off knots.

I did the bulk of the work on these, so I’d call this project a collaborationjust something to keep in mind in case you expect your little one to take the lead on this one! Children six and older should be able to do most of the steps themselves.

If you’re not up for sewing, take this as inspiration, and simply hot glue the whole thing together!

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Gather Your Supplies

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

  • Felt
  • Thread
  • Hand-sewing needle. Tip: Use tapestry needles for small hands. These have bigger eyes that are easier to thread, and they’re a bit thicker.
  • Treasures to sew on: sequins, beads, jingle bells, and buttons
  • A couple straight pins to hold the felt together
  • Scissors that will cut fabric. Tip: I have a pair of scissors that are ONLY for fabric, since paper quickly dulls scissors.
  • Ornament hooks

Cut and Sew the Felt Ornament

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

To cut the ornaments, I used our cookie cutters as templates. We used a candy cane, angel, and a tree. I cut the first one out, and then layered it on top of the next color of felt. Then I cut the subsequent layers, each slightly larger than the rest.

To sew the ornaments: 

  1. Poke a straight pin through the felt stack.
  2. Thread the needle with a long piece of thread. Make it double-long and knot the end.
  3. Sew a running stitch through the felt.
  4. Knot the thread in the back.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Decorate the Felt Ornament

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

To embellish your ornament, sew the treasures to the felt. We used sequins and jingle bells (not shown here), and you could also use buttons or beads. My 5-year old wants to add that you could also make designs on the felt with stitches.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Hang your Felt Ornament

Twist the ornament hook into the felt.

Tip: For the tree ornament (below), I twisted it through two layers of felt and it took about ten seconds to poke through. To poke through four layers of felt on the candy cane, it took me about thirty seconds of twisting. 

Once the hook pokes through the felt, twist it off!

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Your ornament is ready to hang or to gift to someone special.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

p.s. This post took twice as long to write because my 5-year old decided she wanted to be a blogger today. :)

kid blogger

DIY Activity Advent Calendar

Make your own advent calendar

{This post was first shared in November, 2010…and we’ve updated it for 2013!}

When the winter holidays come around, our family gets into a deep DIY groove. How about you? In that spirit, making an advent calendar is a great way to introduce children to the less commercial side of Christmas through hands-on making.

Although my kids adore their chocolate-filled advent calendar, each envelope in this activity advent calendar holds a description of a holiday activity inside:

One day we’ll make our own ornaments and another day we’ll go ice skating. To keep my life simple, I only put things inside the calendar that are already on our agenda. No need to make the holidays more stressful than they already are!

For a full selection of ideas, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Benefits of this Activity

I didn’t grow up with advent calendars, but my children adore them. This handmade calendar, made with the help of children, gives young people the opportunity to:

  • participate in a holiday tradition
  • exercise fine motor skills
  • generate enthusiasm for the festivities to come. 

And if you celebrate Hanukkah, you could make something similar for the eight nights of Hanukkah. I know that I would have loved that when I was a kid!

How to make an advent calendar with kids

DIY Advent Calendar Supplies

Making twenty-four envelopes takes a bit of time, but nothing insurmountable. The steps, however, are beyond simple.

I have a daughter who is thrilled by holidays and had a hunch that she would enjoy mkaing an activity-based advent calendar. When we were still going strong after an hour of folding and gluing, I silently patted myself on the back.

How to make an advent calendar with kids

 

How to make a Paper Advent Calendar

DIY Activity Advent Calendar

Step 1: Cut your paper  to the desired size and fold it in thirds. One side should overlap the other by about 1/2 inch.

Step 2: Fold the bottom up about 1/2 inch and crease the paper.

Step 3: Open everything up. Make two cuts (see photo).

Step 4: Fold the paper together and add glue to seal it up.

Step 5: Add some more glue and seal up the bottom.

Make 23 more, and you’re ready to go.

Step 6: Punch holes in the back of the envelopes, run string through them, and hang the calendar.

Decorate away! And don’t forget to add some numbers.

How this worked for us

This project is more crafty than our usual process-based happenings, but my little one was deeply engaged in the industry of selecting images and do-dads to glue onto the bags. The benefits that I witnessed were:  

  • developing fine motor skills
  • making aesthetic choices
  • practicing with a glue bottle
  • commitment to completing a fairly large project. 

I also think she really enjoyed the camaraderie of working side-by-side with me, and I must admit that she’s pretty good company. Oh, and did I mention that she was invested in this for a solid hour? Seriously!!

DIY Activity Advent Calendar

Activity Advent Calendar Ideas

Our calendar is filled with holiday activities, written on pieces of paper, but you could certainly put small treats in each envelope if you’d like. Here are some ideas for activities:

If you make an activity calendar like we did, my best advice is to keep it simple. The holiday can be a stressful time, full of so many activities, parties, and travel.  I like to put things in the calendar that we’re already planning to do, so that this doesn’t add more work to an already busy time of year.

Go easy on yourself and don’t overcommit with this project!

What activities do you have planned around the holidays?

Easy Valentine Bookmarks

easy valentine bookmark 3

Today I’m joined by my real-life friend Susan, amazing mom to a 2-year old and a 4-year old, who I’ve known since our blanket baby days. She made this simple Valentine Bookmark with her 4-year old last week and I invited her to share it as a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift.

Welcome, Susan!

easy valentine bookmark 2

My daughter’s preschool loves to celebrate Valentine’s Day with homemade Valentines.

I wanted to do a project that was quick, where my daughter could handle most of the work, and that could be used beyond just Valentine’s Day.

Materials

  • 8 ½ x 11 Cardstock or any heavyweight paper
  • Scissors, regular or the fancy-edged kind
  • Glue – any kind (Elmer’s, glue stick, glue gun)
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon cut in pieces around 12 inches long
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Large sheets of paper for protecting your table (optional)

How we made this

  1. I taped large sheets of paper to our dining room table so I don’t get nervous when glue starts going everywhere.
  2. Pick two sheets of paper that will be glued back to back. Our local craft shop was having a sale on different cardstock with hearts and cupcakes so I picked up a couple of patterns that I thought would look cute together.  My daughter had her own idea of combinations, so we went with that.
  3. Hold the sheets together and cut it in half, lengthwise. You should now have four pieces that are 4.25″ x 11″.
  4. Then take one half (sheets together) and cut width-wise in to 5 equal sections (approximately 2.25″ x 4.25″). This gives you your basic bookmark. Repeat with the other half.
  5. Take each pair of cut bookmark halves and glue them together.
  6. After the glue dries a bit, take each bookmark, punch a hole at the top, slide a piece of ribbon through and tie it off.
  7. You can be done, or you can decorate! We used a glue gun to attach puffy felt hearts I bought at the craft store.

easy valentine bookmark tall text

Helpful hints about the project

  • Precise Edges: We used fancy-edged scissors, which turned out looking great but meant that gluing the two sheets together precisely is difficult. Ours are not at all “precise.”
  • Wet and warped bookmarks: My daughter really loved squeezing the glue on all of these so they were quite wet, resulting in warped shapes that give the bookmarks “character.” A glue stick may be the way to go if you don’t like that look.
  • Help your child cut the ribbon: I made two marks on our big sheet of paper that indicated the length of ribbon that we needed, so that it was easy for my daughter to measure and cut.

My husband was very enthusiastic when my daughter shared our finished project with him.  However, he later remarked to me in private that he thought the puffy hearts made the valentines not-so-good as bookmarks since they wouldn’t lie flat in their books. I still don’t know if that is the case since neither my daughter nor my son have used them.

Final note: At my daughter’s Waldorf preschool, her symbol is a mother hen, hence (ahem), the chicken stickers on our bookmarks.


Thanks for sharing this easy Valentine’s Day gift with us, Susan!


More Valentine’s Day Projects for Kids

Our Valentine’s Day board on Pinterest

Make an All-in-one Valentine Envelope

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

 

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

If you like to make your own Valentines but you’re pressed for time (or have a small and impatient child like me), all-in-one Envelope Valentines could be the way to go. Turning a heart-shape into both a Valentine and an envelope is a delightful way to surprise the card’s recipient.

This handmade Valentine card is made from a giant cut-out heart that’s then folded into an envelope. Simply draw your message on the heart, fold it up, seal it, and your Valentine is ready to go!

Since we started making Valentines in January, we’ve had plenty of time to iterate on the Valentine theme and recently whipped up these easy all-in-one cards that would be perfect to make for a group of classmates.

Because 2-year old N couldn’t wait to give all of these out for Valentines Day, they became Chinese New Year/Valentine Cards. My child lives quite happily in a post-modern world.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards Supplies

  • Paper
  • Stickers
  • Scissors

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 1

Cut out a heart, turn it upside down, and fold. If you’d like a tutorial on cutting hearts, this tutorial will make it easy.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 2

Fold the “top” (or bottom!) of the heart up so that the folded edges line up. Crease.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 3

Fold the “bottom” (top!) down, so that it looks like an envelope. I had to make a few of these before getting the location of the creases just right.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 4

Open it up and flip it over.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Write a message.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

And seal it up!

While my daughter is thrilled to cut paper and build sculptures, she hasn’t been the least bit interested in writing or drawing lately. So you can imagine my surprise when she actually had the stamina to make more than one of these!

When we sat down, I cut and folded a bunch of hearts and we got to work! Well, she folded, too…

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

We plowed through and made about ten of these before she had enough.

Handmade Valentine Cards: Making window decoration from our scraps

And when we were done, I recycled the cut-out Valentine scraps into window decor. Want more handmade Valentine cards ideas? Here you go…

More Valentine’s Day Inspiration

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

How to set up a self-serve card-making station

6 Valentine’s Day Activities for Preschoolers

Deconstructed Valentines

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!