Deconstructed Valentines: A Process Art Activity

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

If you’re preparing for Valentine’s Day crafting with your preschooler, one of my best bits of advice is to set up an open-ended process art experience that allows your child to make choices and feel creative.

Our local market does a good job at displaying an appealing array of holiday goodies just as you enter, and I’m often a sucker for such marketing ploys. They recently set up a lavish Valentine’s ordeal, and before even getting close to the milk aisle, I already had a shaker of heart sprinkles and a Fancy Nancy Valentine’s Day book (affiliate) in my hands.

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

My daughter skimmed through the book on the way home, and then devoured every word as soon as we had a chance to sit down together. We’ve been talking a lot about this mysterious “hearts and flowers” holiday, but I don’t think it actually began to sink in until we read the book.

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

Once we read the book, mere moments passed before the request to “make Valentine’s cards” came in and Project Deconstructed Valentine’s was underway!

It all began, quite obviously, with a pile of doilies, cut-out hearts, glue, and glitter.

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

And then the cutting began. And more cutting. Cutting, cutting, cutting. Any vision I had of  frilly Valentine’s with heartfelt messages was quickly replaced with one of hearts, cut into smithereens. A bazillion little fragments of love, splintered all of the table.

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

It wasn’t enough to cut up a sheet of paper. Oh, no. I had to cut hearts out of the paper first, and then hand them over for further cutting. Since we were collaborating, I was then instructed to glue the little shards to a doily, which is what you see here. A true collaboration, full of process-based goodness. And while the end-result may not be what I had in mind, I actually think we ended up with something far more interesting and fun to look at in the end.

How to Make Process Art Valentine’s Cards

Although I didn’t start with this plan, in retrospect I think this is what led to our success…

  1. Look at examples of Valentine’s Cards or Read a Book about Valentine’s Day
  2. Set up some basic Valentine’s materials – Doilies, Red and Pink Paper, Glitter, Glue, Scissors, Markers
  3. Provide materials in a color scheme that will make the end product look cohesive (i.e red, pink, white, and silver)
  4. See where it takes you without prescribing how the child should make their card
  5. Gift them, hang them, or repurpose them. N wanted to decorate the house with ours, and I had a package to send off to grandma and thought this would make for a festive gift topper.

deconstructed valentines: a process art activity

Kids Valentines Ideas Deconstructed Valentines


  1. Those look like fun! And they are much more beautiful than perfect shiny glossy mass-produced valentines!

  2. I’m posting a pic of my little guy’s valentine for this year. Don’t know if posting a pic will work, but I thought I’d give it a try.
    I was talking to my 3 and a half year old son about Valentine’s day because there is a party coming up at his little COOP preschool. We talked about how it was a day to show the special people in your life that you love them by giving them something special, aka, a valentine for each of his classmates. So I drew a heart and asked if he could make one, and he did, by the glow of a flashlight and filling his heart with lots of little pencil drawings of rockets and fire. I’ll be printing out a pic of him making his valentine and mounting the pic on some cards. Love it. These kids are geniuses.

    • Yay! You’re the first person to test drive the new photo-comments! And I love the picture and your story on so many levels: drawing by flashlight! filling the heart with rockets and fire! making his first heart! yes, kids are geniuses, and we can learn so much from their imagination and fearlessness.

      • Here’s an update to our “Project Valentine.” On the back side of the card it will read, “We made these cause my friends are special to me.” This was a collaboration of cutting, gluing, whole punching and printing…all while little brother gremlin slept.

        • thanks for the fab follow-up! it looks like each friend also receives a photo of how their valentine was made!? this is a rich lesson in giving from the heart (truly no pun intended!). i would love to get a valentine like this. beautiful. (and, i also noticed that you taped off your floor to make a big “table” – what a good idea!).

          • We often tape paper on the floor to draw right there in front of the wood stove. We’d been given a HUGE bag of broken crayons and the boys wanted to dump it out…thus the paper on the floor. To protect the floor and test out the crayons. We ended up there for Valentine making, and it worked out pretty well to catch glue and glitter.

  3. We have a Valentine’s project coming up at our preschool, too. We learned today that each child needs to bring 20 valentines. That means we’ll be making 40! I have pink, red, and white paper on my list, and while I was planning on hitting Diddams for some stickers for decoration, I think we’ll try glue and scissors first to see what we get. Thanks for a perfectly-timed post!

    • 40 Valentines!! I’d love to see pictures of how this goes for you all.

  4. I know my 2.5-year-old would love doing this – & I’m sure the 6-year-old would jump in. It sure would be fun to make Valentine’s this year instead of buying them. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks for sharing the link. What a unique idea, Steph!

  5. Oh, those are gorgeous! We usually hand out valentines from the Dollar Store to the classmates and make special cards for teachers and loved ones.

    I try to keep it simple and use our pad of construction paper and some stickers, markers, and leftover scrapping things. It makes for a couple of fun afternoons.

    • Keeping it simple is always a good idea, especially when there are so many Valentines to make!

  6. There is something amazingly gorgeous about child-made things. I think they’re beautiful. I was going to make Valentines with my daughter this weekend. Now I can’t wait!

    • thanks! i hope you all had (or will have) a good time making valentines.

  7. What a lovely idea! We’re Fancy Nancy fans around our place too and this looks like a project that would be right up our alley 😉 I especially love combining a good read with an art project — always a bonus!

    So very, very glad you joined in with MMM!

    ~Michelle @ 5MFSN

  8. (I’m hoping this comment isn’t a duplicate — I tried earlier and it didn’t seem to take)

    Your Valentines are absolutely lovely and I particularly love the idea of combining a good read with an art project! Beautifully done!

    So very glad you joined in with MMM — we’re going to have to give this project a go at our place (I have a Fancy Nancy fan of my own!)

    Happy MMM!

    ~Michelle @ 5MFSN

    • Hi Michelle! Your website is beautiful, and I’m glad to have found it. This was my first intro to Fancy Nancy, and I think we might be hooked. The language in the story cracks me up! It’s truly Di-Viiiiiiine!!

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