Valentine Beanbags!

14 02 2011

Raise your hand if you know I tend to go overboard at Valentine’s Day.

Ah, I see more than half of you with your hands up. As you may have guessed, this year was certainly no exception. We’ll see how much time I can find this week to show you all of our projects.

First up, I made a pile of bean bags out of left over felt from Seth’s halloween costume, an old grey t-shirt and a large bag of rice. I had everything on hand except the rice, which I found on sale – bonus! I would have preferred to have found some old sweaters to felt down or some lovely new wool felt to use, but time and money were not on my side so I made do.

Eleanor helped fill them with the rice. She and her brother also helped sweep up the rice after one rather large spill that happened when my back was turned. I just kept repeating in my head – practical life lesson, it’s ok, breath, practical life lesson….

In this pile, you can see one with the tag hand sewn on. It was the only one that had a tag by the time the sun was going down yesterday.  I purposefully sewed the hearts a little wonky twice around, but I’ll admit by the time I was on my 22nd one they were REALLY wonky.  I somehow doubt the 3 to 5 year olds will care though.

I suggested to Eleanor that she might want to write an E on the back of each card, but she would have none of it. She wanted to trace her full name on each and every card. The crazy part is she did it! Half last night and the rest this morning. We were a little late for school, but I wasn’t going to stop that concentration and persistence.  Even last year Seth didn’t make it through signing all his valentine’s and his name is so much shorter than hers. It was very unexpected. She even added a little sticker to each one.

I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Find someone to hug and slowly enjoy a good chocolate treat.

Valentine Garland

11 02 2011

Although I really wanted to make Jackie’s Valentine Bunting, I just didn’t have the type of string in my stash that I was envisioning in my head. When that happens, I’m just never satisfied with any other options.

Since I still wanted a garland to hang up and the kids were asking for a valentine’s day craft project I went a different route.

Turning toilet paper tube rolls into hearts is certainly not new, but it did fit my demands of the day. In fact, it turned out better than expected. The kids got to paint pink hearts, Eleanor got to do a bit of lacing with sparkly yarn and not a single person that has walked into my house could tell that we used toilet paper tubes until I told them.

Love these action shots of Eleanor concentrating so hard on her lacing. I think the close up makes it look like the needle was magically sewing by itself but it was jut a fluke that I caught it mid-air after she dropped the needle.

And while we were waiting for the paint to dry we made super yummy banana chocolate chip muffins. Seth thoroughly enjoyed mashing the bananas. We only made a half batch though and they were gone FAST. I plan on making another full batch for Monday morning.

Family Valentines

18 02 2010

This last Saturday, the day before Valentines Day, the entire family took a class at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Originally, it was going to be just Seth and I, but then it evolved into a family event. I’m really happy it did, because we had a blast.

The instructor, Ellen Ferrari, was great at getting AND keeping the kids interest. Considering the age span of children from 2 to 5 or 6, this is quite a feat.  What’s more impressive is how she knew exactly how to explain the techniques so that everyone from Eleanor to Seth to Steve to little ol’ me could understand. She provided plenty of materials and even allowed us to take home what we didn’t use. This was especially nice as the adults, of course, didn’t get as much time to work on their own cards.

The playing card valentine at the top was made by Seth. He really enjoyed the uniqueness of each type of valentine and all of the different materials. This pocket valentine is by Eleanor. She learned how to use a bone folder! Silly me, I had never even thought to show her a bone folder even though I always know where mine is. She spent much of her time in the class coloring and glueing. This little master piece, however, was completed at home the next day. The folding had been done in class but it still needed embellishing. So while Seth and his father worked on breakfast, Eleanor and I hid in my bedroom finishing up our valentines. We spread all the materials we had brought home over the bed and just went to town. The best part was when the light bulb went off over Eleanor’s head and she figured out the scissors. After that I couldn’t stop her from cutting little bits of paper to glue in place.

To think, these are just a few of the valentines we made. There was a total of 4 per person worked on. And even though it was a class aimed at preschoolers I learned something too – how to make pop out hearts!

Seth’s Valentines

17 02 2010

As I mentioned, Seth’s valentines did NOT go as smoothly as Eleanor’s. The issue was not with the valentines themselves. They were inspired by Jean at The Artful Parent and turned out fabulously. The challenge had more to do with the fact that Seth wanted to do everything himself. He wanted to write the words and lace the ribbons. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had cut out the hearts in one night at the very beginning, he would have wanted to do all the cutting too! And I wanted to let him. Needless to say, making 20 of the same valentine in less than a week, only during the few hours after work is a bit of a challenge for a 5 year old who has only been writing letters for about a month. There were tears. A lot of them. He made comments about how they weren’t perfect and he knows “mistakes are bad”. My heart went out to him and I tried to boost his confidence and calm his nerves but it was stressful.

In the end he finished half of them and I finished the other half. As far as I can tell he was still proud of his accomplishment and happy with the results. Note to self – start at least 2 weeks before Valentines Day next year!

Make Your Own Stickers!

15 02 2010

Seth needed a valentine box this year. So much energy went toward the valentines themselves that we didn’t even think about the box until Wednesday. So box picked out – now what? I worked hard at suppressing the 6th grader in me who won an award for a 3 foot tall masterpiece by chanting “he’s only in preschool, he’s only in preschool”. So I pulled out  our box of tape and started playing. What would happen if I layered tape on parchment paper and cut out shapes? And you know what? It worked! I basically created heart shaped stickers for Seth to place on the box at will. I can see this working for all sorts of cheap sticker fun. I’m imagining geometric shapes for building pictures. Here’s what we did:


  • Colored tape – masking, electrical, painters, duct, fabric…
  • Parchment paper (I bet wax paper would work as well)
  • Scissors

I placed strips of colored tape, overlapping them slightly until achieving the desired size. We tried all the varieties of tape listed above and all worked like a charm.

Then I cut out the hearts using the fold in middle/cut half a heart method.

The peeling off was really, really easy. Not like the store bought variety where often fingernails are required.

The whole process went extremely quickly. Can you imagine how much fun this process would be with boxes of tape like this?

Kick Off

7 02 2010

We kicked off our week of hearts and pink  this weekend.  After some painting with tons of red paint and a little pink the bathroom sink needed a good scrubbing. Seth really had the best intentions trying to help clean up, but… So when he ran off to play, I cleaned up his sister’s paint brush and gave the whole sink a good scrubbing. It looked so shiny and clean I decided it needed some new soap. Heart shaped soap. Handmade by my sis. They were a little lonely so I added the flower one, also made by her.

We also pulled out the heart matching game I made last year. Now I just need to find time this week to help Seth make his Valentine’s Day box and the rest of the cards. And don’t even get me started on the felt bean bags with hearts that last year I swore I would make for this year. Or the crocheted heart chain garland. Or…or…or…

Valentine Memory Game

11 02 2009

Although I think candy and Valentines Day go hand in hand, I also think the kids get plenty without me adding more. So instead of attaching a piece of candy to Seth’s valentine cards I made a heart themed memory game.  I used watercolor pencils to create heart and heart themed images. Simple yet Seth really seemed to get a kick out of them.

I then scanned all of my images and went about cropping & sizing them to fit a grid of 2×2 squares on a Word document. Interested but don’t have either the time or the desire to draw your own? Download mine by clicking here: Valentine Matching Game.

Make your own with these materials:

  • 2 Sheets of images (yours or mine) printed on heavy weight paper
  • 2 Sheets of heavy weight color paper for backing
  • Glue – I used a spray adhesive until I ran out and then moved on to PVA, but any white glue should work here.
  • Brush for glue (if not using spray adhesive)
  • Newspaper or catalogs to prevent any glue or spray adhesive going where you don’t want it to.
  • Wax paper
  • 4 Self laminate sheets or contact paper
  • Paper cutter or use a blade, ruler & cutting mat

Now follow these steps. (Just don’t try to do a dozen a couple days before the big day like me. I’m nuts.)

  1. Completely cover the back of the image paper with glue. If using a white glue make sure to spread thinly all the way to the very edge or the layers will peel apart later.
  2. Lay image paper on backing and smooth down.
  3. Place between sheets of wax paper (to prevent sticking) and then under heavy objects like books or, in my case, a giant box of craft supplies.
  4. Allow to dry. It’s best if you leave it over night but at least give it a couple hours.
  5. Sandwich between 2 layers of laminate.
  6. Trim excess off edges to square everything up
  7. Cut down to approximately 2 inch squares. I thought I’d want to be more precise here but it’s really not necessary. In fact, little fingers appreciate it when things aren’t all perfectly sized. It makes them easier to grab off a stack.

Now you just have to find something to put them in. Us? Well, we took another shot at sponge painting and had moderately more success toward our, er, I mean MY goal. I know kids art is all about the process not the product, but when you need valentines, you need valentines. Seth sponge printed hearts onto envelopes and I’m writing the To So and So, From Seth, Happy Valentine’s Day on them. I don’t see any need for a card to go along with it. The envelope is the card.

Now I just have to worry about Eleanor’s cards. I had stary eyed dreams of sewing up little bean bags similar to this for all of her classmates but have since given the idea up. I was even going to cut hearts out of her paintings for the cards. Seriously. What was I thinking? I even bought a 5 lb bag of rice. Anywho… Now, I’m just thinking of printing something fun off. I adore these and these, but they don’t have birds or dogs in them. I figure if Eleanor isn’t going to participate in making them they should at least be something she likes. I’m considering these ones with the bird even though they are meant for wallpaper I could size them down. Anyone know of any cute downloadable puppy themed valentine cards out there?

Candy Cane Hearts

2 02 2009

We have an amazing pile of candy canes still left in our house. Steve bought a rather large box of the small size ones just after Christmas for a quarter. The expiration date is in 2010 so I suppose I could keep them for next Christmas but that seems wrong, expiration date or not. Both kids would eat them all day if it wasn’t for the fact that I keep them in the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes. Anyway, I loved the idea of turning our Christmas treats into Valentines Day treats. It’s quite brilliant. I followed the extremely simple directions from Make and Takes. Either I should have adjusted the time because I used the small canes vs. the large or well, uh, I shouldn’t have accidently turned off the timer in the middles and had to guesstimate how much longer to bake them. Because, as you can see, they oozed a little in a few spots. But no matter, I still love how they turned out and was amazed at how easy they were to shape when I took them out of the oven.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

13 02 2008

Pile o' tissue paper hearts
Pile of tissue paper hearts

Despite all you naysayers, Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. Yes, it can be romantic, but it can simply be sweet as well. It’s a time to use pink and hearts to excess, which is so un-me. It is a time to let friends know you care. And it’s especially endearing to celebrate it with children.

As my oldest is now three I’m also creating future expectations with every holiday. My first goal is to avoid the commercial side of the spectrum and focus on simple homemade fun. My second is to not get carried away.

Last year we just put up hearts on the windows made out of construction paper decorated with crayon and glitter glue. This year I decided to go for home made Valentines. After several failed attempts we finally settled on our card design. I was inspired by this project noted by The Artful Parent, who in turn got it from the book Scribble Art by MaryAnn Kohls. We created faux stained glass out of wax paper, liquid starch and tissue paper hearts left over from one of the said failed projects. We then cut out sections and glued them onto cards I had precut & folded.

Painting with starch Drying
Making “stained glass”

Seth really enjoyed painting with the starch but didn’t have enough interest to create enough for both his cards and his baby sister’s so I finished up. Once dry I cut down the larger sheets to pieces a little smaller than our cards. Seth helped glue them to the cards; green for him, pink for Eleanor. He also colored, with green crayon of course, on the inside of each of his cards. I’m very happy with the results. So happy in fact, that I plan on doing the project again for actual window decorations similar to the one on The Artful Parent.

the end result


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