Valentine’s Day Books . . . and messes!

Play Doh? I’ve got a recipe for that!

hangin' on my front door
hangin’ on my front door

Fabric? Which bin of scraps would you like to see?

Confetti? Let’s make our own!

Glitter? BRING IT!

I love messes. Or, to be more accurate, controlled messes. I’m not too keen on coming home to a kitchen with dribbles of cake batter on the countertop and ingredients spread out all over the place with the chef nowhere to be found. But if my child wants to bake a cake and attempts to clean up afterwards? All for it. Same with watercolors or modeling clay or hot glue guns or paper mache or

I just have a wee little addition to felt....
I just have a wee little addition to felt….

tie-dye.

I have my reasons, most stem from a mother who always allowed my sister and me plenty of time to create and cook and plant and sew and from the knowledge that doing is the best way to learn.

But, really, I’m a proponent of messes because they are fun.

You can imagine, then, my love for Valentine’s Day. (Truthfully, I don’t even care about Valentine’s Day, itself. I just enjoy the crafty preparations!) No tear-on-the-dotted-line store bought notes in this household. Oh, no! Valentine’s Day is an amazing opportunity to squeeze glue, pipe icing, peel stickers, mix colors, and make messes!  . . .and, of course, read books!

Valentine Books that inspire a little messiness include:

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall.aazoo

Brightly colored, the hearts in this book are assembled to look like animals. From a crab to a bull to a clam to a seal, these animals-who-are-made-of-hearts ooze creativity and inventiveness.

Fire up your scissors, as you’ll need to cut a bunch of hearts of all shapes and sizes. If you’ve got the time, have your youngster cut his own hearts (fine-motor practice galore). Either way, hearts. Lots of construction paper hearts. And then? Play with them! Experiment! See what animals you can make with an assortment of hearts! And when you have something you like, glue it down. Make another animal. Hang them up – create your very own heart-filled zoo as Valentine’s Day Decoration. Or? Use them as your own valentines!

The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bondday rain

One day, it rains hearts, and Cornelia Augusta (isn’t that a fantastic name?) catches a passel of them. She returns home, examines the different hearts, and “decided which ones would be just right for each of her friends.”

As in the book, take a look at your friends and begin to create valentines that fit their personalities. I know, I know, some schools these days actually ask that names not be written on each valentine. If that’s the drill at your child’s school, you can still make a special valentine to pop in the mail to someone! Cousins? Grandparents? Family friends? Neighbors? Grab anything you can find: bits of ribbon, cotton balls, magazines to cut up, leaves, sticks, bottle caps – anything at all that might reflect the recipient’s interests! And then? Glue, glorious glue onto hearts of all shapes and sizes. A valentine made especially for you? Nothing better.

Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirkten things

Rabbit visits his friend, Pig, one day to let him know he is writing a list of ten things he loves about Pig. While Pig is clearly flattered, he is also very busy and attempts to redirect Rabbit so he can get his work done. Long story short, Pig, too, has been working on a list. Good friends really do think alike. Each list is printed at the end of the story.

Okay, so you folk who are less than enthused about messes, the corresponding activity with this book just requires a pencil and a piece of paper. I mean, unless you want to add a border (it’d be a great excuse for some glitter…you know you want to). Lotsa ways to use this book! Quite simply, a child can makes lists: ten things she loves about each person in her life. Too much writing? That’s okay, reduce it to five – same idea! A family or classroom can do this and maybe draw names. Or, have each student write one thing he loves about another classmate – and everyone can go home with lovely, confidence-building list, filled with complimentary sentences, one per student in the class! And? This book could be a really touching gift. I’m thinking a clever parent could gift the book to a teacher as well as a list from all her students, “22 Things We Love About Mrs. Smith.” Or, same idea with a grandparent! “Ten Things We Love About Nana” with a copy of the book as a little Valentine’s Day decoration.

Slugs in Love by Susan Pearsonslugs

Herbie and Marilou are love struck snails who are having difficulty meeting. They scribe short but sweet poems to each other (using their snail slime!) but some complication always crops up. Never fear, our snails do eventually meet, and it is, in fact, True Love.

Everyone enjoys something in the mailbox that isn’t a bill! So, use Slugs in Love to encourage a little letter writing, be it real with stamps and envelopes or in a classroom station. Maybe you ask for notes in the form of small poems, as Herbie and Marilou do in the book, maybe not.  Take it a step further and use light colored crayons (white – or, the clear ones that you can get in egg-dying kits when it is Easter time) to write a message. Water color over the writing to reveal what has been said! Writing becomes so much more fun when the message is a secret one!

No matter how messy you wish to get as you prepare for Valentine’s Day, be sure to . . .

. . . keep reading.

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Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

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