Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Valentine's Day/Love

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday.  I love all the hearts, sweetness, and love that goes along with it.  So naturally I was really excited to plan a whole week of activities around the theme of love and Valentine's Day.  Every time I got the chance to pull out something heart shaped I giggled with excitement.  I think all of my joy rubbed off on Carter because he really, really enjoyed this week!

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives from the original ones we focused on because Carter mastered those skills.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Take turns in a simple game.
  2. Understand the meaning of mine, his, hers.
  3. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).  Since Carter was doing so well sorting by shape and color I already started having him sort by other features.
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  Carter can count to 3, but we're still working on understanding what each number means.

  • On Halloween Carter had such a blast with our pumpkin version of musical chairs that I decided to make a heart version to play this week.  I cut out hearts on 7 different colors of construction paper.  Then I drew a different shape on each heart.  For the first few rounds I turned the shapes to face down so we could practice color.  I played little clips of Valentine's Day songs I found here.  When the clip was over Carter would sit down on a heart and I'd have him tell me what color it was.  Then I'd draw a tiny slip of paper out of a hat and he'd tell me what color it was.  We would cheer each time and would cheer especially loudly when the color I pulled matched the color he was sitting on.  After a few rounds I flipped the hearts over and we practiced shapes.  Before starting I had Carter tell me the names of the shapes and I helped him with the names he didn't remember.  He had a blast and it was so much fun to watch him!
    While I was pulling the music up on my computer, Carter pulled the slips out of the hat and matched them to the same color heart.  It was adorable!  I get so proud when he does stuff like that all on his own!
    Ready to play!
    Checking to see what shape he was sitting on.
  • Last week I went to Dollar Tree to look for heart beads and doilies for projects going with this theme.  I got really excited when I found fake flower petals and just had to get them along with a few other fun things to make a sensory bin for Carter.  I put together a sensory bin with fake flower petals, foam hearts, heart necklaces, and heart table decorations.  Carter really enjoyed grabbing a handful of petals and dropping them so he could watch them float back down.  He also liked scooping up the heart decorations and the heart necklaces and spilling them back and forth into different measuring cups.
    He was so excited to put the necklace on when he found the first one.
    Spilling the beads from one measuring cup to the other.
  • I looked all over the place for heart shaped beads so Carter could make necklaces or bracelets while practicing his stringing skills.  Of all the places I looked, I was shocked the only place I found them was Dollar Tree!  Carter enjoyed stringing the beads onto the string to make his bracelet.  He would get really excited and tell me what color heart he had each time.  But then once I tied his bracelet and tried to get him to wear it, he didn't want to.  He ended up bringing it to me later in the day because he wanted to wear it then.  I was going to have him make me one, but then he threw beads all over the floor so we had to clean up.  And, believe it or not, since we were sitting at the kitchen table to make them Harper assumed they were food and ate a bead.
Showing off his bracelet during snack time.
  • I was so excited to make valentines with Carter this year.  Last year he fingerpainted some valentines, but I was so excited for him to actually be able to color and put stickers where he wanted.  I went through all my stickers left over from my classroom and pulled out all the hearts and Valentine's Day stickers while Carter got started coloring some white hearts I cut out of printer paper.  Once I put the stickers on the table I realized I'd made a mistake.  I should have had him color all the hearts and then moved on to stickers.  Once the stickers were out, that's all he was interested in.  I held him to 2 stickers per heart and then put them away.  Then I told him it was time to add color to the valentines.  He very nicely sat and colored every singe valentine, but instead of coloring like he normally would, he very carefully colored over the stickers and no where else.  Now I know for next time, color first, stickers second!
    Adding stickers to a valentine he'd colored before I got the stickers out.
    Going to town with the stickers!
    Deciding which valentine to color next.  Notice the only part he's colored is over the stickers!
    Very carefully coloring over the stickers on a valentine.
  • My mom gave me a Valentine's Day puzzle a while back so I pulled it out to do with Carter.  It was a bit difficult so he started it and lost interest moving on to other puzzles while I finished it.
    Working on a shape puzzle as I finished up the valentine puzzle.
  • There were too many fun ways to do sensory bins this week, so we did 2.  I dumped all the stuff out of Carter's fake rose petal sensory bin and filled it with water that I dyed red.  Then I put in some floating foam hearts, his heart bead necklaces, and the heart decorations to play with.  I sat and played with him for a while and then started dinner while he continued to play.  He loved it and played with it for a long time!  That's the advantage of our sink leak ruining the floor, I wasn't worried about him making a mess.  Surprisingly he only spilled one measuring cup of water out of the bin and he did it directly into his lap, so not too much clean up required!  Carter enjoyed the water sensory bin so much I took the supplies into the bath tub on Valentine's Day so he could have a special Valentine's Day bath.
  • We happened to have red Play Doh so I pulled that out along with all my heart cookie cutters.  Carter had a blast making hearts out of Play Doh.  We really need to invest in more Play Doh for him, right now he only has 2 containers.  I'm thinking it'll be a perfect little gift to stick in his Easter basket!
  • Carter loves playing hide and seek with his Sunshine doll my Aunt Judy and Uncle Mike got him for his birthday.  So I decided to take one of the large foam hearts I had and play hide and seek with it.  I would tell Carter somewhere to hide the heart, practicing with directions and words such as on, beside, under, etc.  Then I'd go search for it.  It was a lot of fun!
    Hiding the heart beside a car.
  • I saw an idea for making heart binoculars out of toilet paper rolls here.  Carter wasn't interested in painting the toilet paper rolls so I had him decorate them with stickers.  While we were making the binoculars Ty went outside and put foam hearts around the yard and on Carter's outdoor toys.  When we were finished we took the binoculars outside for a heart hunt.  Carter had a blast searching for hearts in the yard and excitedly ran to each one he found, but he wouldn't use his binoculars so I ended up wearing them around my neck the whole time hoping he would change his mind.  He never did, but he finally played with them later when we were inside.
    Bringing me a heart he found.
    Running to another heart he found.
    A view of Carter handing me a heart, Elise, and the binoculars.
    Trying out the binoculars inside.

  • Just like with the mitten we used to practice lacing during our winter week I hole punched around the outside of one of the foam hearts for Carter to practice lacing.  He would put the string through one hole and then just pull it all the way through.  When we were practicing with it he didn't want me to take pictures so I just took a picture after my mom had laced it all the way to show Carter.
  • I cut small, medium, and large hearts out of different colors of construction paper.  My mom saw them on the counter and didn't know what they were for so she used the large ones to make valentines.  It actually worked out really well to only have small and medium hearts because Carter was a little bit confused sorting the hearts based on size.  It made it easier to only have 2 sizes.  He kept wanting to sort the hearts based on color.  We ended up doing it together the entire time instead of me modeling and then letting him try it independently.  I'd show him a heart and place it next to the small heart asking him, "Is this heart small?"  Then I'd put it by a big heart asking him, "Or is it big?"  He'd either tell me big or small or point to the appropriate pile.
    He wanted to sit in my lap so I couldn't really get a picture, but I thought this one was cute!
  • I saw an adorable footprint valentine here.  I painted Carter's foot and made a footprint on paper.  Then I glued the doilies on, added a face and the words, and we were finished.  Carter thinks it's hilarious when I do his footprint and laughs the entire time.  I did this same project with Jake and was surprised when he squirmed and didn't want the paint on his foot at all.  I'm so used to how Carter is that I wasn't expecting him to dislike it.  I've been lucky with Carter's patience when it comes to handprint and footprint crafts and I sure appreciate it!
  • When I was cruising through pinterest one day I saw a picture of a Valentine with a little toy maze stuck to it that said, "I think you are a-MAZE-ing!"  5 years ago Ty and I bought a bunch of heart shaped mazes on sale after Valentine's Day and used them on our kid table at our wedding.  I ended up with a bunch leftover and have been storing them in my Valentine's Day container.  I figured they were the perfect Valentine for Carter to make for his friends.  I cut pieces of card stock into 4 strips and gave them to Carter to color, but he wasn't having it.  So finally I decided to give him a full sheet of card stock to color and then cut them out when he was finished.  I taped the maze on, wrote the words, and voila, we had our valentines finished!
    Decorating the card stock for his valentines.
    One of his finished valentines.
  • One evening Ty, Carter, and I all sat down to decorate brown paper bags to use for our valentines at home.  I pulled out stickers, stamps, glue, hearts I cut out of paper, and markers.  Carter had a blast using the stamps and he was so excited to hang the bags from our mantle.  Then I had him put a valentine he'd made for Ty in his bag which he was very excited about.  We used the bags to practice mine, his, and hers.  I'd point to a bag and ask him whose it wasAt first I helped him to say mine for himself, his for daddy's, and hers for mine.
    Daddy helping Carter with a sticker.
  • I checked out the book My Heart is Like a Zoo for our zoo themed learning week.  When we read it I realized each page had an animal made entirely of hearts.  Carter loved the book and so did I so I re-checked it for our Valentine's Day week.  We read the book again and then I asked Carter which animal he wanted to make.  Of course he picked the caterpillar which was the only animal that spread over 2 pages!  I cut out hearts and then helped him glue them together while we looked at the book to get the hearts in the right place.  When we were finished he asked me to make the frog so we also made the frog.  It would be a really fun activity to do again when he's older.  Then it would be his job to figure out how to put the hearts together which would help him with spatial orientation and problem solving.
    Comparing his finished caterpillar to the book's caterpillar.
    Starting on the frog.
Special Snack:
  • Throughout the week I gave Carter snacks in the shape of a heart.  Some, like strawberries, I just cut a little differently to make them look like a heart.  Others I used a cookie cutter to make them heart shaped. 
Enjoying a heart shaped pumpkin waffle for breakfast.
  •  We sorted conversation hearts by color and then Carter got to eat them as a special treat.

Make Believe:
  • We didn't do anything that fit into this category during the week.
  • I found a whole list of songs with links to listen to clips of each song hereThe clips were perfect for playing musical hearts as they were all about 20-30 seconds long and instead of stopping the music when I wanted Carter to stop, the song just ended.   
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We hosted a Valentine's Day playdate on Thursday.  I got out all kinds of materials to decorate valentines and set up our table as a valentine making station.  In case of overflow I also put out place mats and a container of markers on Carter's kid table.  I cut up apples and then used a cookie cutter to make them heart shaped and cut strawberries up to look like hearts for snack.  A couple of families ended up with sick kids the night before/morning of so we ended up with just 2 friends, but Carter still had a blast, especially because one was Landon.
The supplies all set up and ready for our playdate.
Carter's kid table decorated.  Carter and Landon ended up eating their snack here.
Carter and Landon decorating valentine bags.
  • My parents came down for the weekend so we could all run the Sweetheart Run together on Saturday morning.  We've run the race in the past and this year it was actually on Valentine's Day!  Everyone but Thomas was signed up for the 5k and Carter was signed up for the fun run.  Carter hung out with Thomas while we all ran and then dad, mom, Jeremy, and I ran and walked the fun run with him.  Afterward they served pancakes with a little container of syrup on the plate.  Carter went home a happy, sticky mess!
    Getting ready for the race.
  • Throughout our Martin Luther King Jr week and this week Carter made valentines for residents at a nursing home down the street.  It was a beautiful 70 degrees on Valentine's Day so we walked to the nursing home and dropped off the valentines for them to pass out to residents.
Ready to head to the nursing home.


  • I Love You, Little Monkey by Alan Durant
  • Love Is You and Me by Monica Sheehan 
  • Otter and Odder: A Love Story by James Howe
  • You Know What I Love? by  Lorena Siminovich
  • I Am Small by Emma Dodd
  • Everyone Needs Love by Sophie Piper
  • The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
  • Kiss Me, I'm Perfect by Robert Munsch
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
  • I Love Valentine's Day by Hans Wilhelm
  • Hugs by Alice McLerran
  • Love, Splat by Rob Scotton
  • Valentine Friends by Ann Schweninger
  • How Spider Saved Valentine's Day by Robert Kraus
  • I Love Hugs by Lara Jones
  • I Like It When by Mary Murphy
  • Valentine Mice by Bethany Roberts
  • The Best Thing About Valentines by Eleanor Hudson
  • Franklin's Valentine by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
  • Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
  • Bear in Love by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
  • If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant
  • My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall   
  • I Already Know I Love You by Billy Crystal
  • Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney
  • I Love You with All My Heart by Noris Kern
  • Valentine Hearts: Holiday Poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • Just Because You're Mine by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Valentine's Day Is... by Gail Gibbons
  • The Ballad of Valentine by Alison Jackson       

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