Friday, March 9, 2018

Weekly Learning Theme: Valentine's Day

So, obviously, we completed this learning theme a while ago. I just haven't had the time to sit down and type up this post because the learning theme posts are so long and time consuming. Now that it has been about a month I figured I better go ahead and power through it. I used some of the same activities from previous years and added some new stuff too. Read about last year's theme here, 2016 here, and 2015 here.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. 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. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:

Writing Skills:
  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means adding to.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                 
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book.  
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature such as size, color, hard, soft). 
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
  • I showed Carter Valentine's Day written on a sentence strip. He pointed out which letters were capitalized and I talked to him about how we only write capital letters at the beginning of names and sentences. I told him that the name of a holiday is also capitalized.
  • Carter practiced with rhyming by coming up with words that rhyme with blue for the poem "Roses are red, Violets are blue..." He enjoyed that so much, I asked him to come up with words that rhyme with heart.

  • We put together a sensory bin like last year with fake rose petals as a base. I always crack up over how differently the kids play with the same items. I love seeing what interests them the most out of everything I put into the sensory bins. Elise loved putting on the heart shaped glasses. Carter liked tying things to one of the broken necklaces and swinging it around or hanging it from things. 

  • I found some Valentine's Day pattern block mats here. Carter liked making the heart and even wanted to count to see how many of each shape he had used. We talked about the shape names as he worked and discussed their attributes. Elise played with the pattern blocks too and I talked to her about the shape names and colors.

Counting and recording how many of each shape he used to make the heart.

  • I found some fun Valentine's Day cutting practice pages here. I gave Carter the full sheet and he cut on all the lines to make squares with hearts in them. I cut the rows apart for Elise so she had shorter lines to cut. I saved the squares with hearts in them and we used them to decorate our valentines when we made them.

  • We had a special Valentine's Day bath with items from the sensory bin and bubbles. We added color tablets to the bath to make it pink. Elise also wanted to have a tea party and enjoyed doing that as they played.

  • Carter kept talking about how much he enjoyed playing Bingo at school so I found a Valentine's Day bingo here. I put the pages into our special dry erase sleeves and then gave the kids Play Doh to use as markers. That way they were practicing their fine motor skills as they pinched off Play Doh and rolled it into balls. To make it a bit more challenging for Carter when I drew a picture I told him what sound the word started with and he had to figure out which picture on his board I was referring to. Once he figured it out, we told Elise which picture to cover. Carter didn't like that game as much and wanted to just play for fun so we only played it that way once and then the rest of the games I called out what the picture was. The kids got to pick out a sticker when they got a bingo.

  • Carter got a lot of practice writing his name during this learning theme! He wrote his name on all the valentines for his friends at school. This year he wanted to take packages of fruit snacks. They were a lot harder to write on so I suggested using sticker labels so he could write his name on the sticky paper and then put them on the package but he wanted to write directly on the package. I was impressed with how well he did considering that, as well as the fact that he had just broken his arm so he was writing with his left hand!

  • I found some cute Valentine's Day Play Doh mats here. Carter played with them for a while, counting out the cherries to top his cupcake. Then he moved on to making pretend cookies using cookie cutters with Elise. Nothing can beat making cookies!

  • We made valentines for our Meals on Wheels friends. Carter helped me come up with a poem to write on each valentine. He and Elise decorated them and he also signed his name on each one. Lots of name signing for this sweet boy!

  • I found some cute Valentine's Day do a dot printables here. The kids love using our bingo dabbers so I try to incorporate them into learning themes as often as I can. Carter enjoyed the counting and number practice. He also filled in a Valentine's Day graph. When he was finished we interpreted the data. We talked a lot about which had the most, least, same, and how much more certain ones had than others. He also used the dabbers to find and dot capital and lower case Hh's. Elise did dabber pages to fill in a V and an H.

  • I found some cute alphabet cards here. I played a game with Carter where we pulled a letter and said what letter we had grabbed. Then we came up with a word that started with that letter. Carter liked to keep going until he couldn't think of any more words that started with that letter. It was a fun game.

  • Since Carter enjoyed making different witch's brew with our Halloween sensory bin so much, I made up different Valentine's Day themed recipes for him to make with our Valentine's Day sensory bin. I put numbers with pictures of items on his recipe so he could practice identifying numbers and counting. On Elise's recipe cards I just drew pictures of items for her to add. She loved looking at her recipe and pretending she was following exact directions to make and then mix it.

  • I found some number cards here. Carter matched the number of hearts in the ten frame to the number card. He got so excited when he saw the cards, telling me he loves doing this game! It was cute.

  • I wrote Carter's sight words on special Valentine's Day cards and we practiced with the words.

  • We sang the Skidamarink song and then each of the kids wrote a book. They wrote something the like to do in the morning, afternoon, evening, and underneath the moon. I wrote what they dictated and then they drew pictures to illustrate their books. Carter got a kick out of reading the book he wrote a couple years ago using the same outline.

  • We used some paper hearts I punched a few years ago to use on valentines for some math practice. First I had Carter sort the hearts by color. The he counted them and I had him determine which color he had the most of and which he had the least of. Then I asked him how many purple he would need to add to have the same number as pink. I showed him how to match the pink and purple up and then see how many pink were leftover, unmatched to determine how many more pink there were than purple. We did that with different number sets. I also asked him how many pink he would need to take away to have the same number as purple. When we were finished with that we made some color patterns for each other to extend.

  • I gave Elise a heart I had hole punched so she could use it for lacing practice. Then she did some heart color sorting with big, foam hearts. First I showed her the three different colored hearts and asked her to identify their color name. Then I handed her a heart one at a time so she could put it with the like color.

  • We worked some more with Carter's sight words later in the week. He had a lot of fun making his sight words using magnetic letters. I showed him the book "The Heart" which I printed last year for him to read and practice colors. This year I wrote the sight words "the" and "is" down and he made them out of magnetic letters before reading the book. Then I read him the book and asked him to look for those words so we could highlight them with highlighter tape as we read. Each time he found one of the words he used the tape to highlight it. When we were finished he was really proud that he was able to read the book all by himself. Then he added a page to the end all by himself, asking me to help him spell rainbow.

  • Elise loved the book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch and we read it over and over. One time after we read it, I retold the story for her and explained to her what I was doing. A different time I asked her to retell the story to me. She still has the tendency to focus in on a couple of the aspects of the plot she finds the most interesting and wants to tell me them over and over so I prompt her to think about what came next or what else happened in the story.
  • The kids had a container of conversation hearts from their Gma and Gpa. We used them for color sorting and matching numbers. I found a color flash card for each of the colors included and had Elise sort her hearts onto the cards. I gave Carter a number flash card and asked him to count out that number of hearts onto the card. When they were finished they ate their candy hearts.

  • I have a small pink Christmas tree I used to use when I lived by myself. One year, after Valentine's Day, I found some ornaments on sale. I got them and we now use that tree as a Valentine's Day tree. The kids loved decorating the tree so much that I ended up putting a basket by the tree so they could take all the ornaments off and then put them back on. We ended up only losing one ornament that was stepped on and smashed while doing that, so I'll call it a win!
  • I had a fun Scholastic News about red and pink animals for Valentine's Day. We talked a little bit about a program we went to at the library that was put on by the zoo where they discussed reasons animals are bright colors. Then when Carter looked at each animal's picture I had him guess why that animal was that color. Once he'd guessed we read the little paragraph about the animal. He was really excited that he was right on all of them! On the back there was a graph which we looked at to answer some questions. I always love all the ways you can use graphs! We counted, talked about which had more, which had less, counted to see how much more or how much less. My Scholastic News is laminated so Carter filled in the bubbles for the correct answers with a dry erase marker. Elise wanted to try it too so when he was finished she practiced coloring in some of the bubbles.


  • One of my favorite activities each year is decorating our valentine bags which we put valentines in for each other. It's fun to see the kids' different personalities in how they decorate. It's also fun to see how they decorate differently as they get older. Elise wanted to cut out more heart squares as we decorated so she did that again. Stickers are still her favorite mode of decorating. Carter was really into the stamps this year.

  • Carter did a very pretty sponge painting at school. He loves using sponges and paint so he really enjoyed this one and was proud to show it to me when he brought it home.

  • He also made a very nice valentine at school for us. He was so excited to show me how you say I love you in sign language. I love that he learns fun little things like that at school!

  • Our library has a table set up for kids to color at. They print holiday-themed or seasonal coloring pages for the kids. Carter and Elise both love coloring when we go and they each did a few different Valentine's Day coloring pages while we were there throughout this learning theme. I guess I never took a picture though.

Special Snack:

  • We used Leina's sugar cookie recipe to make heart cookies for our neighbor. The kids also made her valentines to take over to her. They were so excited to dress as Super Cupids to surprise her on Valentine's Day! We made the cookies into hearts and then iced them with pink frosting, then decorating them with sprinkles. We made enough to share with our friends during our Valentine's Day playdate we hosted too.

  • On Valentine's Day we made a heart shaped pizza for dinner, following the tradition my parents started when I was a kid. Carter and Elise loved seeing a picture of Oma and Opa's heart pizza and knowing that they were eating the same thing for dinner. They were both great helpers and enjoyed making the pizza with me.

  • One of my friends mentioned she found heart pasta at Aldi so, of course, I had to get some! I planned to make mac and cheese for lunch on Valentine's Day with it but we ended up meeting Ty for lunch at McAlister's instead because kids eat free on Valentine's Day. So we had the heart pasta for dinner the following day. Carter was really excited when he realized the pasta was heart shaped.

Make Believe:

  • We had a lot of fun pretending to make cookies with Play Doh. Before we started Elise sorted the cookie cutters based on size and then lined them up from smallest to largest. We also talked about colors when we looked at the cookie cutters.


  • We listened to a Valentine's Day playlist on YouTube which we've also listened to in the past and enjoyed. Carter's favorite Valentine's Day song is Skidamarink so we sang that quite a bit. I also sang You are My Sunshine to the kids.


  • I had Carter practice counting with a Valentine's Day game on abcya here. He played it on the laptop last year and tried it at the library this year. The computers at the library are touch screen but he likes to use the mouse since we don't have one at home so he got some practice with the mouse.

 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:

  • This year we went to a Teddy Bear Ball at a nearby community center. It was the first time we had ever gone and the kids had a blast. It said to dress up and Carter was convinced if he wore fancy shoes he could wear his monster outfit and be dressed up. But he was worried Elise needed a teddy bear instead of Catboy since it was a teddy bear ball, not a stuffed animal ball. It cracked me up his selection on which rules were important. He took an extra teddy bear for Elise in case she couldn't have Catboy. They had a sound system and lights along with shakers and ribbons for the kids to dance with on the dance floor. They had part of the gym set up with little kid tables and had Valentine's Day themed treats for the kids. It was so cute and they had a blast!

  • We hosted a Valentine's Day party with our play group the Monday before Valentine's Day. The kids brought valentines for each other and had fun with the photo props I got on sale after Valentine's Day last year. Carter also had a Valentine's Day party at school on Tuesday.

  • This one is also a mixture of make believe because the kids pretended to be Super Cupids as we went around delivering valentines to friends. We took them to our neighbors, the librarian at the library down the street, and to Jeremy and Thomas. They were so excited and had a blast doing it.


  • Love Is You and Me by Monica Sheehan 
  • 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
  • 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   
  • Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney
  • I Love You with All My Heart by Noris Kern
  • Just Because You're Mine by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Valentine's Day Is... by Gail Gibbons
  • A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy
  • Big Hugs, Little Hugs by Felicia Bond
  • The I Love You Book by Todd Parr
  • We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu
  • Bear in Love by Samantha Davis
  • The Way I Love You by David Bedford and Ann Jones
  • Melvin's Valentine by Jon Scieszka
  • Happy Love Day, Daniel Tiger by Becky Friedman and Jason Fruchter
  • Happy Valentine's Day, Curious George by N. Di Angelo
  • Pride and Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams
  • Romeo and Juliet: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

  • Foxy in Love by Emma Dodd

  • Besos For Baby: A Little Book of Kisses by Jen Arena

  • Love Is My Favorite Thing by Emma Chichester Clark

  • Love is Real by Janet Lawler

  • Mama's Kisses by Jane Yolen

  • Click, Clack, Moo, I Love You! by Doreen Cronin

  • I Love Pete the Kitty by James Dean


  1. I loved their Super Cupids, and they sure look proud making their heart pizza.