Every holiday brings it’s own set up expectations. Valentine’s Day is all about LOVE–or friendship. Unfortunately, as with all holidays, the realities don’t always meet up to people’s expectations. When it comes to kiddos, you can emphasize other aspects during this time.
One quote I love is:
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents by Emilie Buchwald.
This is so true as parents are their children’s 1st and most important teachers! Of course, being a grandma, it’s important to note grandparents and other relatives, as well as teachers and caregivers, also read to children 😉
During February, the month of LOVE, help your child develop a LOVE for reading! Commit to reading at least 1 story/day for the the month. That’s potentially 28 different stories, unless it’s a Leap Year. I wouldn’t worry about gathering up 28 or 29 books though because most kiddos love to have a favorite story read and re-read to them over and over again. Which is actually a good thing!
Yes, February and Valentine’s Day typically are all about LOVE. But how about giving room for other emotions as well? IMHO children are expected to be happy and upbeat an unreasonable and unrealistic amount of the time. It’s great if they are, but what they’re not? Kiddos certainly shouldn’t feel they are bad or something’s wrong with them. That’s why I think it’s important to get into the more volatile emotions.
Children need help identifying emotions and managing them. It’s unfair, to expect kiddos to control their behavior if they don’t have the words to name what they’re feeling. At preschool, we’d use music and movement plus books, visuals, activities and toys to help children pinpoint how and/or what they were feeling. An additional consideration parents have now: The increased use of electronic screens is making it more difficult for children to read people’s emotions. Helping children develop their emotional intelligence is more important than ever.
Get in Touch with Emotions Through Music and Movement
It’s important to help children pinpoint what emotions they might be feeling, how those emotions are manifesting in their body as well as recognizing the signs in others. One of the music and movement activities we did in preschool was a variation on the classic If You Are Happy, And You Know It. In this variation, the movements include body language that express emotion too. A lot of children are not aware of these non-verbal forms of communication. As with everything related to engaging kiddos, exaggerate your expressions/movements and embrace being silly when you do this!
SING: If You’re Happy And Your Know It
Now replace happy with different emotions:
Mad – cross your arms
Frustrated – stomp your feet
Excited – jump up and down
Sad – make a frown
Scared – hide your face
Another feelings-themed action song to use is I Have Feelings.
SING: I Have Feelings (Tune: “Twinkle, twinkle little star”)
Get in Touch with Emotions Through Books…
Feelings are feelings. Part of growing and developing is learning how to manage those feelings. I give children ‘permission’ to feel what they feel. Of course that doesn’t mean acting just any old way. But to be able to have control over their behavior they need to be able to first recognize and name the emotions leading up to it. The following activity helps kiddos develop the ability to be able to read non-verbal body language.
READ: When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
This is a great book to open up a conversation on anger. Strong emotions affect people differently. There are different strategies for diffusing, coping with, and handling anger. What I especially liked about this story was, in the end, the family was happy to welcome Sophie back in.
Get in Touch with Emotions Through Learning Activities…
Sorting Activity: Happy vs Angry
Photos of children angry and happy (see below)
Happy and Angry label (see below)
Clear contact paper or laminating at store
● Print out and laminate the above photos
● Place Happy and Angry labels on work space
● Let your kiddo go through the photos
● After they’ve explored the photos, have them sort them into the happy or angry category
● ASK why they’ve put the photos in those categories; what was it about the photos that told them it was that emotion?
Near Valentine’s Day I’d read The Dove’s Letter by Keith Baker at preschool group times. This story was the perfect introduction to talking about the many different ways people show others they love them. Children experience deep, heart-felt emotions. I remember many times being touched by the thoughtfulness or tenderness of their comments.
Developing Literacy Skills…
Heart-shaped doilies are in classrooms everywhere around Valentine’s Day. Sure you can use them to make homemade valentines. You can use them in art activities. They can even be used as coasters for snack time. But I had an idea to use them to help build their directionality, their spatial awareness. Our language is based on a top to bottom and left to right orientation for both reading and writing. Directionality is the ability to identify the alignment or orientation of an object in relation to its position to another object. Examples would be: Is an object to the left, on top, underneath, or beside an object? Before a kiddo can get to that point, they need to have (hands-on) experience with positions.
Heart Positioning Activity
Card stock 15″ x 15″
(13) heart shaped doilies
Red yarn 12″
Clear contact paper or laminate at store
● Glue doilies onto card stock in different configurations (up, left, right, down) See above
● Laminate card stock and (1) heart doily
● Make a small hole to thread yarn through the center of the card stock
● Tape yarn securely to the back of card stock
● Thread other end of yarn through heart doily and tape in place
● Let your kiddo align the heart to the shapes on the card stock
● ASK them how/where the heart is pointing. For the left and right they may say to the side. Perfectly valid. Add the terminology Left or Right.
Join Me at StoryTime!
I really hope you can take the Book Challenge for February. If you find you don’t have enough books and/or you can’t get to the library to borrow books-no worries. You can still invite your kiddo to your lap and listen to me read at StoryTime! BTW, no stress or pressure if you can’t do the whole month of February. DO what you can.
Yours in Play!