Katie Howard, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Love is in the air this week. Valentine's Day for grown-ups might mean a dozen roses and a date night or even an anti-Valentine's Day celebration. But for kids, Feb. 14 brings an added burst of red and pink fun to an otherwise bleak winter day.
The holiday is a reason to have a festive classroom party and send and exchange valentines in the mail with their friends and family.
Do you remember decorating a shoebox to act as your mailbox to receive valentines from classmates? I do -- as well as the little red doilies I used to make with the white construction paper messages for my classmates. However, like everything for kids today, valentines and class parties have received an upgrade.
Here are some new and old school ideas for classroom and home celebrations for your little valentines:
Bouquet of Valentines
There are a variety of valentines for kids that cover a spectrum of favorite TV, movie and book characters. Valentine senders can also get do-it-yourself kits from craft stores like Michael's and A.C. Moore. Target, Wal-Mart and other local toy stores carry a selection the kids will appreciate too.
But one thing I noticed after my daughter's first class Valentine's Day party was the amount of loot and bling she brought home. I quickly caught the drift that Valentine's Day doesn't just mean a little card anymore -- there's merchandise and goodies now involved.
Many of the valentines she received included a pencil or little knick-knack toy. Some of her friends even attached treat bags with their messages. That's when I realized I better up my game when it comes to this holiday.
We came up with the idea of lollipop flowers to send to her friends and teachers. We enjoy making them together and bringing them to class arranged like a bouquet.
- Red and pink construction paper
- Hole puncher
- Glue stick
- Optional: A styrofoam holder from any florist that can be used to hold up the flowers for presentation.
- Trace a pair of hearts on a sheet of construction paper.
- Cut each heart so that they are the same size and color.
- Place one heart on top of the other with each point of the bottom of the heart toward the other.
- Glue the hearts one on top of the other together.
- Poke a hole in the center with the hole puncher.
- Stick a lollipop through the hole to hold the Valentine's Day greeting and act as a stem.
Another Valentine's Day family-friendly or party activity is to prepare cookie dough with heart-shaped cookie cutters sold at most grocery stores or Target. My daughter loved using a rolling pin to flatten sugar cookie dough from a mix and cut out hearts with the cookie cutters. We followed the cooking instructions, and when the cookies cooled, we decorated them with pink icing, candy hearts, Red Hots and gel messages. If your family is staying in on Feb. 14, this is a fun, low-key and inexpensive activity.
Italian-themed dinners make for appropriate fare for little valentines on Feb. 14. Most kids love pasta, and the World Market and Fresh Market stores sell heart-shaped pasta. My daughters love to eat the pasta hearts with a little tomato sauce and a cucumber tomato salad on the side. It's fast, easy and festive.
What you need:
- Heart-shaped pasta
- Tomato sauce (your own recipe or store-bought)
- Medley of red cherry and heirloom tomatoes
- Balsamic vinaigrette
- Mozzarella cheese balls are also a tasty addition, but optional
- Follow the instructions for the pasta and sauce.
- Slice and peel cucumber into tiny bites.
- Slice the cheery tomatoes into halves.
- Drain pre-made mozzarella balls or scoop mozzarella cheese into little balls.
- Add the cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and Balsamic vinaigrette together and stir.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving.
Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog "Good to Go."
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