Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Best Valentine's Day Gift for a Child: Love and Play

Love and Play
By Deborah McNelis    

It is not always easy to think of the best Valentine gift to give to children. Should you buy the box of chocolates or the candy conversation hearts? 

This would not be the healthiest choice!

Would they really prefer a new plastic toy? 

That may not be the best way to spend your money either! 

Instead of these purchased items, you can give something children always like and time to play with you!

Love and Play

It’s also free!  And you don’t have to deal with out of control behavior and moods that result from sugar effects on the brain!

Loving attention and a chance for one on one interactive play is all young children really want. Children (as well as adults) all have a psychological hunger for attention and stimulation.

A child’s brain grows best from positive experiences in their life every day.

“Regardless of the general environment, all children need stimulation and nurturance for healthy development. If these are lacking or if a child’s caretakers are indifferent or hostile, the child’s brain development may be impaired.” 
- US DHFS, Administration for Children & Families, Children’s Bureau 2001

Incorporating fun interaction into daily activities is very simple for any age child. Since Valentine’s Day is devoted to letting people know how much we care, it is a great time to give children the love and play time they will cherish and benefit from for years.
                Pre K and Sharing -
Here are a few special Valentine activities that you can do yourself or share with parents. Included also is a description of how the brain benefits with each activity:

0-1 year olds

Fuzzy Kisses
Play a game with a stuffed animal. Use the animal to give your child a kiss on the belly. Make a kissing sound. Next, you give them a kiss. Continue going back and forth.

A baby’s brain is dependent on experiences for brain growth.  Through this fun loving game valuable new brain connections are created.

1-2 year olds

Hide and Seek with a mirror
Hold your child in front of a mirror then turn away. Turn back to the mirror and say, “I love you”. Continue this fun game as long as they stay interested.

Showing you love your child through fun interactions makes connections in the emotional part of the brain. This is very important to develop especially in the early years.

2-3 year olds

Heart Hop
Using several small pieces of masking tape, make the shape of a large heart on the floor. Encourage your child to step on the dots and walk around the heart. Next give ideas of different ways they can move: hop, jump, crawl, etc.

Movement activities help the brain get more oxygen. The brain uses over 20% of the body’s energy, nutrients, and oxygen.

3-4 year olds

Find the Hearts
Create a hide and seek game. Use a deck of cards and hide the Ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of hearts somewhere in the room. Have your child find all 5 cards. Next let your child hide them for you to find.

The easiest time for the brain to learn basic math skills is during the preschool years. A child learns best while having fun.

4-5 year olds

Count and Sort
Provide a sorting activity.
Give your child various conversation hearts (or various shaped cereal or macaroni) to sort by color (size or shape). Using muffin tins makes sorting easy.

The thinking part of the brain organizes by making associations with things that go together. It helps your child to think about how things are alike.

These ideas are adapted from brain development activity packets. For more fun daily activities for each age from Birth – 5, go to or……

The NEW and EXCITING Early Education Emporium!!! 

Here you can get a wide variety of resources to provide wonderful experiences for developing young children best!! THAT IS LOVE!!

  Happy Valentines Day!!! 


  1. love this post Deborah so many clever creative fun ideas!

  2. Thank you for the great ideas! I am just getting ready to get something for the kids in my classroom and did not want to get candy. I may do a minnie version of this for ideas for the parents...

  3. Ava and Elizabeth, It is great to know that you have enjoy the post and find the suggestions helpful! Have fun playing and giving love!


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