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

Are you trying to decide what special Valentine to give your child? Should you buy the box of chocolates or the candy conversation hearts? This would not be the healthiest choice! Would they really prefer the cute stuffed animal? That may not be the best way to spend your money either!  Instead of these purchased items, you can give your child something they will like and time to play with you. It’s free and you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of a sugar high!

It really is that easy and inexpensive to give your child the best Valentine’s Day present, a parents love and interactive play. This is what a developing brain needs most. A child’s brain grows best from positive experiences in every day life. Incorporating them into daily activities is very simple. Since Valentine’s Day is devoted to letting people know how much we care, it is a great time to give your child the love and play time they will cherish and benefit from for years.

Here are a few special Valentine activities that you can do with your child and a description of how the brain grows with each activity:

0-1 year oldsFuzzy KissesPlay a game with one of those stuffed animals your child already has. 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 likes patterns. Having a fun loving game make learning fun.

1-2 year oldsHide and Seek with a mirrorHold 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. Give ideas of different ways they can move: hop, jump, crawl, etc.
Movement activities help get more oxygen to the brain. The brain uses over 20% of the body’s energy, nutrients, and oxygen.

3-4 year oldsFind the HeartsCreate 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 connections the brain needs to learn basic math skills is during the preschool years. Your child learns best while having fun.

4-5 year olds
Count and SortProvide 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 activities go to
  Happy Valentines Day!!! 
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