Teacher Appreciation Week: Gifts They’ll Love

by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

Every day, teachers do a million incredible things, from designing mathematical adventures to reading books in the perfect character voice. Teacher Appreciation Week (May 1 – May 5) is our big chance to say “thank you!” Here are some gift ideas to help you come up with the perfect way to show your teacher they are appreciated.

Idea 1: Bundle up some books.

Teachers always need more books for their reading corners or libraries. Bundle up some of your favorite titles along with other reading-time essentials, like Story Wands. Of course, there’s always room for a personalized message! (“You made this year one for the books!”) This also makes a great group gift! Just have each student make a contribution, then wrap all the books together.

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Idea 2: Dazzle them with décor.

Have you ever met a teacher who doesn’t love storage bins? Teachers enjoy sprucing up and organizing their classrooms, and even small accents can really brighten up a space. Vibrant borders and colorful organization bins help give any classroom a mini makeover.

Idea 3: Customize a basket of supplies.

I guarantee every teacher in your life always needs supplies. Turn a bunch of school essentials into a thoughtful gift basket using the art of presentation. We nestled arts & crafts materials in a Clear-View Storage Box.

Idea 4: Make a memory book.

Nothing says “thank you” like fond memories from students. Grab a Blank Hardcover Book and have kids fill it with memories from the school year. Kids can work independently—or with the whole class—to write messages, draw pictures, create collages, paste photos and more. Teachers will love whatever their students decide to do!

Idea 5: Create a teacher-style “tool belt.”

Glue, scissors and pencils disappear around my house all the time, and I only have one kid! This gift idea helps teachers keep important items where they’ll always be able to grab them in a snap. To make one, just fill an All-Purpose Teacher’s Utility Apron with essential supplies. You can even throw in a cute message to make it more personal. We love “Thanks for giving us the tools to succeed!”

Idea 6: Put it on a card.

A gift card is perfect in nearly any situation. To add a personal touch for Teacher Appreciation Week, pair a gift card with a classroom essential and a cute pun. Here are some examples:

For even more ideas, check out our post “Gift Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week.”

Learning Through Sensory Play

by Patti Jo Wilson | Lakeshore Professional Development Specialist

Sensory play isn’t just about touch. It’s about engaging all the senses children use to learn about the world. In fact, the more senses children use during an activity, the more learning potential it has. Sensory play can even help babies meet developmental milestones!

Follow these tips to infuse any space with opportunities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy sensory play at school or at home.

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Sensory play for infants:

  1. Stimulate visual development using secure mobiles babies can swipe, bat and grab.
  2. Play soft, soothing music to nurture babies’ hearing. Be sure to avoid harsh, sharp and loud sounds. You can even purchase CDs made just for little ones, like Singable Songs for the Very Young.
  3. Provide a wide variety of soft sensory toys. For example, our star-shaped beanbags are perfect for sensory play because they incorporate textures and colors little ones love. If you’re caring for nonmobile children, take the toys to them.

Sensory play for toddlers:

  1. Set up stations for sensory play. You can use full-sized units, like our Toddler Sand & Water Table, or simply place a variety of sensory objects in a craft tray filled with dry rice. Try to include items that stimulate as many senses as possible, like Stack & Nest Sensory Toys featuring bright colors, bold patterns and fun-to-touch textures.
  2. Add soap and different types of sponges to your water play area. Toddlers will love playing with the soapy bubbles and squeezing the sponges.
  3. Play a variety of sounds and have children guess what they hear. You can even group sounds into categories to make the guessing easier.
  4. Introduce dough play! There are plenty of store-bought options, like Lakeshore Dough or Theraputty™, and it’s even easy to make your own.

Sensory play for preschoolers:

  1. Set up a secondary sensory table to provide even more opportunities for kids to explore. Stock it with open-ended sensory items that can be left out for long periods of time, like our Nonhardening Modeling Foam or our Tactile Letters.
  2. Turn a nature walk into a tactile scavenger hunt. Ask kids to collect objects that are smooth, rough, heavy, shiny, squishy, etc.
  3. Set out shaving cream to help kids explore touch and smell. Children love squirting shaving cream out of the can and squeezing it between their fingers!
  4. Have children take off their shoes and explore with their feet while walking on sensory mats, like our Silly Shapes Sensory Mats. You can even use the mats for seating!
  5. Let kids paint with their fingers! Change up the texture by adding glitter or picking up some of our Foam Sensory Paint.

Sensory play at home:

  1. Help babies respond to sensory stimulation by massaging them after their baths. Rhythmically massage their arms, legs and torsos using a baby-safe lotion or oil.
  2. Help toddlers collect items that have different textures (like bubble wrap, flannel, aluminum foil, kitchen scrubbers and sandpaper) to put in sensory books they can feel and explore.
  3. Poke holes in the tops of small containers and fill them with items that smell different (bananas, vinegar, vanilla, etc.) so children can explore with their noses.

Find our top picks for sensory play here, and start filling your space with opportunities for exploration today!

References:

  1. “Infant Massage for Babies with Sensory Impairments,” California Deaf-Blind Services, last modified 2011, files.cadbs.org/200001096-b825fb91fa/Infant%20Massage.pdf.
  2. “Why Infant Massage?,” Infant Massage USA®, accessed 2017, http://infantmassageusa.org/parents/parents.php.
  3. Thompson, Stacy D. and Raisor, Jill M., “Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children,” NAEYC 2013. Accessed 2017. https://www.naeyc.org/yc/files/yc/file/201305/Meeting_Sensory_Needs_Thompson_0513.pdf.
  4. “Growing In Sync Children,” NAEYC, accessed 2017, http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/growing_in_sync_children.
  5. “Why Sensory Play is Important,” The Spruce, last modified September 1, 2016, https://www.thespruce.com/why-sensory-play-is-important-2086510.

2017 Blog Ambassadors

by Victoria Montoya | Lakeshore Director of Public Relations

We are thrilled to introduce our 2017 Lakeshore Learning Ambassadors! These moms and teachers share our passion for finding creative ways to help children learn. We can’t wait to read all the brilliant ideas they’ll share as they join us in our mission to help children reach developmental milestones and achieve educational goals—while still having fun!

Follow our blog for their tips, tricks and activity ideas, and make sure to visit their blogs to learn about the experiences they’ve had using Lakeshore products with kids.

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Apples and ABC’s, Michelle Griffo 

A passionate teacher with 10 years of experience, Michelle has taught kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. She loves creating engaging classroom environments where all students can develop emotionally, socially and intellectually. Michelle is also a blogger at applesandabcs.com, where she shares teaching tips, teacher style and curriculum for the primary classroom. When she’s not teaching or blogging, she’s busy being a mommy!

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Michelle loves having kids play with sensory bins because they incorporate all her favorite things—bright colors, a hands-on element and an academic focus.


Busy Toddler, Susie Allison 

Welcome back! Susie is the blogger behind Busy Toddler and a busy mom to three busy kids. That’s a whole lot of busy! Making it to naptime each day is a big deal in her house—a house full of kids under the age of four! Susie loves finding easy, simple and creative ways to keep her little ones active throughout the day. Her activities are engaging and fun, and—most importantly—they can be re-created in seconds using household items. A former elementary school teacher, Susie’s goal is to share activity ideas with other parents and help them make it to naptime, too.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Susie prefers sensory-based activities. Susie loves inviting her kids (and their friends) to get a little messy and have a ton of sensory fun playing with JELL-O®, finding foam letters in cornmeal and more.


Mom Inspired Life, Danielle Buckley 

Danielle is a stay-at-home mom with two kids, ages three and six. As a former elementary teacher, she enjoys the opportunity to educate her own children at home. She loves creating fun and playful learning activities that engage and excite her kids. She started the website Mom Inspired Life three years ago because she wanted to inspire parents and teachers to make learning fun!

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Science experiments top Danielle’s list of activities! She’s learned that nothing excites and engages children as much as scientific exploration, from growing plants to combining baking soda and vinegar to create a reaction.


Munchkins and Moms, Clarissa Hooper

Welcome back! Clarissa is a master bubble blower, accomplished mud-pie baker and dedicated home-preschool mom of two boys. She’s also a learning-through-play advocate! Teaching her boys in fun and creative ways is her greatest passion. In her spare time, Clarissa is the writer behind Munchkins and Moms, a blog where she shares playful learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Clarissa loves taking her kids on field trips, which include visiting museums, touring a local bakery and more. She loves the opportunity to learn on the go!


Fun with Mama, Nadia Tayob 

Nadia is the mother of three wonderful kids! She has two girls (ages 3 and 8) and a boy (age 10). She started her blog, Fun with Mama, to celebrate the magic of childhood from a mother’s perspective. On her blog, Nadia shares parenting tips, activity ideas and pointers for encouraging creativity at home. She is passionate about early childhood education and believes that children should have a dedicated art area at home. Nadia loves spending time with her kids and creating intentional, play-based learning opportunities.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Nadia loves simple activities that are engaging, challenging and full of fun. She once threw plastic letters into a tub of water. Her daughter caught them with a strainer, saying each letter out loud and giggling the whole time.

Learn, Create and Explore—7 Easy Springtime Activities

Guest Blog by Lindsay | Blogger from My Creative Days

Hello, Lakeshore readers! It’s Lindsay from mycreativedays.com. I’m here to share seven spring activities I use to get my kids learning, creating and exploring. Try these activities outside to soak up the spring sun, or save them for indoor play on a rainy day.

Activity 1: Make and share mini treat baskets.

My kids love making these baskets and sharing them with friends, family and neighbors. Lakeshore’s All-In-One Craft Tub, Collage Pots, Collage Flowers and Brush-On Washable Painters are perfect for this activity. Since the Collage Pots are not too big or too small, they’re easy to decorate, and they hold just the right amount of goodies.

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The kids painted the pots with Brush-On Washable Painters. These painters were a huge hit with the kids. They loved how the paint came right out of the brushes, and I loved how we weren’t wasting paint since the kids could squeeze it out as needed. (My kids usually pour way too much paint when preparing for a project, and most of it gets wasted.)

Then the kids added Collage Flowers, Wooden Collage Letters and other embellishments from the All-In-One Craft Tub. We glued chenille stems to the inside of each pot to make handles.

These baskets are going to make our friends and neighbors very happy this spring! We plan to hang them on doorknobs and put them on teachers’ desks.

Activity 2: Craft a carrot garland.

My kids swell with pride when they see their handiwork displayed in the house. When I told the kids I needed a spring garland to hang on the wall above our entry table, my daughter thought a carrot garland would be perfect because we already have a bunny “wreath” hanging on the wall.

To make the garland, I folded a piece of orange construction paper into eight rectangles.

Then my daughter drew a carrot on one of the rectangles.

She then refolded the paper so she could cut out a bunch of carrots at once. Next, we punched a hole in the top of each and made carrot tops using green chenille stems from the All-In-One Craft Tub.

Finally, we strung up the carrots to make the perfect garland to complete our spring entry table!

Activity 3: Use STEAM skills to design floating boats.

This Design & Play STEAM Boats Kit is perfect for hosting an all-day playdate, which we did at my house. The kids colored and designed for hours.

The Design & Play STEAM Boats Kit comes with everything kids need to put a boat together. Some of the kids looked at the pictures on the box to get ideas, while others decided to wing it.

After the boats are completed, kids can take them to a sink or tub to see if they float. But since we have a creek at the end of our street, we were able to turn the activity into an outing. I packed a snack while the kids designed and decorated. When they were done, we grabbed our picnic blankets and went down to the creek. I set up the blankets and the snacks while the kids tried to float their boats. They had a blast watching their boats sail down the creek. They also got to see fish and frogs, skip rocks and climb around until they were tired. Talk about the perfect day!

Any activity that lasts more than a few minutes is a favorite in my book! I’m dreaming about using the Design & Play STEAM Boats Kit at our next birthday party. We could all design our own boats and eat cupcakes as we watch them float.

Activity 4: Explore textures on paper eggs.

Exploring and playing with textures is fun at any age! We cut out big eggs using construction paper from the All-In-One Craft Tub. Then we created cool designs on each egg using washable paint and sponges in different shapes and textures from the Big Barrel of Art Sponges.

My daughter loved testing out the different sponges. She manipulated them to produce cool effects. I think she ended up decorating at least six eggs. They make our refrigerator bright and happy for spring!

Activity 5: Plant seeds and watch them grow.

Planting is one of our favorite things to do in spring and summer. Not only is it fun, but it also teaches kids patience as they learn that seeds need time and care to grow. Planting is a full-circle activity that truly produces something in the end—in the ground and in kids’ minds.

Ever since we added an outdoor kitchen to our backyard, our daughter has been all about dirt. When she saw Lakeshore’s Watch & Record Plant Lab, she was excited to plant some seeds. The Watch & Record Plant Lab is amazing, because it shows kids how the growing process works as it happens. It includes heavy-duty bags that don’t rip as kids handle them. This is a major plus when kids are working with dirt!

Activity 6: Create chicks in nests.

A list of seven spring activities would not be complete without a chick craft! This craft can be customized to any learning level. If you have young children, help them out by preparing all the pieces. If you have older children, they can work independently.

The All-In-One Craft Tub had everything we needed for this craft. We used construction paper, feathers, glue, markers and wiggly eyes. We cut out circles to make the chicks. Then we cut out orange triangles for the beaks. We glued colorful feathers on each chick and added wiggly eyes. The older kids added “twigs” to the nest with the brown marker.

Simple crafts like these are easy to pull together to keep kids busy while you do other things. I always have ideas and materials stashed away so I can grab them in a pinch.

Activity 7: Color a rainbow!

The All-In-One Craft Tub has a lot of pieces that are perfect for crafting and learning. When I was thinking about a spring activity that would incorporate learning, I thought a rainbow would do the trick. For this activity, we cut a cloud from white paper and glued cotton balls all over it. Then we counted and sorted craft sticks to make the rainbow.

I wrote numbers on the bottom of each wooden stick, and the kids counted and glued foam squares from the All-In-One Craft Tub on the rays. This got them categorizing colors and counting.

The rainbow is so pretty and colorful! Keep this craft in mind when you want kids to create and learn during the same activity.

I hope these activities help you integrate lots of creative fun into your spring!

If you liked this post, come over to My Creative Days and say hello! I am always creating something, and I would love to have you visit my project today.

Creative Days Blogg

4 Tips for an Engaging Toddler Learning Environment

by Ron Mohl | Lakeshore Lead Educational Presenter

Toddlers make new discoveries everywhere—especially in their own learning environments! When you create a nurturing space filled with excitement and wonder, you can help toddlers develop social-emotional, language, motor and cognitive skills. Follow these four tips to create an engaging learning environment that sets toddlers up for success through play.

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Tip 1: Encourage choices to foster independence.

Furniture can be especially helpful to toddlers’ physical development. Toddlers might try standing and walking at any moment. Support their curiosity and independence by filling your environment with super-sturdy units with rails, like our First Steps® Double-Duty Storage Center. Toddlers can use the furniture to pull themselves up and maintain balance during their first steps.

Keep your space stocked with safe materials toddlers can easily grab and use. For example, our Soft Seats make it easy for little ones to choose where they want to sit in a play area.

Tip 2: Help toddlers soothe themselves.

The ability to self-soothe is important to the social-emotional development of toddlers. Make sure your environment includes areas where toddlers can get some privacy while remaining in view, like our Toddler Treehouse Hideaway. Areas like this help toddlers soothe themselves until they’re ready to play with others.

Tip 3: Facilitate sensory learning.

Sensory exploration helps toddlers engage with their environment and connect to learning. Look for sensory materials that make sounds, look stimulating and feel interesting and inviting. Here are some examples:

Tip 4: Be a play partner!

Increase the value of play by getting involved! Join children on the floor and describe actions and objects to help build vocabulary. You can even make the experience more comfortable with our Backpatter’s Seat.

As toddlers play, ask open-ended questions. If they’re using our Community Play Carpet, you might ask:

  • Where in town can we park our cars?
  • Where in town do you want to work?

Allow for conversations that have back-and-forth exchanges. Even if you get a simple coo or goo in response to a question, show respect by following up with a reply.

Perfect your learning environment! Check out our new catalog to find developmentally appropriate materials for infants and toddlers.

Lucky Day Sight-Word Game

by Jennifer Corrado | Lakeshore Marketing

This easy-to-make St. Patrick’s Day game lets kids follow lucky horseshoes to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But there’s an educational twist! Kids need to use sight-word skills to reach the prize.

Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just print out multiple templates and add more supplies!

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You will need:

Directions:

  1. Match each player with a partner.
  2. Give each pair a Lucky Day game board and a set of shamrock sight-word cards. Invite players to get creative and color both items.
  3. Give each player a leprechaun to color, cut out and use as a game marker.
  4. Explain that the object of the game is to follow the path of lucky horseshoes to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
  5. Have players place the shamrock sight-word cards facedown in a deck. Then have them take turns selecting a card and reading the sight-word.
  6. Players advance their leprechaun marker to the next horseshoe when they read words correctly.
  7. The partner whose leprechaun marker reaches the pot of gold first wins!

Variation:
To modify this game and practice newly acquired vocabulary words or more difficult sight-words, simply print out the blank cards and write in your own words. Then make as many copies as needed.

Product Spotlight: Design & Play STEAM Kits

by Kirk Iwasaki | Lakeshore Senior Product Designer

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. It’s where STEM concepts, like critical thinking and engineering, meet the creativity of art. Our Design & Play STEAM Kits help kids integrate artistic flair and STEM knowledge to create vehicles with the perfect balance of good looks and functionality.

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How do kids use the Design & Play STEAM Kits?

Kids use the kits to design and create real-working cars, boats and planes.

They grab their own arts and crafts materials to decorate and add custom details to the precut pieces. Once they’ve built their vehicles, they can add finishing touches.

Next, they test their creations. They might discover that improperly aligned wheels make a car wobble or that acrylic gemstones make a plane too heavy to soar. Kids fine-tune and test their vehicles until they discover an ideal combination of engineering and design.

What will children learn?

Since these kits are open-ended, they cover a variety of concepts. For example, children could learn about:

  • Problem solving—as they troubleshoot through the design process to build their vehicles
  • Cause and effect—as they test and adjust their vehicles
  • Natural forces, such as gravity, motion and buoyancy—as they create flying planes, racing cars and floating boats
  • Communication—as they design with partners

Kids will also learn how to use creativity and perseverance (a key 21st-century skill) to create something unique. That’s what kids love most—creating a one-of-a-kind vehicle that looks and works just the way they like!

5 Ways to Enhance Dramatic Play Through Family Engagement

by Ron Mohl | Lakeshore Lead Educational Presenter

Have you heard the term “family engagement” lately? It might make you think of conversations around the dinner table, game nights or even park outings, but there’s a little more to it! Family engagement refers to the practice of families participating in activities with children to maximize learning. One way you can work family engagement into existing routines is by using it to enhance dramatic play.

The five ideas below pair family engagement with dramatic play to help children have fun while developing practical skills in literacy, math and more!

Idea 1: Take a walk in someone else's shoes!

Dressing up is an important part of dramatic play. As children pretend to be construction workers, firefighters or nurses, discuss what these community helpers wear and why to familiarize kids with the real-life careers their costumes represent. For example, you could talk about the helmets, bright colored vests and traffic signs included in construction-worker costumes. Ask children why they think real construction workers wear these items so they can take away a deeper understanding of protective clothing worn in the real world.

You can even turn every errand into an eye-spy game to find dress-up ideas! When you go to the grocery store or post office, ask kids to observe what people wear. When it’s time to play dress-up again, kids can recreate the wardrobes they saw in real life.

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Idea 2: Tool around.

Dramatic play encourages children to act out different professions by using tools of the trade, such as a doctor’s stethoscope, chef’s utensils or cashier’s register. Playing with tools helps children boost fine motor and problem-solving skills as they figure out how to accomplish specific tasks. As children play, consider asking them these questions.

  • What could a fisherman use to catch fish?
  • What would an astronaut need to explore space?
  • What does a firefighter need to fight fire?

Asking questions will inspire kids to invent their own tools, leading to a fun-filled family weekend of designing and building dramatic play accessories.

Idea 3: Put on a show.

Create an experience everyone can share! Dream up a circus act complete with a ringmaster and clowns, start a rock band using cardboard instruments or put on a puppet show. The whole family will have fun, plus there’s learning in every aspect of planning. For example, creating flyers incorporates literacy…and setting up a stage requires math skills and spatial awareness. Everyone in the family will enjoy the planning process as much as the final presentation!

Idea 4: Respect traffic patterns together.

Trucks, cars and trains have a way of revving up kids’ imaginations! Have you ever noticed kids pretending to be different vehicles as they walk, run or ride trikes? Give their play an educational boost by placing traffic signs around the house or in the yard so they can practice following traffic patterns. When you go on walks or rides in the car, ask children to identify traffic signs and signals. You’ll be amazed at the transfer of understanding from play to real life!

Idea 5: Work STEM into dramatic play!

STEM (the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) helps children solve problems using a simple design process that involves planning, creating and testing. It’s easy to work these steps into dramatic play! For example, as kids pretend to be construction workers making cardboard forts, they’ll plan what materials, sizes and shapes to use; create the structure; then test it to make sure it stands upright. For an activity that incorporates STEM, dramatic play and family engagement, simply work as a family while asking kids thought-provoking questions about their building plans.

9 Tips for Encouraging Kindness in the Digital Age

by Marianne Kelley | Lakeshore Professional Development Specialist 

All babies are born with the capacity for empathy. However, spending too much time using devices such as smartphones, tablets and TVs can weaken this skill. That’s why it’s important to help children practice kindness and caring from an early age, especially in our constantly connected world.

Now this doesn’t mean we should block kids completely from using technology! To encourage kindness in our digital world, we adults simply need to set rules for media usage, monitor kids’ online interactions, use parental controls and, most importantly, set a good example.

We hope these tips will help you find new ways to nurture empathy.

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Tip 1: Build a vocabulary of words that describe feelings.  

  • Use simple words to describe the emotions of others. (Look at that lady’s beautiful smile; she must be very happy!)
  • Label your feelings and ask children to do the same.
  • Act out different scenarios and discuss how the people involved might be feeling.

Tip 2: Decode nonverbal cues by reading facial expressions and body language.

  • Help children learn to read nonverbal cues by pointing out specific examples. Ask kids how someone who is crying might be feeling, and encourage them to think of ways they might help.

Tip 3: Work emotional words into everyday life.

  • Work more emotional words into your discussions with children. (I’m so happy to see your smiling faces today!)
  • Encourage children to use more emotional words each day. They can even practice identifying emotions in themselves using our Moods & Emotions Mirrors.

Tip 4: Watch movies without sound.

  • As you watch, ask kids to guess the characters’ feelings based on their facial expressions, movements and more.

Tip 5: Read!

Tip 6: Model empathetic behavior. 

  • Start volunteering, and be sure to discuss your experiences with children.
  • When you’re upset, happy, sad, mad, etc., label and explain your feelings. If you’re uncomfortable sharing your own feelings, model emotions with our Feelings & Emotions Washable Dolls. Use them to act out scenarios that will help children understand different emotions.

Tip 7: Incorporate empathy into your discipline style.

  • When children require discipline, prompt them to consider how their actions affect others. For example, if the negative behavior involved pushing, ask the child how it feels to be pushed.

Tip 8: Give back.  

  • As a group or team, collect toys and clothing to give to shelters or charities.
  • Ask kids to share their ideas for helping the community.

Tip 9: Follow the golden rule.

  • Treat others (and animals) as you want to be treated—all day, every day.
  • Give kids specific examples of the golden rule in action with our Learning to Get Along Book Set. These books walk kids through sharing, listening, resolving conflicts and more.

And never forget the best way to inspire kindness in children—getting involved and showing them you care!

Valentine Tic-Tac-Toe

by Chelsea Guerrero | Lakeshore Marketing

This Valentine’s Day, I’m helping kids to give tic-tac-toe a makeover! I know they’ll love decorating these reusable boards and thinking up kind phrases to write on the heart-shaped game pieces.

Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just print out multiple templates and add more supplies!

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You will need:

Preparation:

  1. Cut the foam sheets into six-inch squares. You’ll need one for each crafter.
  2. Photocopy the Heart Shapes template onto white construction paper. Or you can provide foam sheets for kids to trace the shapes onto. (Each game board requires two sets of five hearts.)

Directions:

  1. Provide each kid with a foam square.
  2. Have kids share Glitter Glue Painters to make wavy lines on the foam to create their tic-tac-toe boards. Tell them each space on the game board should be about the same size.
  3. Give each kid a copy of the Heart Shapes template. Have them color in five of the hearts so they can easily see the difference between Player 1 and Player 2.
  4. Ask kids to cut out all 10 hearts to use as game pieces. Or instruct them to trace the hearts onto foam sheets and cut them out.
  5. Now have kids write kind words or phrases such as “Love,” “Be thankful” and “Make friends” on each game piece.
  6. After the game boards have dried, invite kids to play Valentine Tic–Tac–Toe with a partner!

Extension:
Remind kids that tic-tac-toe is more than just a game of chance. Invite them to share their strategies for thinking ahead and winning the game! Will any moves ensure a win? Are there ways to predict what their opponent will do? What moves might block their opponent from winning?

If your kids love Valentine’s Day crafts, join us on Saturday, February 11, for a free in-store event! Click on the banner below for more information.