Valentine’s Day is another opportunity to celebrate in your nursery, but you might feel that your usual traditions may be a little outdated and don’t fully celebrate the inclusive opportunities possible. In this article, we share activities for EYFS this Valentine’s Day for your children, exploring how you can make this day inclusive and celebrate all forms of love.
What you can find in this article:
Why celebrate Valentine’s Day in your nursery?
Valentine’s Day is a time to show love and kindness to those who are important in your life. Parents often save their child’s first crafts they create at nursery, Valentine’s Day cards being top of the list. Your nursery will have traditions and go-to crafts and activities to make for Valentine’s Day, but is your current practice inclusive and fitting to the modern-day celebration of love? It can be easy to overthink how to celebrate traditional seasonal events like Valentine’s Day; ultimately, it is a day designed for love- the love of those who care for us and whom we care for.
Why is it important to celebrate Valentine’s Day inclusively?
It is important to know what we mean by inclusive; it can often be thought of as supporting children with SEND. Inclusive practice has a much larger coverage than most realise. True inclusive practice in EYFS is the design of an activity to represent and include all people. From gender identity, SEND, race, economic background and spoken language.
Inclusive practice in the nursery is vital to develop well-rounded children who appreciate the differences we all have and how we work together. Alongside promoting that love is love, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to build children’s communication and language knowledge, and fine and gross motor skills. Think of the number of instructions and steps that are followed when creating a Valentine’s Day card (not to mention the handful of new words they can learn and use).
How should you explain Valentine’s Day to toddlers?
Valentine’s Day can be pigeonholed as a day for romantic gestures; toddlers are too young to understand (or care about!) the traditional rules of the day. Due to clever company marketing and television adverts, children can be persuaded that showing someone you love them must be paired with buying them gifts.
We recommend explaining the day to toddlers as an opportunity to share kindness and love with people they care about. Your aim for this seasonal event should be to create an environment where all your children feel safe to share love with anybody they care about- regardless of gender or age. Encourage Valentine’s Day cards and crafts between friends, family members and even nursery staff if they would like to.
How can you be inclusive this Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day can be misrepresented in media, card choices and promotional materials- heterosexual couples can dominate the images children will see about loving couples. It is important to show a representation of what a loving partnership may look like from an early age; it doesn’t necessarily need explicit teaching to explore sexuality and different family make-ups. The frequent use of different family units, same-sex couples, diversity of skin colour, and physical abilities promote the important message of equality and diversity with toddlers.
Think about the language you and your nursery practitioners use when discussing the day or sharing information via your nursery software. Consider the family structures your nursery children are familiar with; they may have a mum and a dad (living together or apart), have two mums or dads, live in a single-parent household or with grandparents or foster parents. Blossom’s digital diary helps you to share all the activities for EYFS that you explore.
Ensure your language is sensitive to the children’s experience whilst introducing them to different family structures they may not be aware of. If your nursery team members feel comfortable, they could share their family set-ups, recognise different lifestyles and broaden the children’s knowledge of differences.
Seasonal celebrations like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween can be exciting for the children in your childcare setting, as they experience different crafts and activities that include fun sensory play ideas. However, you should be mindful of those children with a SEND diagnosis or who are on the pathway to diagnosis. Change to routines can be stressful and induce anxiety in neurodiverse children. Use your nursery software to message parents and inform them of changes in routines, including meal timetables, to help support those who require structure and routine for a successful day.
Additionally, Valentine’s Day can often be associated with chocolates and heart-shaped sweets. Be mindful of any children who may be diabetic or have dairy intolerances or allergies at this time. You can use Blossom’s online child profile to monitor all your children’s allergies, and ensure no children will be excluded from your planned Valentine’s Day activities.
14 activities for EYFS to do on Valentine’s Day
1. Mail me a letter
Using an old cereal box, create your own mailbox to send cards to nursery friends and team members.
2. Ways to be kind
Discuss during circle time how they can be kind to others. It might be sharing a game, helping a friend, smiling to someone, saying hello, giving a compliment or asking a new friend to play.
3. Secret kindness act
Each child is given the name of another child or nursery practitioner in the morning. They are then tasked with being extra kind to this person for the day without sharing that they are their secret kindness name.
4. Heart mobile
Using some sticks you might find on a woodland walk, use some pre-cut pieces of string to create a hanging heart mobile. Tie some hearts that are already cut out with a hole punched through, an excellent fine motor skill activity for the more dexterous toddler!
5. Recyclable heart stamp
The middle of a toilet roll has endless recyclable craft possibilities when it comes to activities for EYFS. And Valentine’s Day is no exception! Try folding the middle in and securing it with masking tape or an elastic band to create a heart shape. This can then be used as a stencil with paint- perfect for Valentine’s cards.
6. Fingerprint hearts
Use some non-toxic paint and place two fingerprints close together to create a heart shape. This type of sensory play is excellent for developing tactile experience whilst creating a masterpiece.
7. A woolly heart
Draw a large heart template onto a piece of card (you can draw or print these), then give the children some pieces of string and some PVA glue (diluted with a splash of water). The children will dunk the string into the glue mixture and place it onto the heart template- don’t forget the aprons for this fine motor skill activity!
8. It’s a wrap
A heart template with a hollow middle and some string are needed for this next activity. Use some sticky tape to secure the end of the string to the heart template and encourage the children to wrap the string around the heart. A dexterity challenge as well as creating a heart-shaped gift for a loved one.
9. A ‘pizza’ my heart
Bring out the pizza bases and create a tasty lunchtime meal (possibly for your themed-meal). You can encourage the children to follow patterns you may find online linking to hearts or buy heart-shaped bases.
10. Heart sort activity
Create or print out a selection of hearts- you could also display these on an interactive whiteboard if you have access to save printing. Discuss with the children the different groups they could sort them into based on colour, shape, size, 3d/2d shape.
11. Heart collage
Who doesn’t love a collage? Arm the children with a heart template, some different sizes, colours and textures of resources (paper, cards, crepe paper, material) and create a heart collage for a loved one.
12. Bubble paint stencil
Using straws, the children will blow paint bubbles around a solid heart-shaped stencil (this can be using a piece of firm card cut into a heart-shape). Once dried, they can write their Valentine’s Day message in the middle.
13. Heart wands
When spreading kindness and love, a wand can be handy to use. Using some kebab sticks (or sticks you have found on your outdoor travels), stick a heart shape on the end and decorate lavishly. This wand can be used to spread kindness and love from your nursery all the way home.
14. Heart ice cube science
Heart-shaped ice cube trays can make for an interesting science experiment about melting ice. I wonder if the shape of the ice cube makes any difference in the melting rate. It is never too young to spark curiosity!
How to involve your nursery parents in your Valentine’s Day celebrations
Share through the child’s learning diary
Nursery software is a powerful tool to share a window into a child’s day at your nursery. It helps your parents/carers to celebrate along with their child. By having a child’s own personal diary, you can share pictures and videos of all your Valentine’s Day activities. You may even spark some inspiration for parents to try something similar at home. The parent can then stay in touch with your nursery by logging home observations to support nursery assessments in line with the EYFS framework.
Invite parents to Valentine’s Day-themed activities
Using your Parent App, your parents can stay in the know with nursery-wide events and parent workshops. Your setting may choose to run a stay-and-play style activity with the parents and their children. Your nursery software helps build strong parent-nursery relationships, as reminders can be sent to all parents with the click of a button, helping to promote the event and boost attendance numbers.
Share the menu in advance
Parents may want their child to be involved in the themed-day meal; use your nursery software to encourage parents to book their child in for a meal in advance by sharing the menu timetable via your software. The option to share menu meals in advance can be helpful for children who prefer a structured timetable, making your nursery setting more Autism-friendly.