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Make It: Handmade Valentines

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Making valentines is lots of fun. But it also teaches your child that it isn't enough just to feel love; there's also a joy in expressing it. "Children are receivers who get care, time, attention, and presents from adults. But sometimes they need to make something special for others," says Jill Fox, Ph.D., associate professor of early childhood education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

And when your crafty cupid makes valentines from mixed media, she gets the chance to develop a range of abilities. "Using crayons and glitter improves her fine-motor dexterity, which can help with writing, while cutting out hearts and placing them on a background helps with visual perception concepts like details and distance, which are important for learning how to read," Fox says.

Materials:

  • Large sheet of white or off-white paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife (for adult use only)
  • Cutting mat
  • Letter opener (optional)
  • Decorative colored or patterned papers or giftwrap
  • Safety scissors
  • White glue
  • Paints, crayons, and media such as glitter, pastel chalks,
    colored pens, and rhinestones

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To make the project:

1. Measure and cut two 7" by 10" pieces of white or off-white paper. Use a ruler and the back of the cutting knife or a letter opener to score a line centered between the 10" edges of each piece of paper. Fold both pieces in half to form a card.

2. On one folded sheet, measure and mark a 4" square centered on the fold. Use the craft knife and ruler to cut the top and bottom edges of this inner square and to score the side edges of the square. Press the square forward so its fold comes inward to create your pop-out.

3. Ask your child to cut out hearts from various colored or patterned papers as well as squares from contrasting papers. The hearts should be cut to fit within the squares. Invite her to glue the hearts to the squares. Your child may create one large heart on a large square, two or three smaller ones that can be fanned out, or four that may be placed in a grid. Glue the hearts on the front of the uncut folded sheet of white paper. Encourage her to embellish the heart with glitter, crayons, paints, and so forth, as desired.

4. Measure and cut a 4" square of colored paper to place over the pop-out of the other folded white sheet. Glue it in place, creasing the center. Have your child cut out another heart to fit within this square. Glue the heart in place, and embellish as desired.

5. Help your child write out a Valentine's Day message and sign her name. Apply glue along one side of the inner fold and along the outer edges of the cover card. Insert the inner card with the pop-out inside, aligning edges and pressing in place until dry.

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Copyright ? 2002. Reprinted with permission from the February 2002 issue of Child magazine.