[Amy from Sunlit Pages is back with a wonderful idea for a Valentine craft to go along with your holiday reading. I especially love how it reinforces family kindness and working together, something we've been working on around here, too.]
I love seasonal and holiday picture books, but I have not had the greatest luck with books for Valentine's Day. Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong ones, but I've found most of them to be fairly shallow and gimmicky. [Note from Erica: I totally agree!! Note: this post contains affiliate links.]
So when it comes to Valentine's Day, I tend to stick with books that focus on love and friendship but stay away from mention of the actual holiday.
Earlier this year, my boys and I discovered The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning, illus. Valeri Gorbachev, and although it has virtually nothing to do with Valentine's Day, it's exactly the kind of book I want to read in February.
It's about a little pig named Owen. His granny's birthday is coming up, and when his mom asks him what he wants to send to her, he says, "A GIANT hug." He doesn't mean a picture of a hug or XOXOs or a letter saying he wishes he could hug her. No, he means an actual, physical, real-live hug. And he wants to send it through the mail.
Although the postmaster, Mr. Nevin, admits that they "don't normally send hugs," he agrees to try. Thus begins a hug chain that stretches clear across the country--from postmaster to mail sorter to driver to deliverer. Each character opens his arms as wide as he can and passes along the giant hug. And, as you might expect, the act of receiving and giving the hug somehow seems to brighten everyone's day, even James', a porcupine who is "not the hugging type."
Reading this book will make you want to send a hug in the mail, but . . . as far as I know, that's against regulation. And yet, it just sounds so fun, so I pondered over how else you could send the feeling of a hug to a loved one.
And then I realized it wasn't necessarily the hug itself that was making everyone happy but the interaction with each other: the greeting, the talking, the physical closeness. It was knowing that someone else was paying attention to you.
My parents live far away, and my kids only get to see them a few times each year. My children would love to do something nice for their grandparents, but the distance between us makes it difficult. But even though they can't help my mom make her bed, they can help each other make their beds, and if I were a grandma, I'd like nothing better than just knowing that my grandchildren were being kind and loving to other people.
And that's when I thought of it--the perfect way to send a "hug" in the mail.
A few weeks before Valentine's Day, I gathered together our supplies:
- butcher paper
- a pencil
I took the butcher paper and cut a 4" x 24" strip of it. Then we folded it across three inches, flipped it over, folded it another three inches, etc. until we had a stack of about seven folds (like a little accordion).
We drew a person on the front, making sure the hands and feet extended to the folds. The good news is you don't have to be an amazing artist for this--you basically draw a stick person but just thicken it up a bit. 🙂
Then we cut it out, being carefully not to cut along the fold. (Because the butcher paper is thinner than regular printer paper, it wasn't too difficult to cut through so many layers.)
We stretched it out and could see the "hug" being passed from paper person to paper person. My kids took markers and gave a happy face to each person.
Now came the fun part. For a couple of weeks, we kept track of any good deeds the boys did. They could be as simple as letting someone go first when washing their hands or as difficult as giving up the last cookie (when you're three years old, that's tough). Then we wrote one good deed on each fold-out person.
We folded it all back up and tucked it into an envelope, along with this poem (composed by my husband):
I hope you don't mind this; I did acts of kindness
For people I love around here.
I wrote it all down, mailed my list out of town
As my Valentine's card this year.
It shows what I'd do to say "I love you"
If you were consistently near.
If you want to send some love through the mail, you are more than welcome to use the poem to accompany your own set of paper friends. If you don't want to do it for Valentine's Day, you can easily substitute "birthday present" or "Christmas present" for "Valentine's card." If you have older kids, they might find it fun to see how long of a hug chain they could make.
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day, brightening up the days of those you love, both near and far away.
More Valentine Fun:
- Valentine Books for Kids that Spread Love and Kisses
- Clever Valentine Cards: 1 template, infinite designs
- Super Easy Valentines for Your Preschool Friends
- Mobius Strip Hearts: A Valentine for Math Nerds
Amy is an avid reader and the mother of four rambunctious boys. Her life goal is to make them as obsessed with books as she is. (Judging from the dozens of books scattered all over her house, she has been successful so far.) She blogs at Sunlit Pages where she writes about a variety of books–from what she is currently reading to her kids’ favorite picture books.