Valentine’s Day Tree

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Why should Christmas have all the countdown/advent calendar fun? Consider this little tree a neat way to share the love as you mark off the days from February 1st to the 14th!

First, you’ll need to select several branches from outside, and place them in any pretty vase you have in your home.

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Ahead of time, I traced and cut out 14 hearts from patterned paper. Pinks and reds were a natural choice for background color.

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Next, I numbered the hearts 1 through 14. This helps add a little math element to the project, with Travis selecting the right numbered heart each day we add it to the tree.

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Travis was so excited because to finish the set up, we needed two grown-up tools that he adores (under careful supervision of course): the stapler and the hole punch.

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First, we stapled a strip of pink construction paper to each heart.

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Next, we punched a hole in the top corner of each heart.

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We added little heart stickers to each one as a finishing touch. Feel free to decorate your hearts however you like! Cute pink or red buttons glued on would also be pretty.

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Each morning starting February 1, have your child name someone they love or care about. Write the name on the strip of paper, slip a piece of thread through the hole in the heart, and hang from the tree.

Here’s the tree about halfway completed:

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And here is our finished tree on the 14th!

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Dinner Table Conversation Jar

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I’ll be honest; we’re not always the model family when it comes to sitting down together for dinner, despite research about this healthy practice. Typically Travis eats early, and my husband and I eat later. So I loved the idea of this game when I came across it, as a reminder to all sit and be present together. But honestly, the game works whether you’re gathered around a dinner table or if you make it a part of your bedtime routine. One way or another, it’s a great way to get kids talking!

First, I invited Travis to help me decorate the glass jar that would hold our topics.

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The thrill of scribbling all over a glass surface with permanent marker was pretty grand in and of itself! Travis made a vibrant purple…

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…and I also colored in a jar we could use, in case the first was ever too full.

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To make your conversation starters, write out simple questions on popsicle sticks.

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Our initial list of questions included:

Favorite teacher? Why?

Exciting news to share…?

What are you proud of?

Best friend?

3 Words to describe your day?

Favorite part of recess?

Favorite movie? Why?

Favorite song? Why?

The intention is to add sticks as time goes on, so the game keeps evolving with our family!

I loved how much Travis loved this game.

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My initial thought was to have each family member draw one question, but he was having so much fun that he made us go through every stick! His answers were charming and enlightening; some that I was sure I knew the answer to, he surprised me, and he thought really hard about some of the more open-ended ones.

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We can’t wait to play this for many nights to come.

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Cotton Swab Snowflake Craft

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I’ve never been a fan of cut-paper snowflakes as a craft. Quite frankly, I’m no good at it, and mine end up looking like circles with a few holes in them, instead of lacy flakes! But with pretty sparkling snowflakes outside our window, we wanted some indoor craft to bring the snow inside, and this cotton swab version was much easier to pull off.

To be honest, Travis was a little young for it. Older kids may be much more into shaping and designing their six-pointed flakes, and can really get creative with the process. As to Travis, he still had lots of fun, just in his own preschool way…

…starting with ferrying the cotton swabs over to me by “forklift.” Shipment received.

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He thought it was fascinating to watch me clip the cotton swabs in half (which, fyi, is not easy to do, the stems are tough; adults may want to help even older children with this step).

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Next I showed him how to arrange the cotton swabs into six-pointed shapes like snowflakes.

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We adhered ours to circles cut from blue constructions paper, but if you prefer, glue them together over wax paper and lift them off the wax paper once the glue has dried.

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Travis set about adding lots of glue and cotton swabs to his “snowflakes.” I loved watching his creative process, including smearing on the glue with a cotton swab at one point.

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As mentioned, older kids may want to create increasingly complex designs, and can cut the swabs into even tinier components.

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After the glue dried, we hung the snowflakes in the window.

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What beautiful flakes falling down!

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