Play Based Learning: FUNctional Valentine’s Crafts

Immerse yourself in the world of play-based learning with this charming post, showcasing functional Valentine's crafts that not only spark creativity but also enhance developmental skills, offering a delightful blend of festive joy and educational engagement.

Now that the holidays are behind us and decorations are being taken down, our homes may look and feel a little empty. Why not fill up some of that empty space with some valentine’s crafts the entire family can enjoy! These crafts can be modified and made simpler or more challenging and can be done using a wide range of different materials to maximize creativity. Keep the following skills in mind as you navigate through the activities to create even more learning opportunities!

♥ Heart Sorting ♥

This activity can be done in several parts to teach sorting and size concepts, and to test their auditory comprehension skills. Additionally, you can help build their fine motor skills by having them first draw or trace out a heart and then practice cutting them.


  • Paper (colored or plain)
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers
  • 2 bins (optional)

For this activity, you can choose where you would like to start. You can start by giving your child a piece of paper and either model folding or tell them to fold the paper in half. Then, have them trace or draw half of a heart along the folded edge of the paper. You can then have your child try to cut out the heart along the line they just drew or you can cut it for them. For children that struggle with their fine motor skills, manipulating a scissor to cut along a curved line can potentially cause frustration. It is important to make this activity an enjoyable one so it is advised to encourage your child to ask for help to prevent or reduce frustration. Once the paper is cut, your child can unfold the paper to reveal the full heart! Repeat these steps until you have your desired number of both big and small hearts.

Now comes the super fun part! Have your child use crayons or markers to decorate the hearts any way they like. Keep in mind that these hearts can be used decorate your home once the activity is completed so be creative! For the next part of the activity you can either use two bins (one small and one large) to sort the hearts into or just have your child create two piles when sorting. If size concepts and sorting is new to your child I would recommend using starters by placing one big heart in a bin or pile and one small heart in the other before having them sort the hearts. As they are sorting try to incorporate language by having them say “big,” or, “small,” or try using a full sentence. You can also say, “show me a small red heart,” or, “give me the large striped heart,” to test their auditory comprehension skills. For added fun you can try creating hearts from play doh, clay, pipe cleaners, etc.

♥ Candy Cane Cards ♥

This activity is great for those with left over candy canes from the holidays! In particular it focuses on strengthening your child’s fine motor skills by having them practice their pincer grasp (index finger and thumb) by manipulating a pencil or crayon.


  • Paper (colored or plain)
  • 2 candy canes
  • Pencil 
  • Markers or crayons
  • Glue or tape

For this activity, have your child first fold a piece of paper in half vertically. Then, have them write, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” or a similar phrase on the front of the card. This may require helping them spell the words or providing them with a visual cue. A visual cue is simply a visual aid that helps them complete a task. An example of this would be writing out the words lightly and having your child trace over them or writing out the words using dots and having them connect the dots to spell out the word. Then, using two candy canes, ask your child to form a heart and have them either glue or tape it to the card. The next part is where your child can really get creative! Now that the front of the card is decorated they can decorate the inside of the card. Whether they choose to practice writing more words, use crayons and markers to draw pictures, or both, they are strengthening their fine motor skills by using their pincer grasp to manipulate the pencil, crayon, marker, etc.

♥ Functional skills that these fun activities teach ♥

  • Attending: paying attention to the instructions
    • Ask child to repeat instructions
  • Eye Contact: requiring eye contact before giving instructions and/or materials
    • Calling their name and waiting for eye contact, then immediately providing reinforcement (praise, materials, etc.)
  • Fine Motor Skills: 
    • Using a pencil to draw a heart or write words
    • Using crayons or markers to decorate hearts and/or card
    • Practice manipulating these tools in the correct form (using pincer grasp rather than wrapping all four fingers around the crayon/marker)
    • Manipulating a scissor to cut out the hearts
  • Multi-step directions:
    • “Put the red heart in the bin, THEN put a striped heart in the bin”
    • “Sort a large heart, THEN sort a small heart”
      • These examples test auditory comprehension skills
  • Expressive Identification (of colors, patterns, etc.): Picking a specific heart from an array of all of the decorated hearts and asking:
    • “What color is this?”
    • “What pattern is this?”
  • Receptive Identification (of colors, patterns, etc.): Presenting an array of all of the decorated hearts and asking:
    • “Point to the heart with stripes”
    • “Which heart is pink?”
      • **To make this more challenging you can make additional statements such as:
        • “Show the heart that is NOT red”
          • This example teaches critical thinking skills
        • “Give me the heart that is small AND has polka dots”
          • This example requires the child to combine concepts
  • Size Concepts: incorporating questions/statements such as:
    • “Which heart is smaller?”
    • “Why does this heart go in this bin?”
    • “Show me the bigger heart.”
    • “Put the hearts in order from smallest to biggest”

The ultimate goal is to get creative and have fun all while building functional skills!

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