Valentine’s Day may be associated with romance, but at Upbring we celebrate all kinds of love, especially the love of family. If you have kids in your life, February 14 can serve as a welcome reminder of your love and appreciation for each other.

Here are eight kid-friendly ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

1. Prepare a special breakfast. Children look forward to any and all holidays — and the excitement begins the moment they wake up. Start their day off right with a special themed breakfast. Make heart-shaped pancakes or waffles, or top their yogurt or oatmeal with red sprinkles.

Foster-friendly option: Ask the child what their favorite morning meal is, and prepare it for the entire family. This display of solidarity is a powerful way to show love. No matter what you serve up, always confirm any food allergies in advance.

2. Write love notes. Think of this as a more personal take on the Valentine’s Day cards your children may exchange at school. Each person can write a note to one other family member (“Secret Santa” style), or to everyone in the household. Children who are younger or who have limited verbal skills may appreciate some thought-starters, such as “Why do you love them?” or “What is your favorite memory with them?” If you want to keep the momentum going, write love notes for the other important people in their life, such as neighbors or teachers.

Foster-friendly option: Ask whether they would like to write a love note for their birth parent(s) or anyone else special to them. The note can be delivered at their next visit or via their case worker.

3. Get crafty. We’re big fans of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities for sparking kids’ curiosity. This holiday, we especially love making suncatchers with everyday household items. Start with a paper coffee filter and fold it in half. Cut out a symmetrical heart shape. Unfold the paper heart and color it with washable markers — pinks, reds, purples or whatever shade you wish. Spray the filters with a little water to create a watercolor effect, then let dry. Poke a hole in the top of each shape, hang them from a window with string and enjoy!

Foster-friendly option: Supervise your child with scissors until you get a sense of their fine motor skills. Also, let the child decide where in the house to hang their suncatcher, whether it’s their bedroom or a communal space.

4. Whip up a midday treat. With frosting, sprinkles or heart-shaped cookie cutters, you can give many sweets a “love”-ly makeover. Marshmallow rice treats and sugar cookies are two kid-friendly favorites.

Foster-friendly option: Your child might not have much experience with home-cooking and baking, so involve them in the decision-making process beforehand. Browse cookbooks or recipe sites together, then take them shopping for the ingredients. You’ll grant them some control over what they eat while learning more about their likes and dislikes. 

5. Fold origami. Older children might enjoy the challenge of making origami hearts, roses and mini gift boxes. All you need are colorful sheets of paper! Search online for step-by-step video tutorials.

Foster-friendly option: Origami can be calming and therapeutic while enhancing a child’s focus skills. Furthermore, tapping into their creativity can help boost self-esteem. Expand your family’s origami knowledge by making their favorite animal, flower or insect — the possibilities are endless!

6. Make a sensory bottle. Sensory bottles are a tool to help kids cope with stress, anger and other strong emotions. Start with a clean plastic bottle and fill it with water about three-quarters of the way full. Add food coloring to change the color of the water and themed glitter, beads, charms, buttons and other small items. A touch of dish soap or baby oil can make your sensory bottle even more interesting. Glue the cap on to prevent leaking, and voila!

Foster-friendly option: If sensory bottles aren’t a good fit, seek out additional sensory toys that help your child feel calm, from playdough to squeeze balls to sand gardens. Look up ways to create these items at home, for Valentine’s Day or “just because.”

7. Stage a fancy dinner. With kids it’s often easier to dine in than out — but you can still enjoy a special Valentine’s Day dinner! Set the table with your nicest tablecloth, napkins and dishes, plus a centerpiece bouquet. Bonus points if you can assemble an entirely red menu — think pizza or pasta with marinara sauce, with cherry tomatoes or red peppers on the side. And don’t forget fresh berries with whipped cream for dessert!

Foster-friendly option: As with our other meal suggestions, collaborate on the menu together. Serve it buffet-style so the child can sample foods that might be new to them. Again, this gives them more agency over the situation.

8. Dance to love songs. As bedtime gets closer, get their wiggles out with a living room dance party. Let them stand on your feet as you lead, or move it and groove it on their own! There is no shortage of songs about love, so let each person contribute to your family’s epic Valentine’s Day playlist.

Foster-friendly option: Children with a history of trauma may be sensitive to loud noises or touch. Let them dance on their own if they want and ask if the music volume is okay for them. Watch out for signs they are becoming overwhelmed with all the singing and dancing. You can always tone it down accordingly.

We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas for making this holiday a fun family affair. Can’t get enough STEAM activities? We have 22 more ideas for you here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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