Have you taken your little one to a public library yet?! I certainly understand if you haven’t. When you have an infant that can begin screaming without warning or a toddler that will likely run from you, stand in chairs, shout or fall and bust their lip (personal experiences) tagging along with you, it can be intimidating. At least it was for me. I’ve finally gotten over my shyness of going to libraries with my unpredictable son. I’m glad I have because it’s a great place to take him. It’s an awesome sensory experience. I see moms of multiples rocking it in libraries all the time. Libraries are actually very welcoming and accommodating to little people. Most of them offer fun, educational and free activities for kiddos of all ages with lots of different days and times to choose from. They typically have nice kiddo friendly reading areas that are appropriate for all ages.
We started going to baby story time at the library when my son was 6 months old (our first visit was nerve-racking but fun) and now we’ve graduated to toddler story time. Toddler story time is really quite comical. After story time, I’ve just started engaging my son in picking out board books and putting them in his “library bag” to check out. He doesn’t fully get it just yet, but the foundation is being laid and that’s what is important! He’s also learning how we do and do not behave in a quiet, respectable setting. This is a tough lesson for a toddler to learn, no doubt. But in the long run, it’s well worth it. We want babies, books and libraries to be friends and starting early helps to build positive relationships. That being said, what about those valentines?!?!
I credit my hometown’s county library system for this idea AND it’s a GOOD one! Wake County Public Libraries have collaborated with the Durham VA Medical Center to deliver Valentines to Veterans in time for Valentine’s Day. When I took my little man to the library for story time, they had a table set up for kiddos to make Valentines for Veterans. Just seeing this warmed my heart. What an awesome and thoughtful activity for all involved?! I had the privilege of working with many Veterans during my time providing speech-language-swallowing services in skilled nursing and assisted living homes. Seeing their faces light up when receiving simple items that show care and love and when having visitors is priceless! So I thought, how can I involve my baby boy?! I got nervous at the thought of him at the valentines making table. There was no way that would end well. I asked the librarian if we could make valentines at home and bring them in and they said of course. So that’s what we did. Here’s what we’ve been working on.
Materials: 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper, fingerpaint, markers, stickers
I already had finger paints and paper. I bought a book of valentines stickers for $1 from Target’s dollar section. It always gets me! First, I folded the paper in half the long way. I like to call this the “hotdog” fold. I cut the paper along the fold using my beloved paper-cutter. Next, I folded the paper in half the short way, what I call the “hamburger” fold. Then, we got messy dipping hands and feet in paint and stamping the paper. For the footprint hearts, I found it best to print one foot and let it dry before doing the other foot to complete the heart. Once the paint dried, I wrote a valentines message inside the cards and helped my son add stickers. He enjoyed placing the stickers and was so cute saying “ticker.” One dollar and some special bonding time with my son is all this activity cost me. And, there’s nothing better than a hand (foot) made valentine!
We also made some for our friends and family.
A few lessons learned…
- When it comes to hand/foot prints, less paint is more
- Diaper only baby is best
- Have a clear path to a sink for washing painted hands and feet
- Tackle this project in stages
- Let your little one place the stickers before you write the message inside the card
I just LOVE everything about this activity. I was able to get my little dude messy with some fun, sensory finger paint play and hopefully our valentines will put a smile on well-deserving faces. If you live in or near Wake County, NC, I encourage you to take your little ones into any county public library between now and Feb. 5, 2017, where you can make or drop off Valentines for Veterans. Don’t forget to read a few books while you’re there…check out some Valentine’s Books. If you don’t have this opportunity, make some valentines to share with a nursing facility, your local community helpers or send snail mail to your friends and family. These valentines turned out so cute. They are bound to make the receiver happy and happiness is contagious! Give them a go and let me know what you think. Have you done anything fun with hand or footprints?! Please share!
Peace & Love,