Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Loose Parts Play with Buttons & Hearts {Valentine's Day Activity}

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Valentine's Day themed loose parts play activity with buttons and hearts.

Play doesn't need to be complicated.

You can simply give the kids some random bits to explore with and let them create and explore on their own terms. Which is exactly what this loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day is all about.

You'll see how two kids took the same materials from this Valentine's themed invitation to play and then played with them in their own unique ways.

Valentine's Day activity for toddlers and preschoolers using loose parts

Loose Parts Play for Valentine's Day: What You'll Need

This activity is a simple invitation to play. Here's what you'll need:

  • Picture frame
  • Pink and red buttons
  • Transparent hearts of various sizes (heart cookie cutters would make a great substitute)
The transparent hearts you see pictured were dollar store Valentine's Day mobiles that I cut apart to originally use on the light table.

Simple Valentine's themed loose parts play idea for toddlers and preschoolers

What's an Invitation to Play?

I get asked all the time why I use the word invitation and what it means.

Invitations to play simply refer to open-ended explorations for children.

I personally love invitations to play because it allows the boys to be creative in their own ways with no expectations or particular agenda in mind. I often end up surprised and amazed by what the boys choose to do with particular invitations. I also often get to see how different my boys' personalities truly are.

This activity is the perfect example of how two children can take the same materials and use them in two entirely different directions.

Valentine's Day activity and loose parts play

Loose Parts Play: The Preschooler's Approach...

J first placed one giant heart in the middle of the picture frame and then used the buttons to follow the picture frame.

Loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day

Next, J placed buttons around the outline of the heart.

Loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day

He then stacked some hearts and filled them with buttons.

Playing with loose parts - a Valentine's Day activity

Which lead to some beautiful creations.

Playing with loose parts - a Valentine's Day activity

Loose Parts Play: The Toddler's Approach...

When K woke up from his nap, which is a very rare moment in this house lately, he saw J's creations on the picture frame.  Since J was done with it, K was happy to explore it on his own terms, completely uninterrupted.  First, K needed to pick up the buttons.

Valentine's loose parts play for toddlers

And sometimes toddler arms aren't quite long enough, so it only makes sense to stretch out on the picture frame to pick up all those buttons.

Valentine's loose parts play for toddlers

After putting all the buttons back into their container, K dumped them out onto the picture frame.  What toddler doesn't enjoy dumping stuff out of containers?!

Loose parts Valentine's activity for toddlers

Then like a typical toddler, K got temporarily distracted by the empty container.  He just had to put it on his foot, which of course made him giggle like crazy.  

Loose parts Valentine's activity for toddlers

The empty container quickly lost its appeal though.  However, K spotted the transparent hearts, which lead to him making heart sunglasses.

Toddler exploring transparent hearts

Toddler exploring transparent hearts

Other Valentine's Day Activities You'll Love

Be sure to check out these other Valentine's Day activities from the Show Me the Love series:

A simple Valentine's Day loose parts play idea for toddlers and preschool kids