Valentine’s Day sensory bin

Last year we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but used the opportunity to do a lot of fun crafts and activities with the symbols of Valentine’s day, like hearts, candies, chocolates etc.

This year I’ve come up with a sensory bin idea for this occasion.

What I used:

  • one big container (IKEA)
  • coloured rice – red, purple, and white (see how to make it below)
  • hearts, candies, feather, beads (whatever you have) to search for in the bin hidden in the rice
  • cups and bowls
  • tools like ladle, tongs, tweezers (I couldn’t find the tweezers 😦 )
How I coloured the rice:
You need:
  • a zip lock bag (IKEA)
  • 2 cups of rice (any kind of white rice will do)
  • food colouring (liquid type is better than the gel)
  • a bit of alcohol (optional)
How to do it:
Put 2 cups of rice in the zip lock bag, add 1 teaspoonful of red (or any other colour) food colouring and half a teaspoonful of alcohol. The latter is optional. It helps to get brighter colours plus your rice will last long if not forever…
Now give it a shake until the colour is everywhere on the rice. (I didn’t but you can do it with your child. It must be fun for them to see how the rice changes colour)
I did the same with the purple rice. As I didn’t have purple food colouring I mixed it out of red and blue beforehand.
I dried the rice on baking paper to make sure it won’t stain my hand and to get rid of the smell of alcohol.
I put the rice in the container (half red, half purple – my daughter did the mixing) and I also provided some white rice for extra fun.

What I put in the bin:

  1.  wooden muffin
  2. purple butterfly beads
  3. sparkly candies (cut out of a foam sheet but you can add real candy, too)
  4. red jingle bells
  5. wooden hearts
  6. pegs with hearts on
  7. purple pompoms
  8. pink flower-shaped beads
  9.  red feathers
  10. felt hearts
I hid them in the rice as much as I could.
Extras: I cut out 6 hearts and wrote the letters of my daughter’s name on them. I also put them in the bin so she can make her name when she finds them. (The easiest way to make the foam hearts is to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I pressed it on the foam sheet and cut along the print it made.)

E. was pretty excited about the bin as soon as she saw it.

She poured in the extra white rice.

She happily used the ladle and the tongs.

She used the bowls to put in whatever she found. (It was interesting to see that she separated them like hearts, round things like pompoms, bells, and beads all by herself)

She also enjoyed mixing the coloured rice with her hands.

After she’d found and taken out everything she asked Daddy to find what she’d hidden. Then they took turns and did the same again and again.

The next day I gave her 2 sheets with the objects she can find in the bin on the top and she selected them in each column. We did a little counting as well.

On the second day I also added the letter of “I LOVE YOU”
With a little help she could put it together.

She’s been playing with it ever since.
-Mommy, we can play with it on the floor, too – she said and continued down there.

TWO other activities to do with the rice:

  1. write with fingers
  2. I spy bottle

What are these? Come back later to check them out. I’ll show them to you in another post.


We do NOT celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway

February has arrived and Valentine’s Day is only 2 days away. In Hungary people didn’t celebrate it for a long time but nowadays it has become very popular. The only reason we deal with it at all is that E. can see a lot of shop windows where Valentine’s Day decorations are displayed and she is asking questions.

I’ve found some fun and useful activities online which have the symbols of this special occasion (hearts, roses, candies etc.) but the main focus is on something more educational.

In the last couple of days we’ve been working on these:

Valentine Patterns (from

I downloaded the Valentine Patterns (freebie) and we cut them out together. This was the first time E. had been cutting properly, holding the scissors in the right way and actually cutting. What a breakthrough! I drew a smiley on her right hand thumb and she kept telling herself: 

– Smiley up and I can cut.

Then we sat down to finish the patterns.

Cracked heart and broken heart

She had no problems with the ABABAB patterns

Sweets or poops?

ABBABBABB was a little more difficult

Little and big hearts

ABCABC patters were challenging

But she got the hang of it by the end

Zig-zag, stripy and spotty hearts

Number heart match (numbers)

I’m getting more and more fascinated by a blog I’ve found recently. At Welcome to Mommyhood you can read about healthy foods, recipes for kids and toddler activities like the Valentine’s Day number matching. This activity is more about numbers than about Valentine’s Day.

I downloaded the printable, laminated and cut the hearts out. E. liked it a lot, though she missed the zero.

I gave her all the numbers from 1 to 20 as she is an “expert” at numbers, but if you are just getting to know the numbers, first give your child the numbers from 1-9 and later the bigger numbers. 19 and 20 were on a separate sheet, but we solved this problem easily. We just put them next to 18 🙂

Look at her face 🙂



Heart colour gradients (from Welcome to Mommyhood)

E. knows her colours well but I haven’t done an activity like this before. I found the heart colour gradient printable (free!) at Welcome to Mommyhood and I thought we’ll give it a try. As this was the first time we’d done it I gave her only 3 shades then 4, but not all the six.

We also played a memory game. We turned up 2 cards at a time and we needed to name which one is dark or light (I used the darkest and the lightest colours.)



We really need to practise it more. It was a hard task, though she enjoyed it. (No photos of the memory game… sorry)

My Funny Valentine (art)

Super Simple Learning offers you a free printable Valentine’s Day craft. You can make your own funny Valentine out of eyes, noses and mouths. A great number of other Valentine’s Day activities are available there, like colouring, action songs, connect the dots activities etc.

I picked My Funny Valentine as we could talk about body parts and colours, and we could use the glue for sticking. E. loves them all.

Here is the activity step by step:


1. Paint/colour the hearts (so they’ll dry until you get to the sticking part)

2. Colour the body parts

3. Mommy (or bigger kids themselves) can cut out the body parts


4. Use glue to stick the body parts on you heart(s)
5. Display it somewhere you and your child can rejoice at the final result

Extras: You can draw ears or hats/tiaras/crowns or add some presents in the other hand. You can also add a speech bubble and write in what your message is for your loved one. We didn’t do any of them as the activity was long enough for E. and she wanted to stick them on the door as soon as she finished with her hearts.

Button heart (art)

We are in the gluing phase. No matter what we glue it’s fun. So I drew 3 hearts on a sheet of paper and put some colourful buttons (that I found in my treasure box) in a bowl, plus the glue and a fun could start.

As we were doing some patterns I started the big heart with blue and white buttons and E. finished it.


Unfortunately we didn’t have enough buttons of the same colours so we needed to change the patter in the case of the smaller hearts.

E. had no patience to make more hearts so we stopped the activity. But the next day she asked me to do something with the other 3 hearts. I just threw some confetti, beads and leftover craft stuff in a bowl and give it to her to stick. I had 10-12 minutes of freedom.



Although we signed Valentine’s Day in our calendar we won’t celebrate it (no presents, no flowers, no chocolate etc.). It’s not our holiday…

Anyways, happy Valentine’s Day!