Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 75
February 12, 2007

Hello magical you! 

I hope February is being good to you.  It's been rather nippy in our part of the world!  We're all a little stir crazy but I keep telling myself that we have to have the miserable cold to truly appreciate the wonderful warm when spring comes.  :)  I'm burning the midnight oil tonight to get this out in time for Valentine's Day so I'll quit yapping and get on with it....


Valentine's Day:  theme by theme....
Here's ways to work the holiday into every subject.


This site has instructions on how to make a beautiful little
heart shaped scrapbook from garbage bags, card stock and embellishments.  This craft can be made by older children or moms can premake the books for little ones to decorate.

Use painted hearts to teach about symmetry.  Fold pieces of paper in half and show the kids how to draw a half heart shape, cut it out and unfold it to form a heart.  Give them some small dishes of tempera paint and ask them to drop various blobs of it on the inside of the heart, then fold it shut again.  When they open it up again, they'll have a pattern that is symmetrical -- the same on both sides.  Talk about what else is symmetrical -- some shapes, our bodies, lots of trees.... and then ask them to find examples of things that are and  are not symmetrical around the house or in magazines.

Cooking/Home Ec:

Make festive ice cubes by filling ice trays with water and then dropping in red hots, raspberries or other red goodies.

Kids can make easy Valentines biscuits by reshaping canned biscuits into heart shapes with their fingers before baking.  Alternately, you can make homemade biscuits and cut them out with a heart shaped cookie cutter.


Chocolate Chip math.  My girls have loved this after dinner treat for years.  I get a little pile of chocolate chips and just take turns asking them math questions.  Each one they get right earns them a chocolate chip.  You could use Valentine's candies as well.

Use M&M's to make a graph.  Have the kids poll friends and family about their favorite colors.  Ask lots of people and write down the totals for each color.  Then lay out the M&M's on a piece of paper to represent how many people liked each color.  You may have to use dimes to represent "other" since some people will pick colors that aren't in standard M&M packs, like pink and purple (or see if you can find an Easter pack, since those generally have pastels).   Eat the results!


Valentines Science-- Buy some white carnations and put them in a glass of water with some red food coloring.  Watch what happens and talk to the kids about what's going on.

If you live in a warmer climate that still has insect activity  outside, do some nature studies.  Have the kids leave several types of  Valentines candy outside in an area where they've seen ants.  Also leave a few natural sweets like fruit, and protein like small bits of  nut.  Have the kids watch to see if the ants have a preference for what they choose to try to carry off.  Talk about why they might choose one type of food over another.  Leave some seeds in the area and watch to see if birds will visit and take any of the types of  food.  Did they pick different treats?


This page has ideas for homemade Valentines fruit jigglers, crafts and more:

You can find lots of crafts and activities for Valentines Day here:
(some pages may require membership but there are lots of free ideas)

Here's a neat page of learning ideas related to this tasty holiday.  You can find a list of chocolate related books and movies, play "You ate my chocolate bar!" (a variation of Battleship), explore links about things like how chocolate is made and where it's grown, do a taste test of different kinds of chocolate and more.

And here's lots of great ideas for Valentines Day fun for preschoolers:


Magical Mama Neve shared this Valentine's idea...

"I went to a Crayola presentation today...done by a rep. She had a cute simple easy valentine.  She bought the rolled up paper that you'd put in a calculator that prints from Home Depot.  You measure either the length (height) of yourself or your arms spread out (which evidently is your height).  Then cut the paper so the paper is the length of the kiddo (or represents the length of your arms stretched out to hug). You then decorate the white paper with cut out hearts, glitter etc... whatever you want.  I decorated mine at the ends with construction paper with one of my hand cut outs on one end, one on the other.  I also accordion folded my long white paper (5 feet 2) and cut out little hearts.

Anyway when the person opens it up they automatically open up their arms as if needing a other words it is a HUG that you send...and then the recipient gets a hug.

It was cute, simple, the youngest kiddos could do it...and it captures height, in my case hand size etc...."

Sounds fun!  Thanks Neve!


It's back!  The Great Backyard Bird Count!
We participated in this fun and educational activity last year and we all really enjoyed it.  From February 16-19, people log how many birds they see in a certain spot over a short period of time.  Help scientists, help the birds, and be part of something taking part all over the United States and Canada.  The site also has coloring pages about birds, information, slide shows and contests.

Overheard online....
Here's a great idea for teachers, day care workers and others who work with kids and need a lift:

"I made a "Code Blue" Folder where I keep things that make me smile:  nice notes from parents, particularly nice pictures from kids, etc.  This way you can take it out and it makes you feel better anytime you need it!"

(Original author unknown)

This is also a good reminder to thank those who are doing a good job with our kiddos!


Magical Mama Janina shared this site that lists recommended books for preschoolers by themes like "nap time and bedtime" and "science and nature."  She writes:

"A lot of these books we love and read often, but there are some new ones on here for me, and I like how they are organized, but loosely.  Enjoy!"

Thanks Janina!


The National Gallery of Victoria has a wonderful list of 10 activities for young children to do while visiting their gallery.  The ideas could be used for any art gallery and include ideas like:

~ Going on a treasure hunt for art objects that are gold, funny or very old;
~ Finding a painting the child really likes and coming up with her own name for it;
~ Copying the face of a person in a painting they like and
~ Finding artwork that makes them laugh or feel sad.

See the whole list here:


Speaking of masterpieces, this site has crayon-by-number pages for famous works of art.  Fun!


A few fun crafts we've been doing....

You know I'm a big believer in crafts that take almost no advance prep, special supplies or adult intervention.  Here's some stuff the kids have been doing around here that fit the bill.

What crafts have you been up to?  If you have any neat ideas to share, send them in and I'll pass them on in the newsletter.


Ten Ways to Make Today Magical...

1.  Make a Valentine's gingerbread house with graham crackers and white frosting for glue (for an easy homemade version just beat powdered sugar with enough shortening to make it spreading consistency).  Decorate the house with candy hearts, red hots, kisses and other candy treats.

2.  Play "Catch It!".  First, get a bowl of pennies, marbles or other little objects you can use as counters.  Put in a family movie or watch a favorite TV show and agree ahead of time on what word will be the secret word.  It should be one that will be said fairly often like the name of a character.  As you watch the movie, shout "Catch it!" every time someone says the secret word.  The first person to shout "Catch it!" gets a counter.  If more than one person shout it at exactly the same time, all the players who shouted it get one counter.  At the end of the movie, the person with the most counters wins a silly prize (like getting to wear a goofy hat for the rest of the night).

3.  Make a batch of cupcakes and frost them.  Then set out all different little toppings (berries, coconut, candies, chocolate chips, etc.) and let the kids decorate them all to make individual masterpieces.

4.  Get out your child's baby book or scrapbook and go through it with him.  Talk about what he was like as a baby and what your favorite memories are.  Even teenagers secretly love to hear this stuff!

5.  Go on a leisurely drive and make up stories about who lives in the houses you pass.  Make up awards and pick the winners for each street, like most creative yard and best color.  Pick your favorite for each area and the one you like the least.

6.  Call a local retirement community and ask if  your kids can take on an art project like decorating an area of a hall each month, handing out cards to residents or helping out with scheduled craft activities.  The residents usually love the chance to see children and happily display their art, and the kids get doted on by friendly and fascinating elders.  If your kids are older or not into crafts, see if there's another area of interest where they can participate.  Many communities have activities from billiards to gardening where they could use a hand.  You can get hesitant teens into it by pointing out it will look great on a transcript!

7.  Start a tradition of picking up one brand new food every week at the grocery store.  Let the kids take turns picking out the food, which can be anything from an ethnic drink (Who's brave enough to try "Grass Jelly Drink" from Vietnam?  It has chunks of real grass in jelly!!!) to an exotic fruit.  Make sure it's strictly voluntary to try the items and make it fun.

8.  Play the gratitude letter game to pass time driving or waiting together.  Pick a letter and then go back and forth naming things you're grateful for that start with that letter.  Teens and adults can have a minimum number of syllables (like words of 3 or more syllables) to keep it challenging with younger players.  The words can be anything at all that you're glad to have in your life, from artichokes to Aunt Julie.

9.  Do silly makeovers on each other.

10. Start a thank you book.  Each day write down one thing for your child that you're thankful for.  It can be tangible things like helping her sister with homework or sentimental things like having such a contagious laugh.  Keep it in her room so she can read it at the end of each day.


And with that, my dears, I'm off. 

Hug your kiddos, count your blessings, and don't forget to take care of you!

Till next time,


A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2006, Alicia Bayer

A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and those who love them.  To subscribe, send a message to or  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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