It’s no secret that preschoolers will love these adorable Valentine’s Centers. The best part is that they are not just adorable. These centers provide a valuable opportunity for young children to practice fine motor, language, and cognitive skills.
Valentine’s Centers – Sensory Table
Mix up a big batch of Valentine’s rice for the sensory table. It’s simple, inexpensive, and quick. When the students are done playing with it, store the rice in an airtight container and reuse it another time.
- First, add white rice to a zip-top plastic baggie.
- Next, squirt in some liquid watercolors. Choose Valentine’s colors (purple, pink, magenta, red).
- Shake the bag to coat the rice thoroughly.
- Finally, spread the rice out to dry. (It will be dry within a few hours.)
Scoop, Fill and Pour
It is essential to remember to give students time to simply play and explore a new sensory bin filler when it is first introduced. First, they need the chance to feel it, discovering its texture, weight, and properties. Students need the opportunity to experiment with how it sounds and how it looks. They need to explore it by itself for a while before expecting them to do other things in the sensory table!
After some independent exploration, add simple materials like dry, empty water bottles, small scoops, and cups. Students will then practice their hand-eye coordination by filling and pouring out the bottles. These full bottles also provide some “heavy work” for busy kids.
For a fancier set-up, add heart-shaped bowls, silicone cups in heart shapes, small plastic hearts, and matching scoops or tongs. (Everything in the picture was purchased at Hobby Lobby. The plastic hearts are also readily available at Dollar Tree.)
Offer some extra fine-motor grasp practice with this sensory table center. Add pom-poms in different sizes and Valentine’s colors. Provide ice cube trays (these are silicone trays from Hobby Lobby) and small tongs. The students can fill the trays by placing one pom-pom in each compartment.
Heal my Broken Heart
This math center has the kiddos counting hearts and matching them to the correct numeral. When the match is correct, the heart is whole again! (This is one of the printable centers included in the Love Unit.) After printing these hearts and cutting them apart, add a little piece of magnet tape onto each one’s back. Draw six hearts onto a cookie sheet and place them in the sensory table. When the students dig and find the matching pieces, they can put them together onto the cookie sheet.
Valentine Cloud Clay
Preschoolers describe this cloud clay as “playing with cotton candy”! It rolls flat and molds like playdough or clay. But it is light and soft like powder: such a fun and unique sensory experience for students. (Cloud clay is available HERE from Discount School Supply.)
Valentine’s Centers – Math
Light Table Counting
Practice counting sets of little hearts with this homemade center. Just take heart cut-outs (these are foam, from a craft store Valentine’s project) and write a number on each one. Add transparent hearts (available at Dollar Tree and most craft stores) and invite students to count each one’s matching number.
Give each child a piece of contact paper. Use masking tape to adhere it to the art table– sticky side up! Students stick pink or red construction paper, tissue paper, or confetti pieces to the contact paper. When they’re done, place another piece of contact paper on the top to sandwich the pieces in. Cut the art into a heart shape, add a ribbon, and display near the window.
Set up a tic-tac-toe board by creating a 3×3 grid with cute washi tape. Provide acrylic hearts in 2 colors (or two different mini erasers, etc.). Students take turns trying to achieve three in a row.
Preschoolers will love working on simple patterns. At this center, they find the hug or kiss to continue the pattern. (This printable center is included in the Valentine’s Day Preschool Unit.)
Light Table Patterns
Use transparent heart shapes to make simple patterns on the light table. Print the patterns on plain copy paper or on old-fashioned transparency sheets. (Free printable HERE.)
Heart Sticker Shapes Valentine’s Center
Peeling stickers off and applying them to a paper is a great fine motor practice for young children. It helps them when it’s time to open food packages, band-aid wrappers, and more. Print the shape pages HERE for free.
Valentine’s Number Mats
Practice recognizing numbers, subitizing, counting, and sorting with these Valentine’s Number Mats. Give each child two mats, the eight sorting pieces that go with them, and a small cup of mini-erasers or counting pieces. To play, they choose a sorting piece, identify the number that is represented, and place it onto the correct number mat.
Special Delivery Bulletin Board
This vertical interactive bulletin board gives children another opportunity to practice number identification, subitizing, counting, and sorting while also encouraging them to work together. (Social skills are so critical, aren’t they?!) See more pictures of interactive boards HERE and print the pieces for yourself HERE.
Valentine’s Centers – Literacy
Make writing more enticing by offering seasonal writing trays. (These little pink trays are from the Target Dollar spot.) Print the heart letters and laminate. Fill a shallow tray with red, pink, or white sand. Students can use their fingers, Valentine’s pencil, or a special heart-topped stirrer to copy each letter into the sand.
Print 10 sets of seasonal letter cards to use with your writing trays all year long:
How many hearts can you hold? Count the hearts on each square and find the matching number. It works great as a folder game! (This printable center is included in the Valentine’s Day Preschool Unit.)
Flower or Heart?
Here is another beginning sound sort. To play, the students say the word pictured on the card. If it starts with F, it goes on the F side of the folder. If it starts with H, it goes on the H side. (This printable center is included in the Valentine’s Day Preschool Unit.)
“What is Pink?” Book
Emergent readers (ages 4-6 years) need lots of practice reading predictable, repeating text. The goal for them is not to sound out the words. Rather, the goal is to practice pointing to each word and matching their voice to print. It is okay and expected that they will have the story memorized. They will need to use the pictures to help read it, and the teacher can read the page for them and ask them to read it back. These are all ways that emergent readers develop their Concept of Word.
This simple book, “What is Pink?” has repeating text that says: Can you see my pink shirt? Can you see my pink bike? Can you see my pink hat? Can you see my pink shell? Can you see my pink rose? For some added fun, give each child a google eye ring. Call it a Valentine’s monster. Have them place it on their reading finger as they point to each word. It helps draw attention to the words and makes it more fun to practice this emergent reading skill.
Valentine’s Centers – Fine Motor
Children love to do centers that they can wear and take home! These bracelets are simple: red, pink, and white pony beads with some special heart-shaped beads mixed in. The students string the beads to make a bracelet.
Finish by tying it onto their wrists and let them take it home. This center is a definite crowd-pleaser with boys and girls alike.
Valentine’s Day Ribbon Weaving
Weaving is a complex skill that involves fine motor finger isolation, bi-lateral hand coordination, and patterning (up-down-up-down).
All of the supplies for this weaving center are from the dollar store:
- White grids are dish-draining mats. (If these are not available, a cookie cooling rack or the side of a plastic basket would also work.)
- Inexpensive, seasonal ribbons cut to match the length of the draining mats.
Valentine’s Heart Painting
Students can practice their concentration and motor skills with this simple, beautiful heart painting project. Print the heart templates for free HERE.
Valentine’s Day Circle Time Unit
All of these centers, plus a week of Circle Time activities, art ideas, playdough mats, and more are included in this Valentine’s Day Unit for Preschoolers.
Valentine’s Day Books
Here are so many lovely books to read to your preschoolers on Valentine’s Day: