Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler: Valentine's Day Unit - What is Love?

Updated: Sep 27

A Companion to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum


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We've been using Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool for our homeschool preschool curriculum again this year, but I thought we would take a week off for Valentine's Day to pair some bookish play with some of the activities on Busy Toddler's website. If you've enjoyed my other Holiday Units, I think you'll love this one too.


I shared a #sundayshelfie of books about love and Valentine's Day over on my Instagram last weekend. I had begun work on this blog post and shared how writing this unit has caused me to explore the concept of love: how it’s something we feel, share, show and celebrate. But it's also forced me to try to define it in a way a preschooler can vaguely comprehend. Which led me down the path of how love is unconditional and infinite and then I was struggling to wrap my head around it.


So I did what I always do: I look for books to help me convey abstract ideas to my preschooler. And I found some really good ones about love and Valentine’s Day in general (click here for the full list). But then it dawned on me that the Bible spells it out pretty clearly in what is known as the "love chapter":

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” - ‭‭1 Corinthians ‭13:4-8

I thought the first sentence was a good place to start and simple enough for a preschooler to understand (though I would explain that envy = jealousy, boasting = bragging and proud = thinking you are better than others, at least in this context) so I chose this as the Bible verse, but as usual I've provided non-religious alternatives for the poem and song.


Even with the Bible's definition, love is a very abstract and complicated thing. There are so many types of love. Sometimes it is romantic and sometimes it is platonic. Sometimes it describes a deep emotion and sometimes it describes a favorite food. Sometimes it is a verb and sometimes it is noun. Sometimes it is a feeling and sometimes it is a choice. I think you see my point...


To keep things simple, my focus for this unit is on love between family members, since this is what children can relate to best, but Christians will be able to draw parallels to God's love for His children. Of course, one is imperfect and the other is divine, but it's a starting point. My goal is to introduce children to different aspects of love and the vocabulary around it.



Author's Note: I recognize that holidays are celebrated in many different ways. I have made every effort to make this unit inclusive and adaptable to individual preferences for how ever your family chooses to celebrate. There are religious and non-religious book suggestions and modifications can easily be made.


A Vague History

In our modern times, Valentine's Day is known as a day to celebrate love. Its origins, however, are far more dark and rather vague. In the third century, two men were executed on February 14th of different years, both named Valentine and later sainted for their martyrdom by the Catholic church. Although there are different versions of the story, one of them was a priest who wrote letters from prison and signed them from "Your Valentine", which is considered the very first valentine and came to be associated with a message of love. (There was also a Roman festival of fertility that coincided with this date... but we won't go into that.)


So whether you view Valentine's Day as a holiday made up to sell greeting cards and chocolate or you are interested in the historical nature of the holiday, I think we can all agree that what the world needs now is more love. I've included a few picture books that offer a child-friendly explanation of Valentine's Day, should you wish to explore that, but my focus is primarily on the modern definition: a day to celebrate love.


One last note about books: while I have traditionally shared Amazon Affiliate links to my book suggestions, I have decided to show independent book shops some love by linking to books on bookshop.org instead. I hope you will join me in supporting small business. For older books that are not available on their platform (but more likely to be available at your local library) I have linked to ThriftBooks instead where you can order used books at a fraction of the cover price (delivery can be slow, so order early).


Valentine's Day Unit: Love, Sweet Love PREVIEW


Bible Verse (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.


Poem

Roses are red

Violets are blue

You love me

And I love you


Song (Religious)

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak, but He is strong.


Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

The Bible tells me so.


Song (Non-Religious)

Skinnamarink (see video to learn the hand motions)

Skinnamarink a dinky dink

Skinnamarinky do

I love you


Skinnamarink a dinky dink

Skinnamarinky do

I love you


I love you in the morning

And in the afternoon

I love you in the evening

Underneath the moon


Skinnamarink a dinky dink

Skinnamarinky do

I love you


Supplies Needed

  • Butcher Paper

  • Construction Paper

  • Scissors

  • Permanent Marker

  • Painter’s Tape

  • Paint Brushes or Sponges

  • Washable Tempera Paint

  • Rice (5 lb. bag)

  • Food Coloring

  • Sensory Bin

  • Candy Conversation Hearts

  • Heart Cookie Cutters

  • Tongs

  • Stickers (100+, any variety)

  • Cornstarch (3 cups recommended) -OR- Tear-free bubble bath

  • Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Roll

  • Large Cardboard Box or Kraft Paper

Introduction: What is Love?

Valentine’s Day is February 14th. It is a day to celebrate love. We are going to be learning about love this week!

Shared Reading The Invisible String - Karst, Patrice

Talking Points: What is love? Who do you love?

Learning Activity: Make Busy Toddler’s Love Posters to introduce the concept of love and things we love about each other.

Easy Activity: Set up Busy Toddler’s Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin and enjoy it all week (or month) long!



Book Substitutions:

Get the Full Valentine's Day Unit

Now you're all set to start off February with lots of love. Purchase the full unit on Teacher'sPayTeachers to see how to use the supplies and print the day-by-day guide to teaching your preschooler about love.


Because of the time and effort I've devoted to making this a quality resource, access to this content will require a one-time subscription fee with no expiration. Here's what you'll get:

  • A curriculum for teaching about love and Valentine's Day in the style of Playing Preschool (see my Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler: Halloween Unit freebie for what you can expect)

  • A hand-picked list of suggested books with four or more substitutions for each

  • Guiding questions of things to talk about with your child

  • 5 days' worth of low-prep learning activities + easy activities

  • High-quality photos of activities and/or links for more examples

  • A printable version to download

Access the full Valentine's Day Unit: 5 Days of Love, Sweet Love HERE

Note: If you have previously purchased this resource, my website no longer supports subscriptions. I have moved all sales of my holiday units to TeachersPayTeachers, but I have records of all purchases. Please email me using the contact page and I will be happy to send you a copy.

Source: Seipel, Arnie. The Dark Origins of Valentine's Day. NPR. February 13, 2011 https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day


Visit my website to shop my Book Lists and discover more books based on your child's interest.


See Also: Playing Preschool Holiday Companion: Halloween Unit, An Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, Playing Preschool Holiday Companion: St. Patrick's Day, Playing Preschool Holiday Companion: Easter Unit


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