Valentine's Day Fun for Kids: Sensory, Creative, and Imaginative Play Ideas for Parents

Make Valentine's Day extra special for your kids with our fun and engaging sensory, creative, and imaginative play ideas

Laura @inspiremyplay

Founder of @inspiremyplay, Early Years teacher for 11 years and mummy to three gorgeous girls. I'm passionate about about the benefits of play in early childhood.

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If you're looking for a way to make Valentine's Day extra special for your little ones, look no further! In this blog post, we'll share some of our favourite Valentine's Day-themed sensory, creative, and imaginative play ideas for your little ones. From sensory trays to creative crafts, these activities are sure to keep your kids entertained and engaged for hours on end. So, let's get started and make Valentine's Day fun for kids!

Heart Stick Wands + FREE Printable

These heart wands were such fun to make! We collected some sticks on a walk and I set out a range of materials in the PlayTRAY for them to decorate their sticks.  Winding wool/yarn is a good fine motor challenge but if you have younger ones paint sticks or bio-glitter are a good way of decorating them. We topped our sticks with a cut-out heart and tied some ribbons to the top too.  

You can download these hearts for free here.

Heart Pattern Match

You can use the same printable as above for a simple game. These heart matching cards provide a challenge not only to match the patterns but also the shades of pinks and reds. Simply print off the hearts, cut each heart in half and mix them up. You could also hide them around a room first to find! For younger children slim down the number of pairs there are or use just one of each colour/pattern.

Heart Bird Feeder

If you’ve ever tried making homemade bird feeders with cookie cutters before you’ll know that it can be a bit hit and miss! So I’ve been experimenting and found a foolproof way to make them that works every time! We thought we’d show the birds some love this Valentine’s Day with some heart-shaped feeders!

For our method you’ll need a silicone mould instead of cookie cutters. The key to success here was adding the bird feed to the mould first and then filling each heart up with gelatine until it just covered the bird feed. It held the shape together so well and there were no stray bits falling off when removing them.

1. Firstly, dissolve the gelatine in hot water according to the packet instructions but DON’T add the additional water. It took two sachets-worth to have enough liquid to pour over all 6 hearts.

2. Once you’ve poured it over, allow the gelatine to cool and start to set (we put ours in the freezer for 10 minutes to speed it up). Then take a pencil and make a hole in each one.

3.Transfer back to the fridge to completely set (6 hours approx or overnight is good). 

4. Remove them from the mould. You may need to poke the pencil through the hole from the other side to open it up again. . Thread some twine through each one and they are ready to hang outside! 

Sticky Heart for Fine Motor Skills

This sticky heart is a very simple activity that is brilliant for developing fine motor skills.  

After cutting the heart shape out of cardboard you need to pop a piece of contact paper (sticky-back plastic) on the back with the sticky side facing up. 

I used a pen to draw the different lines over the heart and provided lots of craft supplies and loose parts to stick onto them. Following the lines like this with the craft materials is a great fine motor challenge and develops manual dexterity. 

You could also use this activity to practice repeating patterns. For younger ones you can do a simpler version without the lines and they can enjoy just decorating the heart with craft materials and taking it off again! The stickiness of the contact paper lasts surprisingly well with this activity so you should get quite a few attempts at it and these craft supplies tend to come off really easily so you can re-use them for something else 

Marbled Hearts

This is still one of my girls favourite activities! If you’ve never made marbled card using shaving foam before you need to put this one on your list. My tip is to use glossy photo card over regular card. The colours are so vibrant and it dries instantly, as well as looking lovely and glossy obviously!

To make marbled hearts, follow these simple instructions:

1.First cover a tray or a plate with shaving foam. 

2.  Add drops of food colouring to the shaving foam in your chosen colours. 

3. Use the end of a paintbrush to make patterns in the shaving foam. 

4. Place a piece of photo card or regular card on top of the shaving foam and gently press it down. 

5. Finally, lay your piece of photo card face up on a tray and scrape off the excess shaving foam. We used a ruler but a piece of card would do the trick too. Once the shaving foam has been scraped off you’re left with a beautiful, unique pattern every time.

You can have several goes of this before needing to add a bit more food colouring. We ended up doing several trays of shaving foam in the end- they were having such a great time! Once all the excess shaving foam has been removed, cut out the hearts. These can be used to make cards or strung up to make a heart garland for Valentine’s Day. 

Pink Chickpeas

Scooping, filling, pouring and emptying is such an attractive activity for little ones that never seems to grow old! If you haven’t tried this with dried chickpeas I definitely recommend giving it a go. Not only is it a super satisfying, tactile material it takes minutes to colour and lasts pretty much forever if stored in a dry, airtight container. 

The Inspire My Play bowls and scoops are perfect for this. Check them out here.

To colour chickpeas simply add them to a bag or a jar with a squirt of tempera/ ready mix paint and give them a good shake. Lay them on a baking tray to dry before using. As well as scoops and bowls, cake cases are a great addition to sensory play.

Remember, chickpeas can be a choking hazard. Please supervise your child carefully.

Valentine's Bubble Foam

Bubble foam is such an easy activity to set up but such a fun alternative to regular water play! 

1. To make bubble foam, place 1/2 cup of tear-free bubble bath in a bowl with 1 cup of water. You can use dish soap instead but just be aware this may sting their eyes if they rub them. 

2. Add a few drops of pink food colouring. We did one batch of dark pink and and one of light to get this swirly look. 

3. Use an electric mixer or blender to mix the ingredients together until you start to get stiff peaks. Scoop out the bubble foam into your tray. You will probably have some liquid left at the bottom of the bowl so just give it another whizz and you’ll be able to use that too. 

Finally add a few tools for scooping and some little pots etc for filling. Again, silicone cup cases always go down well as do toy ice cream cones. We also added some pom-poms to the PlayTRAY! The great thing about bubble foam is that it can be revived just by whizzing it up again!

Secret Ice Pictures

Have you tried creating pictures on ice? A little bit of table salt brushed around a cookie cutter or stencil creates a hidden picture on ice, ready to be discovered! We used watered down ready mix paint to reveal the hearts in the ice.

You need to be ready to do this activity straight away after prepping before the salt dissolves the ice too much. Top tip if you are using the PlayTRAY lid for this…take out the bottom drawer of your freezer and place the tray in position and then pour the water in. Or you could put the tray lid outside on a cold night!

Petal Play Dough

This is a sweet play dough set up that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day, but equally fun at anytime of year 💕 Play dough is a great activity for sibling groups and has so many therapeutic benefits, not to mention what a great fine motor workout it is for little hands! If you’ve never made your own you need to! It’s 100 times better than store bought play dough! To make petal play dough you will need: 

* 1 1/2 cups of plain (all purpose flour) 

* 1/2 cup of salt 

* 2 tbsp of cream of tartar 

* 1 cup of boiling water 

* 2 tbsp of coconut oil (or vegetable oil). 

* Food Colouring (optional) 

*1/2 cup of dried petals Mix all the dry ingredients together. 

Add the food colouring (if using) to the boiling water and also the coconut oil. Add the dried petals and mix until it comes together as a dough before removing it from the bowl and kneading on a clean surface. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour and if it’s too dry add a splash more water. You can read more about our no cook homemade play dough here. I bought a bag of dried petals that I’ve used for various play activities but you could always make your own! Along with the play dough we used cookie cutters, silicone cupcake cases & mini roses to decorate. 

Play Dough Chocolate

Hold on to your chocolate boxes this Valentine’s Day! They are so useful for play! I set up this chocolate making activity with some play dough to mould into chocolates and some little bits to decorate them with- heart beads and wire roses. Chocolate play dough is one of our favourite variations on regular play dough. To make it you will need: 

* 1 1/2 cups of plain (all purpose flour) 

* 1/2 cup of salt 

* 1/2 cup of cocoa powder 

* 2 tbsp of cream of tartar 

* 2 tbsp of coconut oil 

* 1 cup of boiling water 

Mix all the dry ingredients up. Add the coconut oil to the water and then pour into the mixture. Mix it until it comes together as a ball and then knead really well on a clean surface. If you feel the mixture is too dry add a splash more water.  I also had some white play dough in the cupboard so we used that for white chocolate and we mixed the two together to give a truffle effect! We make white play dough using Wilton White Icing Colour and it works a treat.

Puffy Paint Hearts

Puffy paint is a combination of shaving foam & PVA (school/white glue) and is such a fun texture to paint with! When it dries, puffy paint is squishy and soft to touch. It’s the perfect activity for preschoolers and toddlers! To make puffy paint you will need... 

• shaving foam 

• PVA/school glue 

• food colouring 

Mix roughly equal amounts of shaving foam and glue together, don’t worry if it’s not exact. Add a drop or two of food colouring and mix until smooth. Decorate with craft bits or sprinkle with bio-glitter!

Valentines Day Love Bug Craft

Here’s a cute craft that is perfect to do with little ones for Valentine’s Day! Our flapping Love Bug is so easy to make using recycled materials, split pins and some string to pull the wings up and down. Why not hide a little message underneath as a surprise? Here's how to make your Love Bug: 

1. Cut out two heart-shaped wings and glue tissue paper and hearts over to create a patchwork effect. 

2. Paint or colour in a tp (toilet) roll and add features. To make the antennae paint or colour in two cotton buds black and glue on some paper hearts. Glue these onto the inside of the tp roll. 

3. Holding the wings in position, use a sharp object to make a hole where the split pins are to go. Attach the wings to the tp roll using the split pin. 

4. Create a second hole in the wings and tie a piece of string to each one. Thread the string through the middle of the tp roll, tie the two pieces together and add a bead to the bottom. 

5. When you pull on the bead the wings will flap up to reveal your surprise message! 

Petal Perfume

If you receive some flowers for Valentine’s Day make sure you hold on to them after they’ve wilted and save this activity for later!  

We used these wilting tulips for some perfume and potion making. I let my older girls loose with the food colouring so they could make their own petal perfumes from scratch but for my younger one I set up some pre-coloured water in the PlayTRAY compartments. 

To achieve these pastel shades I used the tiniest amount of food colouring. My youngest had great fun using the droppers to transfer the coloured water to her perfume pot before adding petals and a little bit of scent using essential oils. These droppers get used all the time in our play. 

You can find them listed in my Amazon storefront along with the essential oils and lots of other things we use for sensory play.

Watercolour Nature Print Hearts

This printing technique is a favourite of ours and it’s an easy one to do with kids. You can use plants or flowers for this. We used ferns from the garden.

You will need:

• Watercolour paints 

• Thick paper or card 

• Leaves/ flowers 

• Paintbrush 


1. Paint your piece of card with watercolour, making sure the paper is fairly wet. 

2. Press in your leaves (or flowers) with the veins facing downwards. 

3. Re-paint over the leaves/flowers to ensure all parts are ‘stuck down’ to the paper. 

4. Leave it to dry thoroughly before removing the leaves/flowers to reveal the print. Don’t be tempted to take it off before it’s dry or you might lose the print! 

Frozen Heart

I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day pass by without using my heart-shaped baking tin. Given that I’m not much of a baker we decided to use it for some frozen sensory play instead! 

These cranberries were left over from another sensory play activity. I often find freezing things post play is a brilliant way of getting another activity out of something and not wasting resources. And if you’re looking for an easy set-up, but maximum play time, freezing things is the way to go! Just give them some warm water, spray bottle, droppers and a few implements to chip away at it and I guarantee you’ll get to drink your cup of tea in peace!

Fizzy Heart Surprises

Here’s a Valentine’s twist on the classic bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and vinegar experiment. When these two ingredients mix they react and start fizzing and foaming, creating carbon dioxide gas. It's fascinating to watch!

I’ve called these fizzy heart surprises as I hid a letter in each one to find as the baking soda is dissolved by the vinegar.

To make these, mix 1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda with a tablespoon of oil and a few drops of food colouring. It should be like a thick paste. Place a letter (or whatever you want to hide) inside a heart shaped cookie cutter and spoon the mixture over it. Make sure the mixture is packed tightly inside the cookie cutter before removing. Repeat for as many hearts as you’d like. Then all you need is a dropper and a bowl of white vinegar and you’re ready to enjoy all the fizzing! 

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