Before you get out the paper lace and red construction paper, do a little research with your children about the history of St. Valentine's Day and the superstitions and customs surrounding it. To get you started, check out Tokens of Love by Roberta B. Etter (Abbeville Press, 1990) and point your browser to Valentine's Day History on the Internet.
Bet You Didn't Know
In the 18th century, the custom was for young men to draw names of eligible maidens and pin them on their sleeve. This is where the experession "wearing his heard on his sleeve" comes from.
Perhaps more than any other holiday, Valentine's Day is the day of The Card, and cards are one of the easiest crafts to do with kids. What could be simpler than folding a sheet of paper in half, decorating it, and writing a message inside?
Victorian valentines showcased the printer's art and included moving parts, three-dimensional effects, feathers, real lace and fringe, spun glass, and even pearls. Valentines were sent between friends, not just to objects of romantic affection.
One simple way to decorate a card is to make a design on white or light-colored paper using a traditional pin-pricking or piercing technique. The result can be as simple or complex as you choose.
Project: Pin-Pricked Paper Heart Card
Age: 7 and up
Materials needed: Fairly stiff white paper (lampshade paper works well; get itwhite on one side, colored on the other), red construction paper (or otherkind of paper), a sharp needle or piercer (like a small skewer), baby's breath(or other small dried flowers) scissors, utility knife, glue (optional)
Draw or make a template first and trace around a heart for your basicoutside shape.
Create a simple pattern. Embroidery books can give you some ideas. You can draw this freehand or create one pattern and trace it at evenintervals.
Use the utility knife to make straight and curved cuts (this should bedone by an adult); use the needle or skewer to pierce holes. Make sureto go all one way from back to front of the surface you want to show.
On straight lines that have been cut, use the needle to raise one edge ofeach line open to a slit. On curved lines, use the needle to roll the curve to the inside and open it up so the card color will show through.
Glue baby's breath, other dried flowers, or small silk flowers to theback of your heart, so they extend out the top.
Glue the pierced heart to a card of contrasting color (white on red is nice), putting glue on the outer edges only. Glue a small bow to the top.
Write a message on the front and inside.
Do not flatten. Deliver your card in a small box.