Crafts feed more than your child’s creativity.  By talking together while you make a craft, you can teach your child so much through natural play.  A simple collage craft offers many opportunities to learn.  For Valentine’s Day, focus on shapes to spark a life long love for math!


  • Large piece of paper
  • Collection of hearts (see below)
  • Glue (stick or liquid)

Here are some ideas for collecting hearts for the collage.  They each require different materials.

  • Cut out hearts.  For paper you could use construction, wrapping, or tissue paper.  Sheets of craft foam, cardboard, or felt are also options.  If your child is old enough, let her practice cutting with scissors along an outline.
  • Paint hearts.  Try using heart shaped sponges or cookie cutters dipped in paint or painting over a heart stencil for children too young to draw a heart free hand.
  • Buy an assortment of heart stickers.
  • Use (or make) stampers and offer several ink pads.
  • Glue on heart shaped gems, sequins, or beads.

Depending on the age of your child, you can decide how directed you want the craft to be.  The youngest children will enjoy simply playing with the materials.  Preschoolers and school age children might enjoy direction on turning the shapes into a specific design, such as an animal.

Math topics to try as you play with your hearts:

  • Sort the hearts by different characteristics such as color, material, or size.
  • Sequence some hearts by size.
  • Start a pattern with the hearts and ask your child to continue it.
  • Count the hearts.  Keep it fun by asking to your child to total just hearts of a certain size or color, or demonstrate counting by twos.
  • Point out the symmetry of the heart, especially while cutting or drawing them.  Talk about making the collage symmetrical.  Example, “What would I need to add to my picture to make it look the same on both sides?”
  • Play with reflection, rotating, and translating hearts.  All are simple moves for the shape with fancy names!
  • Experiment with what shapes can be arranged to make a heart.
  • Add or remove hearts modeling simple addition and subtract.  Example: “If we take out all the red hearts, how many are left?” or “You used all the little hearts.  How many hearts will be on your picture if we add all the medium size ones?”
  • Read Michael Hall’s book My Heart is Like a Zoo.  It features illustrations all made out of hearts!
  • Go on a shape scavenger hunt.  Use a wand, ruler, or duster to trace the shapes, or collect smaller items in a bucket.