I love to set up simple open-ended invitations to play for my boys. They usually only take a few minutes to set up and use only a few materials, but they open up a child's imagination and foster creativity. Plus, it's always interesting to watch how my two boys will take the same set of materials and use them in different ways, giving me a chance to see their individual personalities shine. And invitations to play generally keep my boys engaged for a long period of time, which is always an added perk.
With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I decided to set up this simple Valentine's invitation to play using a mirror, hearts and window markers. Dry erase markers could be substituted for window markers, but I find that dry erase markers rub off too easily compared to window markers. The hearts that I used were part of a dollar store Valentine's mobile that I disassembled, but heart cookie cutters would be a great alternative.
Mirrors are a fun element to include in playtime as they can help kids discover and learn about self-awareness, reflection and light. My two-year old, K, for instance, is in love with his reflection in mirrors. He loves to get right up close to check himself out.
When not checking out his reflection in the mirror, K spent most of his time practising his fine motor skills by scribbling on the mirror.
He then tried to trace his own hand. He tried really, really hard, but eventually asked me to help him out.
Four-year-old J, on the other hand, was more into tracing and drawing purposeful shapes, like the hearts and his hand.
J then started using a small heart as the basis for drawing a person. He drew a face inside the heart, traced around the outer edge of the heart, and eventually added legs and arms to the heart-shaped body.
Aww, isn't J's heart shaped person adorable?!
More by creative and engaging ideas from Dyan:
Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is a stay at home mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. She enjoys doing a variety of crafts, playing video games, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Dyan began writing her blog And Next Comes L in early 2013 and blogs primarily about sensory activities, quiet books, and unique music activities for kids. You can follow along with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and