I received complimentary product to facilitate this post from Horizons Group USA. As always, opinions remain 100% my own.
Conversation hearts are as synonymous with Valentine’s Day as cupid. You can grab a giant bag anywhere for almost nothing – and you absolutely should because they are an awesome way for your kids to learn through play. We’ve done LOTS of Conversation Heart Activities over the years – from Graphing Conversation Hearts to Learning Sight Words with Conversation Hearts, and even playing Valentine Bingo with Conversation Hearts. But after making Stamped Conversation Heart Valentine Cookies last week, the kids loved it so much – it inspired this Play Dough Invitation, inspired by… you guessed it… Conversation Hearts!
Conversation Heart Play Dough
Why do I love using Conversation Heart activities with the preschool to kindergarten age group? Because they are festive for Valentine’s Day AND they encourage early literacy skills. With short, sight words on each little heart, they are easy for emerging readers to read and even preschoolers just learning their letters to use too (you can even find ABC candy hearts!).
Simple Conversation Heart Activities Set-Up
For this simple Play Dough Invitation, I made three different colors of play dough for Valentine’s Day (you can find my favorite play dough recipe here): pink, purple and white. To add to the sensory experience, I added a few drops of essential oils to each one – wild orange to pink, lavender to purple and peppermint to the white – and glitter for extra sparkle.
Then, using our favorite divided sorting tray, I added the play dough, a set of alphabet stamps, assorted heart cookie cutters, rolling pins, and a jar of Conversation Hearts for inspiration (while keeping them out of their mouths!). I set it out and let the kids create however they saw fit.
Side note: I get asked about this tray EVERY time I use it – I got it at the Dollar Store, and it is actually an appetizer tray. We use it for almost every craft activity I do with the kids, for sorting activities, and my oldest LOVES using it when she’s building LEGO.
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Varying Stages of Learning Through Play
Because I have a toddler, preschooler and a kindergartener, I try to set up activities they can all participate in, while keeping them open-ended that they can also be age and development level appropriate for each of them.
In this case, my 2 year old toddler was content to smash play dough and stamp letter at random into it.
My 4 year old, who knows her letters and is beginning to put together letter sounds and make words, loved shaking up the jar of candy hearts.
She would pick out one for inspiration, track down the letters and stamp them onto her heart. She thought it was AMAZING that she was making words!
My kindergartener, who is 6 and reading, created her own words and phrases independently. Check out my Valentine’s Day Conversation Hearts Literacy Activity to see them at this in action! For more guidance on how to tailor this for appropriate early literacy development, check out this Valentine’s Day Conversation Hearts Literacy Activity from No Time for Flash Cards.
More Conversation Heart Activities
Want more ways to play with these candy hearts? Be sure to check out my free printables for Graphing and Mapping Conversation Hearts. Need a game for your child’s classroom Valentine’s party? Check out our Printable Valentine Bingo designed for use with candy hearts.
For early readers, you might also enjoy this Sorting Sight Words activity featuring SweetHeart Candy Hearts. And after making stamped play dough hearts, your kids will be ready to make edible versions – try these easy Valentine Cookies for Kids using the stamping technique seen here.
You can find all of these and more on my Kids Activities and Valentine’s Day boards on Pinterest. Be sure to also follow me on Instagram, where you can get sneak peeks of these activities and see the behind the scenes in my Instagram stories daily!
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