You will love these Nature Valentines! They are a really fun forest school activity and result in some of the sweetest and most unique Valentine’s Day cards to give out to family and friends!
Any activity that gets my kids and I out in nature is always a good thing, especially if it gets us out there in the middle of February! I was inspired to make these Nature Valentine’s by my friend Denise. Not only do I love that it gives us a reason to go exploring outside, it also gives a chance to get creative using all natural materials. Read on to learn how to make your own!
What you’ll need to make Nature valentines
- Cardboard. You’ll need a medium size piece of cardboard for this activity. Discarded cereal boxes are great because they are thin and easy for kids to cut, but cardboard used from a packing box is thicker and more durable. Either works great!
- Heart shape template. We used a large cookie cutter as a guide when we cut heart shapes out of cardboard. This is optional, because you could freehand it as well.
- Glue or tape. This is needed to secure the materials onto the cardboard. Tape or a glue stick would be the easiest option if you’ll be attaching materials to your cardboard heart while you are outside in nature. However, we gathered materials and brought them home and then used a hot glue gun instead. We did this because it has a much stronger hold and will last longer.
- Organic material found outside in nature. This is the fun part! You’ll need to collect organic materials found outside in nature. This can be leaves, twigs, dry grass, pebbles, anything you like, as long as you find it out in nature!
How to make Nature valentines
- Cut out heart shapes. Once you’ve found your piece of cardboard, cut heart shapes out of them. You could a cookie cutter as a guide or a printable template or just freehand it! You can make large hearts or several small ones. We opted for medium sized hearts so that we could use them as Valentine’s Day cards to hand out to friends.
- Gather materials. Next, you’ll need to gather material for your Nature Valentines. This was our favorite part! My kids and I went on a walk out in nature with our baskets and just gathered up all the materials we found interesting. We happened to get a bunch of snow that day, so we had get our material home and lay it out to dry for a while, but it ended up working just fine! Look for small, dry materials like small pebbles, acorn caps, twigs, pine tree needles, dried leaves, dried berries, and dried grasses. If you don’t have access to a forest, visit your city park and you can find organic treasures to gather there too!
- Arrange materials onto cardboard heart. After you’ve gathered plenty of organic material, it’s time to arrange it onto your cardboard heart. You could make a pattern or a spiral or write a message using twigs. Just get creative and have fun!
- Glue on materials. Finally, after you’ve arranged your material onto your hearts, it’s time to attach it. You can do this using double-sided tape or glue. We used hot glue because that seems to help it stick on the very best. You’ll just need to dab a bit of glue and press your material onto it until it sticks.
Why we love Nature Valentines
- Connects us with nature. We love this activity because it gets us outside and connected to nature. Even if you don’t end up with a perfect looking Valentine’s Day card, what’s important is that you spent some time outside in the forest with your kids! It’s also an excellent opportunity to teach and learn more about nature. Collecting material from the forest provides ample opportunity to learn about science and math while discussing the material you collect, the forest you’re visiting, and the weather patterns you’re experiencing. You could also discuss the cyclical nature of seasons and animal and plant life-cycles too!
- Forest school inspired activity. The term forest school describes an engaging and innovative approach to early childhood education that focuses on outdoor play and fosters environmental stewardship. Children learn by direct experience using their five senses in a natural outdoor environment. The benefits to outdoor learning are many! Developing motor skills, engaging in creative play, staying healthy, learning how to manage risks, developing independence, and grow their compassion for nature and wildlife are just a few. Learn more about forest school here!
- Gives your kids a chance to get creative. There are so many benefits to artistic creativity for kids. Creating art is just as important to your child’s development as science or math or reading! It’s important for their large and fine motor skill development, it can boost their self-esteem, it’s a great way to relieve stress or anxiety, and it’s fun, among so many other reasons. For a more complete list of benefits, check out this Mom Loves Best article.
- We love Love Day! This is a fun outdoor activity for your kids, but it also results in a really sweet Valentine’s Day card they can give out to their family or friends. And really, what is better than spreading love with these sweet Nature Valentine’s?!
- Hot glue sticks
- Organic material found in nature
- Heart-shape cookie cutter or guide
- Hot glue gun
1. Cut out heart shapes from a piece of discarded cardboard. Use a cookie cutter as a guide or a printable template or just freehand it!
2. Gather organic materials out in nature. Look for small, dry materials like small pebbles, acorn caps, twigs, pine tree needles, dried leaves, dried berries, and dried grasses. If you don't have access to a forest, visit your city park and you can find organic treasures to gather there too!
3. Once you've gathered the organic material you'd like to use, it's time to arrange them onto your cardboard heart. You could make a pattern or a spiral or write a message using twigs. Just get creative and have fun!
4. After you've arranged the material onto your hearts, it's time to attach it. You can do this using double-sided tape or glue. Using a hot glue gun seems to make the material stick onto the cardboard the best.