Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

This Valentine’s Day many families in Western MA are spreading and receiving tokens of friendship and kindness by participating in our annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap!

Started in 2008 at the kitchen table of Hilltown Families founder, Sienna Wildfield, over 10,000 handmade valentines have been swapped through the mail over the past decade. Participating families sign up by the end of January and then get busy making ten homemade cards t through the USPS with other families. Not only is the event an opportunity for families to connect with others in their community, participation allows families the chance to be creative together – an activity that can lead not only to creative-free play but can also offer hands-on learning in fields like physics, chemistry, geometry, and cultural studies!

Here a few STE(A)M-based ideas many of our participants have tried over the year to inspire your family to get creative by making and giving these tokens of community connection to your friends and neighbors.


COLOR THEORY: No matter how you craft your valentines, the activity itself will always be some sort of creative exploration. It’s a great time to try out a new medium or style, and kids often are inspired by the availability of new materials. To add depth to your children’s pre-existing artistic genius, try making valentines that feature a color study – the endless shades of valentine-y colors that can be created will amaze budding artists, and doing such a project can help them to get a better grasp on the science of mixing colors. If your kids prefer less structured activities, present them with a new type of paint, pastel, or pencil to try out and allow them to test it out on red or pink paper – when they’re done, you can cut heart shapes or fold cards out of the paper they’ve decorated with their testing.

PHYSICS: Throw in some physics by exploring the wonders of spin art. Make predictions about how your paper will look based on the amount of each color that you use and where you place the paint droplets. By the time you’re done, your kids will have learned firsthand about some basic physics principles! Using centrifugal force to make patterns with paint, dried paintings can be cut into hearts and glued to card stock.

CHEMISTRY: Older students can do some in-depth thinking involving chemistry and physics by making shaved crayon valentines by melting crayons between sheets of waxed paper. While you create, do several tests to experiment how the crayons melt. Which color crayons have lower melting points than other colors?  Ask your self why that is and work together to develop and test a theory.

GEOMETRY & CULTURE: Geometry and cultural studies can be blended into valentine-making, too, without much effort! Origami-style valentines can stand alone without any ornate decoration, or they can serve as cards with a message inside that you must unfold to find, like an origami fortune teller. While you learn some new folding tricks, be sure to learn about the history of origami and its cultural relevance in Japan! Geometry can be added to origami projects easily, making the craft into a multi-disciplinary expedition! With younger children, a discussion of the different shapes that you make throughout the process can be sufficient. Older students can discuss the symmetry of their creation, search for more specific and complex shapes, and assess the angles at which they fold the paper.


Join us next year in our Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! It’s open to everyone living in the four counties of Western Massachusetts! Just sign up for our eNewsletter and to recieve notification of when sign up will begin in early January!

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