A Reggio-Inspired Valentine's Day: Literacy from the He{ART} ♡ Part 1


Valentine's Day is one of my favorite celebrations throughout the year, and a beautiful opportunity for learning about our most important and universal value: love.

What is LOVE? 

Who are the people we love?

How do we show love?

Have you ever asked your child these questions? Their answers might surprise you {and make you giggle!}

"Love is a hug and a kiss after I get a boo-boo."

"Love is cuddles."

"Love is when my mom makes pancakes."

Over the coming days, I'll be sharing a series of Reggio-inspired invitations to explore the idea of LOVE as we weave in important aspects of reading, writing and representing through Language Arts.

Today's blog post shares a special DIY bookmaking activity to explore "LOVE" with children, integrating playful literacy in a meaningful and authentic way. The goal is to encourage our kids to write with purpose in a gentle and age-appropriate manner.

DIY Handmade Book

This DIY book structure, called a Concertina book, shines a light on children's ideas and theories about love.

It is perfect for the pre-writer all the way to the developing writer because it can be adapted for those just learning to represent their ideas with drawings, all the way up to the child exploring the written word with conventional text.

Warm Up

Begin with a Y Chart to warm up your child prior knowledge. Ask your child to share responses to the following questions:

1. What is love?

2. Who are the people we love?

3. How do we show love?

Read Aloud

We love the book, Mama, Do You Love Me, by Barbara Joose: a story a parent’s unconditional and everlasting love.

Illustrating the Book

1. Fold a few sheets of art-paper into 4 compartments to make a grid.

Invite your child to draw a series of pictures {we love Sharpie markers}. Start with inviting them to draw love. What is love? Draw one idea per square.

{Break this invitation up over several days - not all at once}

Next, using the other folded grids, invite them to draw and label the people that they love.

Finally, invite them to draw ways they can show love.

Constructing the Book

You'll need:

  • 2 small sheets cardstock (cut to 4.25x5.5")
  • 1 sheet contrasting cardstock
  • glue stick
  • small envelopes
  • book titles (download below)

1. Begin with two small sheets of cardstock (8.5 x 5.5"), and another sheet of contrasting colored cardstock (8.5 x 11"). 

Make an accordion-fan with the contrasting colored cardstock. Glue the cover, and back of the book inside the end-folds.

2. Next, add your envelopes. For each "mountain fold," glue one envelope (with opening facing out). If you want to add an "artful extra," you can marble the envelopes first using a scraped chalk in water marbling technique or paint-scrape technique. I share that process inside this blog post.

3.  Cut out your children's images from the drawing activity earlier. (What is love, who do we love, how do we show love) and place these drawings inside each envelope. Encourage a little bit of writing on the back of each picture. 

4. Add an artful cover to your book, and "chapter titles" (use the Downloads below for a free printable). Get inspired for your cover with some of these process-art mixed media ideas:

5. Encourage your child to share their book! Invite her to sit it in an "Author's Chair" (a special chair where she can read her story). It's so important to celebrate our children as budding authors. 

This published book will be one you'll cherish forever.   

Here are the downloads for this project:

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