Ah, Valentine’s Day: who doesn’t like giving and receiving tokens of affection? While we love up the people in our lives everyday, February 14 overflows with chocolate, flowers and mushy cards. Such shows of love are quite traditional, but there are other ways to honor love, not just for each other, but for the natural world around us, too.
One of our favorite Valentine’s Day activities is a going on a heart-filled nature treasure hunt. The idea is simple: go outside, search for as many naturally occurring heart-shapes as you can, snap a photo and that’s it. You can make it a friendly competition to see who spots the most.
Encourage your little one to look high and low, behind and under different objects: does the bark on that tree grow in a cool pattern? What’s under that pile of leaves? If snow currently blankets your world, it might be more challenging to find heart shapes. Instead, create treasures for each other to find. Gather sticks of different lengths and lay them out in a heart or use one to draw a heart in the snow. Paint flat rocks with colorful hearts to leave around the neighborhood for others to find or if it’s a clear day, search out heart-shaped cloud formations.
When kids turn on their powers of observation, they often come up with delightful insights and share a perspective we might miss. On a recent treasure hunt with my 7-year-old daughter she showed me how simply changing your perspective reveals the unexpected.
A dormant vine clinging to the side of our house didn’t seem like much at first, but when my daughter noticed the way a thin branch curved and looped, she adjusted her point of view until it blended with the rest of the leafless plant to look like a heart (see the photo for a sample of our finds and a hand-made creation).
Now, when we step outside, we see “found hearts” all around us and point out new ones when we walk the dog or play in the park. Besides enjoying the benefits of fresh air, enjoying the outdoors together is a great time to be in the moment with your child and talk about the ways we can love and take care of the earth.
Enjoy your heart-shaped hunt and be sure to share photos of your finds in the comments!