There are limitless ways to play (and learn) with the candy conversation hearts that surround us this time of year! Here are just a few ideas to get you started. The activities listed below encompass a wide range of learning skills such as fine motor, math, art, and literacy. Many of them can be adjusted to work for toddlers through kindergarteners. (If using these conversation hearts with young children, be sure to supervise closely as the candy can be considered a choking hazard.)
Note: When using edible items for learning activities, I have found it useful to have the children wash their hands first and to let them know they will get to snack on a few when the activity is over.
Free play! Just give your child a pile of the candy hearts, and see what they decide to do with them (under close supervision of course). This sparks their imagination.
Stack them See how tall a stack the kids can make. For older children, encourage cooperation by having them work together to problem solve ways to make their stack taller.
Post them – Young children often enjoy perfecting their hand-eye coordination skills by posting objects. Have your toddler post these candy hearts into plastic water bottles (under close supervision) one by one.
Transfer them – These conversation hearts provide a novel way for young children to practice their fine motor skills by maneuvering the candy with spoons, scoops, or tongs.
Scavenger hunt – Place the candy hearts around the room ahead of time, and then have your child search for them. Increase the difficulty by making it a timed hunt or having them search for only a specific color.
Sort them – into groups by color. You can use the heart printable found in this post by Totschooling.
Graph them by color- Prekinders has a great printable for this here. Be sure to discuss the results of the graph once completed. (Which color of the heart did we have the most, the least, etc…)
Make patterns – Use egg cartons or mini muffin tins. Start by creating simple patterns for your child to finish. If they’re ready for it, increase the complexity of the pattern. Allow the child to make his/her own pattern also. You can use these pattern printables too.
Trace letters – You can find a great set of alphabet printables to “trace” (or fill with candy hearts) at The Measured Mom.
Play Simon Says Give the child(ren) a handful of the conversation hearts, then engage their listening skills by giving oral directions involving the candy. (For example, “Simon says put a purple heart on your head”, “put all the hearts in a straight line.)
Make shapes – Print the outline for any shape(s) your child is learning from Tim’s Printables, and have the child place candy hearts along the outline as a way of becoming more familiar with the shape and its properties.
Decorate “cookies” – Use heart shaped cookie cutters to form “cookies” out of play-doh, and have your young child decorate them with the candy hearts.
Make 10 – give the child a few candy hearts (fewer than ten), have the child count the number of hearts given, then have the child determine how many more hearts are needed to make a total of ten. Initially, children may need to physically count out each additional heart they need (from the main pile). For older children, aim for a larger total such as 20, 50, or 100.
Dissolve them in different liquids making observations along the way. See this post from Fun a Day for a great example.
Create art – Have children arrange their candy hearts into a picture (such as a flower or animal) on a sheet of construction paper. Once they have the hearts arranged the way they like, they can glue them to the paper.
Make them dance – Check out this simple science activity set up by From Playdough to Plato.
I hope you and your little ones enjoy playing with conversation hearts as much as we do!