Women and their Work

Valentine Plans and Parties for Old and Young

Second only to Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day is the children’s festival. It is the day of children s parties and she is a wise mother who, knows how to encourage the children to entertain themselves. They love to make things, to do things—themselves. Here are some hints from other mothers and a teacher who have learned the secret.

INA WINIFRED COLWELL February 1 1926
Women and their Work

Valentine Plans and Parties for Old and Young

Second only to Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day is the children’s festival. It is the day of children s parties and she is a wise mother who, knows how to encourage the children to entertain themselves. They love to make things, to do things—themselves. Here are some hints from other mothers and a teacher who have learned the secret.

INA WINIFRED COLWELL February 1 1926

Valentine Plans and Parties for Old and Young

Women and their Work

Second only to Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day is the children’s festival. It is the day of children s parties and she is a wise mother who, knows how to encourage the children to entertain themselves. They love to make things, to do things—themselves. Here are some hints from other mothers and a teacher who have learned the secret.

INA WINIFRED COLWELL

EVEN before the calendar announces that February is with us once again, scores of children, the world over, are making preparations for St. Valentine’s day.

Bright pieces of carefully-saved paper, gay pictures clipped from magazines, paste pot and scissors tax the ingenuity of the childish brain to produce something quite new in the way of valentines. Many laborious hours are spent in the planning and while the children themselves are deriving the maximum of interest and pleasure therefrom, they are, at the same time, unconsciously helping to develop their ability to create, to think, and to plan for themselves.

The results are often a revelation to parents and older folk, for it is, many times, the humble valentine which first bespeaks the individuality of the child.

“Their Own Party”

VALENTINE parties are quite as, popular with the mother as they are with the children. For her it means the minimum of work and expense-—a big item, when the family is large and the income comparatively small. One mother I know went a step further than usual. She told the children it was entirely their party. They must do the inviting as well as the planning and entertaining.

The invitations went out, carefully

printed with white ink on red hearts. These hearts, the children had traced and cut from a large sheet of red cardboard which they purchased with their carefully saved pennies. Every little guest fortunate enough to receive one accepted. At the appointed time all assembled in anticipation of a good time to come. They were handed half of a valentine, irregularly cut, and told to match for partners. Once “matched,” the completed valentines instructed the lucky pair to proceed to a spot marked with the number shown on their particular card.

It wasn’t hard to find the numbers. They had been cut from an old calendar, pasted on stiff cardboard and placed on mantel or over chair in the room, where the children could easily find them.

When all the children had been numbered, they were given paper, pencil, scissors, paste and one or two pictures, and were told to make a valentine within a given time, the best valentine to receive a prize. How the children worked. They bumped heads in their excitement, and they whispered together, working as they whispered. Some of them were not through when the call came, “Time’s up,” but they were not allowed any overtime.

“Hunt the Heart,” came next, and this was played the same as “Hunt the Slipper,” with the one exception that a stuffed cotton heart was substituted for the slipper, and later this same heart

was used to “Pin the Heart on the Donkey.”

The arrival of a special St. Valentine’s mail man added to the excitement and novelty of the entertainment. In his bag was a valentine for each little guest. (The children had induced an old gardener who lived next door to act in this capacity and he enjoyed it just as much as they did).

Decorating the table was the mother’s only contribution to the entertainment, and this she found an easy task. Crepe paper formed the crust of a “St. Valentine’s pie” in the centre of the table, and from this paper streamers led to each place. She was rather proud of her paper bird which seemed to be flying directly overhead, bearing in his beak a word of greeting. One little girl expressed her delight rather quaintly:

“The table looks ’most as if it was for a real grown-up party.” In the pie was found a paper hat for each little guest.

An Indoor Picnic

PERHAPS a more novel method of.

entertainment was conceived by another mother. When refreshment time came each little boy was asked to select a number from a plate passed him, and further instructed to go into the dining room and bring back with him the paü he found there bearing his number. The

contents of his pail were for himself and his partner.

The pails were of cardboard, with gay pictures and hearts painted thereon and were just large enough to contain refreshments for two little persons. Sandwiches, wrapped in waxed paper, gave the “picnic-y air” which children love, especially when the snow is on the ground. Then with these little picnic pails they could group together on the stairs—any place in fact where they felt they would be comfortable—and this plan made the refreshment hour a little more informal than would otherwise have been the case.

Getting the pails ready and filled before the arrival of the guests made it very much easier for the mother. Her work was through before the excitement commenced, and so she was able to enjoy it better with the children. Some mothers dislike parties because of the hurry and scurry at refreshment time, and those mothers may welcome this easy solution of the problem.

j Making Their Own

CHILDREN who save their pennies to buy “store” valentines, lose the best j that this festive season has to offer. They cannot know the glow that warms the I heart—that almost indescribable proud j sensation when realization shows they have made something from their own store of supplies, good enough to be given i away to those they love. The creative I instinct is strong in the child, and this j should be carefully nurtured and trained j to grow in the right way. j Particularly is this emphasized in the kindergarten.

“Would you like to look in while we are having our Valentine party?” the teacher of a flourishing kindergarten asked me.

“Indeed I would!” I replied, and five minutes before the time appointed I was knocking at her classroom door. There was sucha hubbub of noises inside that my knock was not heard, and I ventured to push the door and peek in. The teacher saw me at once and came forward, smiling her welcome.

This was such a carefree, rollicking, jolly sort of place, filled almost to overflowing with merry kiddies, that I shut the door to blot out the sombreness of the world outside. As I went forward to greet the teacher I almost fell over a large square box covered with gay pictures and red hearts.

“That’s St. Valentine’s mail box,” explained my hostess. “We are going to open it to-day and there are many valentines in it. All of them are the work of the children here. I would not let them bring any ‘store’ valentines because I wanted the children to do all the work themselves. As soon as a valentine was ready to be mailed, it was popped in here. Tiny tots cannot go from door to door as can the older children, and so we have our own delivery system.”

“Who made the mail box?” I enquired. “The children. That was the first thing we did to get ready for St. Valentine’s day. It’s only a hat box, you know, but we have covered it with so many pictures, hearts and cupids that it is just what we want, now. And here is the second step in our preparations.”

She raised her hand above her head, indicating chains of different colored paper festooned above our heads.

“Even the smallest children can be taught to make these readily. Here are some little people working at some now.” She led the way to a work table at which were seated some ten or fifteen children, all busily engaged, under the supervision of a red-cheeked assistant.

I watched one chubby girl pick up an oblong piece of paper, paste one end of it, and draw the other end over the pasted part. She made no creases and so she had a circular bit of paper as a result. Through this she passed a second slip' of paper, the same size as the first but of different color, and this was pasted end to end in the same manner. For such a tiny girl it seemed to me that she worked remarkably fast. The chain grew rapidly under her fingers.

“The children like to make chains. They see the results so quickly,” the teacher explained.

They Like Music

THERE was very little routine work that day. So many members of the class had brought with them a smaller

brother or sister that this was out of the question. The little strangers would not know what was required of therm All of them now were excited and with the passing of moments the excitement grew. Children left their seats and begged permission to be “mail man.” The teacher held up her hand for silence.

“First of all, we are going to be quiet,” she said. “Miss May, will you please play us something on the piano. I want all the little people to see how quiet each one can be.”

The children were grouped in a circle, and Miss May struck the opening chord. It was Beethoven’s Minuet in G _ she played, and her rendering was exquisitely soft. As she played, the children grew less restless, and soon, one could almost ■ imagine the room was empty save for the player. The soothing effect of the music was very marked and even when the last note had died away the children sat like little mummies waiting for their signal.

In five minutes the place was all hubbub again. A “mail man” was selected and the big box opened. As the teacher had said, every valentine in that box had been made by some little member of the, class, but she did not know, or was not supposed to know that some of the best efforts were painstakingly addressed to" “Teacher.” I was admiring the originality of one of them when a little blue-eyed fellow approached and timidly laid a hand on my knee.

“Do you like that one, lady?” he asked, and when I said I did he could no longer restrain the pride within him. “I made that, all by myself!”

He was gone just as soon as he had said it, for shyness had the better of him by then, and from the little valentine I held in my hand I could almost read the character of the real child._ There was character there—plenty of it—character and originality, but there was also evidence of the lack of faith which the little fellow had in his own powers to accomplish his ideals. He was afraid of what he could do.

“He is afraid now, but he won’t be always,” his teacher said with a smile. “Do you know he’s been here nearly a year and I had just about classified him as a commonplace child. He was so shy, so anxious to be all the time in the background. I never really understood him until I saw his valentine. It’s often like that, you know. That is why we spend so much time teaching a child to use his own ideas.”