Advancing Children's Health

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Handmade Hearts Help Little Hands Develop

Published by , on Feb 9, 2015

For hands-on, heart-shaped fun this Valentine’s Day, try getting creative with items you already have at home. Encourage children to design their own handmade cards using heart-shaped stamps made of empty toilet paper rolls! In addition to creative fun, this type of project helps children develop important fine motor skills and shows how you can reuse household items in an environmentally friendly way. Directions and ideas are listed below, along with details about how this particular project helps children develop and practice skills.

Heart stamp “how-to”


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Materials needed:
Empty toilet paper rolls
Paint or ink pad
Paper plate
Construction paper or card stock

Holding the toilet paper roll with one open end facing you, lightly press in the top portion across the full length of the roll then pinch the bottom so the end of the roll forms a heart shape (see photo). If needed, secure the heart shape by loosely wrapping a piece of tape across the top of the tube. Younger children may find the tape helpful when stamping; older children may be more skilled at holding the heart shape in place.

If you’re using paint, put a small amount onto the paper plate. Dip one end of the heart-shaped roll into the paint or ink then stamp a heart shape onto the paper. You can continue to add paint or ink to the stamp and stamp more hearts of the same color, or use additional toilet paper rolls and colors to create colorful heart patterns.

Developmental benefits of stamping activities


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Occupational therapist Jessica Z. Lynn works with children to help them strengthen and develop the fine motor skills needed for everyday activities such as manipulating toys, fastening buttons and snaps, using a spoon or fork, cutting, writing, and completing other important tasks. Here’s what she has to say about the benefits of this particular activity and how you can use this type of project to encourage additional skill development:

“Hidden within this fun and creative Valentine’s Day craft is an opportunity for children to work on fine motor and visual motor integration skills. The activity requires children to form a cup with their hands, helping to develop the arches necessary to pick up and hold a variety of different sized objects and materials. While keeping the roll steady with the pinky and ring fingers (stabilizing), the child is using the middle finger, index finger and thumb to gently push into the roll. The ability to use each side of your hand for different functions (one side stabilizing, the other performing a more complex task) is essential for tasks such as coloring, writing, drawing, buttoning, snapping and other manipulation activities.

The most difficult part of the craft is modulating (adjusting the amount of pressure necessary to push into the roll to form a heart) which is something that can be very tricky for little fingers to figure out! You can make the activity easier by taping the roll into shape and having the child focus on using the tips of their fingers to hold it. You can also add a challenge by putting the paint and paper each on one side of the middle of the table to encourage them to cross over the midline! Or hang the paper on the refrigerator or wall so the child has to incorporate his or her wrist when stamping.”

heart stamping TP craftFocus on family fun


Handmade projects bring a special joy to all involved and can be a fun developmental activity for children of all ages and abilities. We hope this project idea and other family fun ideas from CHoR inspire fun for your family and the children in your lives!

Handmade heart project ideas


- Stamp hearts on strip of card stock, attach string or ribbon, and write a sweet message on the back for a heart-felt bookmark valentine.

- Paint a blank card in a solid color leaving a border around the edges. Once the paint dries, stamp on hearts in a lighter color or white.

- Cut out stamped hearts, fold them down the center, and glue onto a card for a 3D effect.

- Stamp hearts on full sheets of construction paper or card stock to make Valentine’s Day placemats.

- Dip the heart-shaped edge in glue and stamp onto paper. Cover the stamp in glitter before the glue dries.

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