Let's Celebrate Valentine's Day!
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify and describe some of the symbols and traditions associated with Valentine’s Day in the United States.
- Call the students together.
- Tell students that something very exciting has happened: a valentine has arrived in the mail for the whole class. It has included an invitation to celebrate Valentine's Day. (It can be fun to have a real valentine to show the class, even more exciting if actually addressed and mailed, that includes an invitation to the class Valentine's Day party. This is not necessary if prep time is limited. Students can simply be told that such a valentine arrived.)
- Ask the students to think about everything they know about Valentine's Day, so that they can prepare to celebrate the holiday. Write down their thoughts on a white board or large piece of poster board.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- As students share, guide the discussion to how Valentine's Day is about sharing love with others.
- Since Valentine's Day is a holiday about expressing loving emotions, ask students to think about what love is. Allow students the opportunity to share and talk about this.
- Read students The I Love You Book by Todd Parr.
- After reading the book, have students think about and share different ways they can express their love for others. It can help to prompt them to think of specific people: Mom, Dad, sister, grandparent.
- Explain that Valentine's Day is a great time to express love. Tell the students that they might even get a few more ideas for ways to do this after spending some time at today's centers.
Guided Practice(5 minutes)
- Introduce students to the various stations and materials.
Book Library Area
- Fill the book area with books about Valentine's Day such as: The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond, The Story of Valentine's Day by Nancy J. Skarmeas, or The Valentine Bears. It can also be fun to include stuffed animals, puppets, and/or a felt board for students to act out the stories.
Arts and Crafts Area
- Encourage students to practice their folding and writing skills as they make valentines. Providing a wide range of materials (scissors, stamps, markers, old valentines, lace, etc.) can make the activity a little messy, but will allow students to really get creative. One way to minimize mess is to create different mini-stations with smaller groupings of materials. Students can travel between the stations to access all of the materials, but the materials won't become a giant mess in one area.
- If possible, have different items like bouquets of fake flowers, old valentines, and empty chocolate boxes available for students to use in their imaginative play.
- In place of water, fill the water table with flower petals, glitter, rice colored with red food coloring, etc. A variety of colors and textures makes for a fun visual and tactile experience.
Students can make or just eat a variety of Valentine's Day treats. For a healthy treat, it can be fun to focus on red and pink fruits. Strawberries, cherries, and apples are fantastic choices. For a slightly less healthy treat, making Rice Krispy Treats with pink or red food coloring in the marshmallows mixture is an easy crowd pleaser as are red popsicles.
- Review any general classroom rules and expectations before letting students loose to explore the centers.
Independent working time(30 minutes)
- As students are engaging with the various centers, make sure that students are rotating and not just staying in one center for the entire time. Enforce any classroom rules and monitor that centers do not become too crowded.
- Establish clear limits for the amount of students allowed in each center at any time. Students can sign-up on a wait list for centers that are already full.
- Ask students questions about the choices they're making and the types of objects they're using to help them expand their knowledge about Valentine’s Day. For example: What shape do we use to show love on Valentine’s Day? What colors do you see a lot of in the water table?
- Enrichment: For students who would benefit from even more of a challenge, adopt a nursing home or other classroom for Valentine’s Day. Have students create valentines for everyone and plan other decorations, games, and surprises to make the holiday special for their new adopted friends!
- Support: For students who need a little extra assistance, going through the centers with a partner or adult to scaffold the activity can be useful. Students should be encouraged to engage with the centers at whatever level is possible for them, and center activities can be modified as needed to allow children to feel comfortable participating. For example, a student might be encouraged to use different types of materials to complete the same craft or have the centers brought to them instead of going to the various centers if mobility issues exist.
- Students can be assessed based on their involvement in center activities. Appropriate engagement with center materials as well as their interactions with peers and adults at the centers should be considered.
- Students can also be assessed based on the contributions to the class discussion. Topic knowledge, behavior, and language skills can all be assessed during the group discussions.
Review and closing(10 minutes)
- Call students together.
- Ask students to share their experiences participating in the activities or centers with the class. Some questions you could ask include: Which centers did you like the most? Why did you decorate your projects the way you did? Are there any other Valentine's Day activities you'd like to do? Did anyone come up with more ways to express love?
- Read The Night Before Valentine's Day by Natasha Wing.
- Encourage students to exchange cards or share a special treat together as a class to celebrate the holiday. Remind students that Valentine's Day is an opportunity to tell others how much we love, appreciate, and care about them.