Valentine’s Day is what I like to call the “un-holiday” holiday. You don’t get a day off from school or work, but you can still—easily—gain five pounds. My favorite Valentine’s Days were the ones in elementary school. We got to put away our normal daily work, break out the Elmer’s, and make a big ol’ red, white, and pink mess on the floor as we decorated white lunch sacks with cut-out hearts.
And remember those Valentine men we made, with the accordion legs and heart feet? Those were the best. That’s one of the reasons I became an elementary school teacher: I wanted to make the Valentine men.
Plus, there were those awesome boxes of perforated Valentine card kits with monkeys and puppies and the I-think-you’re-great-and-I’m-not-lyin’ lion. They came complete with Be Mine heart-shaped lollipops to stick in the little slots in the card, after you wrote your name on the back of each.
When the big day came, our teacher taped our decorated bags to the chalkboard trays and called us by rows to add our cards to each bag. Then we played pin-the-arrow-on-the-cupid and ate the room mothers’ offering of pimento-cheese sandwiches and heart-shaped sugar cookies with red icing. So when I decided to homeschool my own children, I was determined they wouldn’t miss out on all those great Valentine’s memories. I scrambled to come up with some Valentine’s Day lesson plans, pronto.
Our homeschool co-op was planning a big Valentine’s Day bash, so I went to the local donut shop and got each of my kids a clean, plain donut box—the kind with the hinged lid—and cleared out the entire crafts aisle at Walmart. My kids were gonna have some good boxes.
My ten-year-old daughter—also known as mini-me—couldn’t wait to get started with the stickers and the craft paper and the never-get-out-of-the-carpet glitter. By the time she finished, her sparkly box could’ve been spotted by a NASA space shuttle. It was that beautiful.
My six-year-old son didn’t touch his box.
“Don’t you want to decorate it?” I asked.
“But . . . ” I gestured to the stack of shiny metallic letter stickers. “You need to at least put your name on it, so people will know which box is yours.”
He sighed one of those I-can’t-believe-I’m-having-to-do-this sighs. Then he dug through the junk drawer, found a black Sharpie, and wrote his name on top of the box.
Now it was my turn to sigh. “That’s how you want your box to look? Just plain?”
“Mom, I’m a plain and simple guy.”
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about the red-and-pink boxes or the accordion-legged Valentine men. It can be a day to set aside the usual schedule and learn something new and different. And if you play your Cupid cards right, your kids won’t even know they’re learning. Below are some Valentine’s Day lesson plans you might want to incorporate into your school day this February 14.
1.Here’s an engaging video, put out by History.com, of the long and interesting history of this day.
2. If you’re up for a trip to the library, here’s a great reading list to help you celebrate the day.
3. Wondering how you’re going to work math into this sugar-filled day? This activity combines counting, sorting, graphing, number recognition, and more into one fun, candy-popping event!
4. Need a little language arts inspiration? Try this giggle-filled game using the leftover candy hearts. For a twist on this activity, have your student create a Valentine card using only candy hearts for the message.
5. We can’t forget science, of course! Enjoy this Valentine’s-inspired heart-slime-recipe-chemistry-experiment.
6. For those of you who, like me, can’t resist the accordion-legged construction-paper Valentine men, this art project is for you.
7. And last, but certainly not least, encourage your students to share the love with a smile-inspiring community service project. Grab all the craft supplies you can find—yes, that includes glitter, if you dare—and make as many homemade Valentine cards as you can manage. Then, take them to a local senior center, nursing home, or hospital, and pass them out. I’ll just bet the smiles you receive in return will be sweeter than any amount of chocolate.
These Valentine’s Day lesson plans should help create a pleasant diversion from the post-holiday winter doldrums. Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy your very special pint-sized Valentines, today and every day.