1. We begin our Valentine activities by making heart decorations for the windows. The children use stencils to make hearts out of construction paper in different colors and sizes (old Valentine chocolate boxes make great stencils). The children are shown that they can glue a heart within a heart within a heart for a fancy Valentine. Another option is to create hanging hearts by gluing largest to smallest. Some years I have the children hang these heart decorations from mobiles made out of bent wire hangers and yarn. We learn a Valentine song to the tune of "Im a Little Teapot".
2. Next we make a Valentine mailbox from an old box covered with white paper and leaving an opening at the top. During center time the kids are able to come over and decorate the box with hearts they make using stencils, stickers and a heart stamp.
3. The next thing I do is to show the children how to make a Valentine card. I demonstrate how to draw half of a heart on a folded piece of paper. Then when this is cut out it forms a perfect whole heart. This demonstrates symmetry and is part of the math lesson. I show the children that I write a message on the heart, fold it and then put it in an envelope. I tell the children to address the envelope with the persons name that they want to receive the Valentine and then to put it in the mailbox.
We brainstorm a list of possible messages to write inside of a Valentine card and I focus on messages that utilize our sight words from the Word Wall. This list goes into the writing center for the children to refer to later. The children then practice making some symmetrical Valentine hearts.
4. The next day we review the process of making a Valentine card. Through a shared pen approach we chart step-by-step directions for making a Valentine card using as many of our sight words as possible. I prompt the children to think of the steps and I guide them to phrase their sentences so that we use a maximum of sight words. With the shared pen I let the children take turns writing the sight words they know. Another chart we create is one in which the children dictate step-by-step directions for how to make a fold and cut symmetrical heart. These charts are hung in the Writing to Share area of the writing center so that children can now make Valentines on their own to put in the Valentine box. In the photo below the children took turns writing the words said, the, name, in and it.
As you can see in the photo (below, right) I use children's clothing hangers to hang my poems and charts. I have sticky hooks all around the room so I can move my charts anywhere. I use an inexpensive rolling clothes rack that I purchased from K-Mart to hang my charts for easy access since I do not have a closet.
5. This year I had the children make Valentine cards (see below) for mom and dad with rebus pictures. I modified this idea (I Love You poem, page 19) from the February/March 2001 Mailbox magazine and Mailbox Companion (their online magazine). They had nice pictures that I printed out and photocopied. After discussion of rhyming and rebus with examples on the blackboard, the children were able to use the photocopied pictures of their choice or they could draw their own rebus Valentine message. This activity was a big hit. Thanks, Mailbox!
This student created his own rebus valentine. He wrote, "I love you like a basketball loves a basketball court." Each child colored a cover for their card.
6. I invite parent volunteers to come in to the classroom to help the students make their Valentine bags in which they take their Valentine cards home. (I previously stop by the bakery and ask to buy some of their white bags.) I give the children an assortment of coins with which they buy the materials to make their Valentine bags. The children then visit each of the parents to buy their supplies. For example, students would purchase their white bag at the first station at a cost of 25 cents. Then they go to buy some stickers. Each sticker might be worth a penny. Then they go to buy a lace heart,etc. This activity reinforces coin identification and value.
7. Some other math activities I do with the children are patterning with candy conversation hearts, and using candy hearts to find the area and perimeter of a small heart. On this same day I also like to have the children read their conversation hearts out loud. I chart the responses. This is always a hilarious precursor to getting to eat their their candy hearts. We also create a large class graph of the colors of their candy hearts.
8. Below is a photo of some Valentine's Day themed center activities. These are pretty self-explanatory. The children use either dice with the hearts mat. If using the dice with dots, they roll the dice, count and put that number of markers on their board (each child gets a board) and the first one to fill his board wins. With the other dice the children roll and if they get a plus sign they put that many markers on their board. If they get a minus sign they must remove that many markers. The first one to fill the board is the winner. We start games like this early in the year. By the time I teach addition and subtraction the children have already absorbed the meaning and concept of these symbols.
9. How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways! The photo below is of a bulletin board I made this year. It's not fancy but does display some of the math worksheets I created to go along with the Valentine theme. To reinforce measurement I drew various hearts of different sizes on the paper and drew little x's on each side or top and bottom to guide the students on where to place the ruler. Another worksheet I made up reinforces money. I found valentine items in the circulars and cut and pasted them on a paper, giving them a value. Then on the other side I put pictures of money and had students draw lines from the item to the matching money. You can also see a worksheet I made to reinforce patterning and color words.
This photo also displays some Valentine animals the children made. The fish and the mouse are each made out of four hearts. The fish is usually the easiest for the children. The cat is a little more difficult. It is made with six hearts.