More Reasons to Love Valentine's Day
Heart-themed curriculum connections that your class will fall in love with.
By Erin Bailey
Remember decorating a shoe box with glitter glue and hearts cut from lacey paper doilies? Can you still recall the smell of sugar as you opened the lid and found it stuffed with treats and miniature cards claiming, “You’re sweet, Valentine”? Can you still feel the rush of warmth you had when you read the valentine from your best friend or secret crush? Up the value of Valentine’s Day with some curriculum-connected activities that are pretty sweet.
Who knew those chalky-tasting candies could be so educational? Making them in class allows elementary and middle school children to practice cooperation, spelling, vocabulary, and so much more!
A simple recipe from the Instructables website requires just three ingredients: a little food coloring, a microwave, and a hand mixer. Because you will need to heat the gelatin in the microwave, I recommend making a class batch of dough and allowing small groups to work with a portion of it. After the hearts have dried, let the kids write on them with food markers to practice spelling words, vocabulary, or even puns.
If your class is feeling artsy, let them make mosaics from the conversation hearts. Have them check out some online examples and then mount the artworks on sturdy cardboard to hang in the halls. If you have the patience, I have even seen a sculpture of the human heart made from these candies! What else can your little Picassos create?
Idioms for the Heart
Idioms can be tricky for younger learners to understand, but fun to decipher. Consider reading an Amelia Bedelia book to introduce the topic. Then, let students play charades with the heart-themed idioms below, or make a matching game with the literal and figurative meanings:
- To have a heart of gold
- To have a big heart
- To wear your heart on your sleeve
- From the bottom of your heart
- To have a change of heart
- To have your heart set on something
- To cross your heart
- You stole my heart
- My heart was racing
Healthy Hearts for Valentine’s Day
As most of the United States experiences its coldest weather around Valentine’s Day, warm up with some heart-healthy activities. Have learners list exercises that may raise heart rates and note the muscle groups involved in performing them. They can work in groups to find the activities that quicken pulse rates the most and then graph the results using heart-shaped stickers or conversation hearts. As a group, discuss why some exercises worked better than others. Lead participants to see that engaging large muscles, like legs, raises heart rates more than activities that use smaller muscles, like abdominals.
Paint by Ratio
Looking for a way to make ratios more fun? Students can paint a monochromatic picture using only red and white tempera paint mixed to specific ratios. Find a simple color by number worksheet with a Valentine's Day theme. White-out the numbers and replace with ratios. Instead of painting all the ones red and twos pink, students will see 1:0, 1:1, 3:2, etc. I suggest using heavier paper to accommodate the paint.
Assembly Line Valentines
Younger learners will see the practical application of Henry Ford’s assembly line with this activity. After showing them a BrainPOP video about the topic, tell them they are going to make enough valentine cards for the office, cafeteria, and janitorial staff using an assembly line. You can have as many stations as needed. A few to consider are folding paper, cutting out hearts, stamping, gluing, glittering, and writing a message. This activity is excellent for classrooms with diverse ability learners since there is something for all skill levels. Be sure to allow time for delivering all the cards.
If you need more inspiration for valentine-themed activities, check out Lesson Planet!
You will appreciate the simplicity and flexibility of this activity that can be used to reinforce a multitude of topics in any curriculum area. Pupils receive one half of a paper heart with a piece of information on it and attempt to find their match. Equivalent fractions, vocabulary, history facts, and chemistry equations are just some of the possibilities.
Young mathematicians practice finding per-unit cost. Using store circulars for valentine’s gifts, participants in grades 4-8 compare prices and determine the better buy.
Using a box of conversation hearts, learners practice prediction, sorting, classification, and graphing skills. This is a great activity to launch other learning opportunities!