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Straight from the Heart

Valentine's Day means cinnamon hearts, conversation hearts, paper hearts -- and a "hearty" collection of activities for children. These lesson ideas will put you in the loving spirit of the holiday.

J. Dennis Squires, an instructional technologist in the Perry (Michigan) Public Schools, created a Web site that shows off the prowess of Perry Elementary students as they participated in Jump Rope for Heart. [The Web site is not available at the present time.]

"I took the digital pictures and created the PowerPoint presentation for two reasons," says Squires. "First, to give all of the students of Perry Elementary recognition, and second, to share what's happening in the Perry Public Schools with the whole world via the Internet."

Jump Rope for Heart is an American Heart Association program that is designed to encourage students to get involved in regular exercise -- especially jumping rope! Students seek sponsors and jump rope as a group to raise money for the health organization.

"A number of staff members heard about Jump Rope for Heart, including our physical education teacher," Squires explains. "They felt it would be a worthwhile activity for students to be involved in, and the money they raise is always donated to the American Heart Association."

Fifth graders at the school actually created a video with interviews of students and staff members about Jump Rope for Heart before the actual day of the students' marathon jump!

Parent and student support for Jump Rope for Heart is running high at Perry Elementary. "The response has been overwhelming!" says Squires. "Over 200 students from the 500 that are in the building from grades K-5 participate. This also includes many parents who volunteer their time for this event."

Even if you aren't ready to get involved in Jump Rope for Heart, the following heart resources and activities will give your students some cardiac care!


Probably the best heart-related resource on the Internet for students is The Heart: An Online Exploration from the Franklin Institute Science Museum. You will definitely want to begin your study with this virtual trip through the heart and its functions. The site offers pages that address the development and structure of the heart, how blood flows through blood vessels, body systems, maintaining a healthy heart, monitoring the heart, and the history of heart science. Because this site requires a great deal of reading, you may use it to gain a better understanding of the heart and to help you explain it to your younger students. Older students can experience the heart on their own!

Your heart will skip a beat when you share one of these heart-related activities!

Art -- making heart crafts. Nothing pulls at the heartstrings of a mother more than a handmade heart from her child. You can help your students win points with their moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas with these crafts from the BetterHomes Kitchen Crafts Page. Appropriate but not exclusively reserved for Valentine's Day, your students will love making a
Pop-Up Valentine Card,
Heart Cone,
Heart Book Pendant, or
one of the many other crafts.
You might have your students make the book pendant before you visit a great site with lots of facts and have them record in their books some of the details they learn!

Language arts -- making conversation (hearts). Conversation hearts are a favorite Valentine's Day tradition. You can learn some facts about those delightful candy hearts with the witty sayings at Spelling Love With Candy Hearts. When your students have been adequately schooled on the conversation heart, have them create one for a bulletin board in your classroom. The hearts should have one line of five or less characters or two lines of no more than four characters each.

Math -- counting and graphing. Wrap-up the above activity by bringing in a touch of math with Valentine Candy Count, a lesson for students in grades 1-4 that has them counting and graphing the contents of a bag of conversation hearts!

Health -- "hearty" recipes. One way to improve physical health is to eat better, and that means cooking foods that are tasty and good for the heart! The American Heart Association Kids' Cookbook contains many such recipes, including Shake-It-Up Chicken Nuggets. Have some fun making and eating this healthy foods, or show you have a heart by baking the cookies and giving them to a charitable organization near you.

For more heart-healthy recipes for kids, you might want to purchase The American Heart Association Kids' Cookbook.

Math -- calculate target heart rate. Your students can find out how to calculate their ideal heart rate. Have them follow the directions at the bottom of the page by subtracting their age from 220 and finding their target heart rate and multiplying that number by 60% for minimum training heart rate and by 80% for maximum training heart rate. After they have completed the arithmetic, instruct them to go to the top of the page and use the calculator to check their answers. Next, follow the directions found in Taking a Pulse, a lesson for grades 4-6, and have the students measure their pulse. How does their actual pulse compare with the desired numbers?

Language arts/art -- one with no heart. Among favorite children's stories, one of Dr. Seuss's best is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch was a heartless tyrant until he learned about the true joy of Christmas. Teaching Master 1: How Big Is Your Heart? directs your students to think about the Grinch's heart and how it changed throughout the story.

Science -- diagnosing the heart. Take your students a step beyond experts with this activity, and make them specialists! Begin by exploring some sounds of the heart...

Usually used as a tool for doctors-in-training, your students can listen to the files and discover for themselves how difficult the job of these physicians really is. See Heart Murmurs and Your Child or Heart Murmur: What to Know for simple explanations of heart murmurs and how they are treated.

Language arts -- heartfelt quotes. Send your students on a mystery to find the figures behind the heartfelt quotes on Teaching Master 2: A Quote from the Heart -- Who Said It? -- all fifteen of them! Students will use the Web resources Familiar Quotations, Quotation Search, and Quotation Center's Search Facility.

ANSWERS: 1. William Shakespeare, 2. Benjamin Franklin, 3. King Farouk of Egypt, 4. Blaise Pascal, 5. Elizabeth Ashley, 6. Robert Benchley, 7. Gilbert K. Chesterton, 8. Charles Schulz, 9. Al Bernstein, 10. Robert Bloch, 11. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 12. Diana Princess of Wales, 13. Margaret Thatcher, 14. Samuel Woodworth, 15. Henry W. Longfellow.


Health -- understanding heart disease. The Three R's of Heart Disease are reduce, recognize, and respond. Knowing these R's and putting them into action can save lives. Your students probably know a friend or family member who is at risk or is suffering from heart disease. Have them design an informational brochure based on the 3R's of Heart Disease. They may use information from this site as well as other medical sites on the Internet.


Blood Circulation Through the Heart -- Kinesthetic Activity
This is a great game for young students that explains how blood flows through the heart.

In a Heartbeat
This is a fabulous demonstration idea for showing your students' pulse with miniature marshmallows and toothpicks.

Learning About the Cardiovascular System
This is a lesson for third graders about the heart and blood. A worksheet is included, and the directions for an interesting mix of candy blood are a part of the activity!


Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © Education World

Links last updated 1/31/2012





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