EducationWorld is pleased to present this article contributed by Lila Daniels. She has taught high school art and worked in higher education publishing. Daniels contributes to several Web sites, including TeacherPortal.com.
Valentine’s Day lends itself to all sorts of fun classroom activities -- exploring the human heart, designing a card for someone special on an iPad or learning the importance of inclusion in the classroom.
Here are eight creative ways to celebrate the holiday with your students:
Valentine Post Office
This classic activity that rolls language arts and social studies into one. Start by learning the rules of letter writing -- from the date to capitalization to addressing an envelope. Students then compose letters to their classmates. Create a postal center in your room, and student postal workers can pick up the mail, sort the letters and deliver them to classmates.
Students can also write Valentine letters or poems to mail home. This is especially fun when combined with a field trip to your local post office.
Here’s a project that gets students comfortable working on an iPad or tablet computer -- and moves you one step closer to bridging the digital divide. Use apps such as Greeting Card Shop or Elfishki Valentine App to create cards.
Cards With Heart
Here’s a twist on the traditional heart-shaped card that injects a little science into a Valentine tradition. Find a diagram of the human heart, like the heart diagram from KidsHealth.org which works for first through third-graders. Sandra Gibbs offers an inexpensive download with complexity for older students. Have students fill in the appropriate terms or track how the blood flows to and from the heart. Then, have students create a realistic heart as a Valentine card. Encourage them to come up with silly messages like "I'm Pumped to Be Your Valentine." (For a quicker activity, use these pre-made "anatomical" cards.)
Throw A Healthy Heart Party
Learn about the heart and how to keep it healthy as you party on Valentine’s Day.
Watch Your Heart: Learn about the heart with a short video like BrainPop's Heart Don’t Break It.
Thump-Thump: Have kids pair up to take each others’ resting heart rates. Put on some silly music and have them dance for two minutes or do a couple of laps around the classroom or anything that gets their heart rates up. Have students check their partner’s active pulse rate. Collect and share the results.
Heart True or False: Collect a bunch of amazing facts about the heart and make up some wacky ones. Play a game of heart true or false. Students will "answer'" the questions by putting their right hand over their heart if they think it’s true, their left if they think it’s false.
Eat Your Heart Out: Have your class make their own heart-healthy snacks. Skewer fruit kabobs or use heart cookie cutters to stamp out sandwiches.
Poems from the H.E.A.R.T.
Valentine’s Day and poetry are a natural combination. Have your kids create acrostic poems using Valentine-related words. Older students may choose from a word bank, while younger ones may need to brainstorm with a single word before composing their own.
Matters of the Heart
Learning about states of matter? A great way to demonstrate liquids and solids is to melt chocolate chips in the classroom (over a hot plate or in a crock pot). Find an ice cube tray -- preferably one with little heart shapes. (Hint: Keep it in the freezer or fridge until the chocolate is melted.) Pour melted chocolate into the ice cube tray. Let it cool into a solid and serve your creations at a Valentine party! Don't forget to have your students make predictions about what will happen when you heat up solids and cool down liquids.
Valentines Equal Love
Why not work math into your valentine cards? Create a step-by-step valentine project that teaches measuring, symmetry, patterns, and even addition and division.
For example, have your students measure and cut an eight-inch square out of a piece of construction paper. Have them find the center, make a line and fold. Have them create borders, hearts, or other decorations. You can even include challenges such as placing different shapes in different parts of the card (for example, "about half an inch from the bottom") or placing a heart in the center of the open page.
Write from the Heart
We often focus on building class community at the start of the year, but Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to reinforce the spirit of community and the importance of inclusion.
Create large hearts, one for each student. Have students write their own names at the top, then pass them around (or post them and have kids walk around). Students can write compliments on each others' hearts.
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