I love Valentine’s day!
It’s a day to celebrate all things love! Yes, I know, a lot of you HATE it – particularly how commercialised it is. But pooey to you, I love holidays that encourage happiness, and this is one of those in my eyes.
Technically, Valentine’s day is about celebrating romantic love, but obviously you cannot do that within primary or elementary school, and it’s pretty frowned upon in secondary or high school. So pivot a little, and let your students celebrate friendship and relational love instead!
Here are a host of ideas for bringing a bit of Valentine’s day into your classroom. Scale them up or down depending on your age and ability levels.
Valentine’s Day themed craft ideas are endless – a quick Google search will bring up literally thousands for you to choose from! Here are a couple I particularly like:
- Spend your art time creating decorations for your room together. Encourage everyone, even those boys who have been raised on toxic masculinity and may sneer at pink love hearts. Show them that it is a fun activity, and everyone gets to share in the joy of having a decorated classroom together. You could create the traditional paper chains, confetti, posters, or even trace around each student on large butchers paper and have them paint themselves as cupids, or create cupid costumes. Older students might like to take their own interpretation of Valentine’s day – Emo cupid, for example.
- Have students make or decorate cards. These cards could be addressed to a friend in their classroom, or a loved one at home. Encourage them to write words of encouragement and gratitude, perhaps articulating a reason why they love that person so much. These don’t have to be ‘will you be my valentine’ cards, but something a bit more universal and less romance-focused.
- Older students will either hate the idea of doing Valentine’s craft, or they’ll become very giggly and love the time spent doing a bit more laid back activities. I find that the more over-the-top enthusiasm and cheesiness you imbue your activities with, the more they will roll their eyes and then actually enjoy themselves.
Themed Academic Work
Have a think how you could repurpose your academic work to have a Valentine’s twist. Again, the cheesier the better with older students.
- A maths activity could involve the number of hearts on different Valentine’s day cards.
- Writing a poem or short story with a friendship or romantic focus.
- Make a red/pink lava lamp in science.
- Make themed slime by adding in heart-shaped glitter and colouring it red or pink.
- If you see this well enough in advance, have students germinate and grow a flowering plant that they could then gift to a loved one (or themselves!).
- Change your worksheet graphics to be hearts or cupids, or other Valentine’s identifiers. Change the colours to be reds and pinks.
- Swap out physical materials for heart-shaped ones. E.g. heart shaped marshmallows or lollies for STEM activities, heart shaped baking tins, writing in pink pencils instead of graphite. Heart shaped plates and bowls instead of circular (bonus points if you can find ones that will be sturdy enough to use year after year).
- Learn about the heart and circulatory system, emotions, or even hormones for a friendship and romance themed science lesson.
- Investigate how Valentine’s day is celebrated in different cultures around the world, or if there is a similar but different holiday.
- Research the history of Valentine’s day, with extra points for discovering how it was first marketed and turned into such a large commercialized holiday today.
- Students could go around their house and make note of the material things they love. Then make a list of the non-material things they love about their family and/or friends. You could extend this by turning it into a project where students create a collage, poem, or slideshow about their findings.
- Older students could analyze Valentine’s advertising, stories, or social constructs.
- Expanding on that, older students could also analyze themes of social and racial representation within Valentine’s advertising.
- They could conduct surveys of what Valentine’s day means to different people, and see what patterns they can glean from the results.
- Students could write notes of kindness, gratitude, or inspiration for other students and/or staff. These could be by choice, or pull names from a hat. These notes could then be delivered with the morning notices or put in pigeon holes.
- For something a bit less public, set up an anonymous compliments box. Students write compliments to each other and post them anonymously, and those notes are passed along with the morning notices.
- For ultra-public displays of affection, create a classroom or school-wide gratitude wall, for students and staff to write notes to each other and display for everyone to see.
- Hold a random-acts-of-kindness week around Valentine’s day.
- Expanding on the student-tracing idea above, have each student create an outline of themselves and stick them up around the room. Then have all the other students write a kind comment about that student within their outline.
- Your school could source and sell roses or other flowers, chocolates, or balloons, for students to buy and send to each other.
- Host a bake sale with Valentine’s themed baked goods.
- Have a guess-the-amount competition with a jar filled with heart-shaped candy.
- Have students write a note to a younger student, giving advice about friendship as they get older (this works particularly well for older secondary students). Then randomly distribute these notes of advice to the younger grade.
- This could be a great time of year to have lessons about consent and healthy relationships, with reminders about how romantic holiday theming can be a bit of a bandaid for toxic relationships (depressing perhaps, but also super important, particularly in later secondary school).
What activities do you do with your students for Valentine’s Day?