Be Mine, Valentine

This February 14, make festive mailboxes that not only offer holiday cheer, but also math, science, and language arts practice.

By DeAnn Marie O’Toole

What it teaches: Alphabetical order
What you need: One box of conversation heart candies for each student, craft paper, shoe or tissue box, glue, tape
What to do: Invite students to pour out the contents of their box of candy. Tell students to look at the first letter of the first word on each of their candies, and put the hearts in alphabetical order across the tops of their desks. As students are working, walk around and check for accuracy. Now, have students cover their valentine boxes with craft paper, taping it into place. Let students decorate their boxes by gluing the candy hearts on them, allowing them to eat a few as they work!

What it teaches: Symmetry
What you need: Chalk; rulers; red, pink, and white construction paper; glue; boxes; heart-shaped cookie cutters
What to do: Review the concept of lines of symmetry by drawing different shapes on the board (square, circle, triangle, etc.) and allowing students to find and trace the shapes with chalk. Now, pass out red, pink, and white construction paper. Give each student different-size heart-shaped cookie cutters, or traceable hearts made from thick cardboard. Instruct students to trace as many hearts as they can (without wasting paper) from all three colors of paper. Now, tell them to use their rulers to draw a line of symmetry with a pencil on all their hearts. Cover students' valentine boxes with colored paper and cut out all the hearts. Tell students to think about how they could use their cutouts to make their boxes look symmetrical. Help students glue hearts on their boxes, making one side of the box the same as the opposite side. If you have any leftover hearts, make a bulletin board by cutting out a symmetrical tree trunk and stapling heart "leaves" marked with lines of symmetry. Title it "We Love Symme-Tree!"

What it teaches: Rhyming words
What you need: White, craft-paper­covered valentine boxes or containers, lace doilies, construction-paper hearts in many colors, pencils, Rhyme Time Valentine by Nancy Poydar
What to do: Read the book Rhyme Time Valentine by Nancy Poydar. Ruby, the main character, loves to rhyme, and writes a short stanza on all of her friends' cards. Ruby's teacher plays a game called "Rhyme Time" during class. After reading the story, tell your students that you're going to play Rhyme Time, too. List words across the top of the board that have to do with Valentine's Day. Examples could be "red," "love," "mine," "hug," etc. Now, let students tell you rhyming words for each of these examples and record them as lists on the board. Glue premade hearts to lace doilies. Invite students to copy one of the lists from the board (one word group per heart) and glue their hearts on their boxes.

What it teaches: Invertebrate classification, insect parts
What you need: Empty oatmeal containers, googly eyes, construction paper
What to do: Read Bugs Are Insects by Anne Rockwell. Talk about the differences among insects, bugs, and arachnids. Now, discuss insect parts, including the head, abdomen, thorax, legs, antennae, and wings. Using construction paper, tell students to turn their container into a new species of bug! Challenge them to incorporate a heart shape into their designs. Maybe the head will be a heart, or perhaps their bug will have heart-shaped wings. Walk around the room and ask each student if their bug is a true bug, insect, or arachnid, and have them back up their answers with an explanation. Help them cut a slit for the bug's mouth, which will soon be eating valentines!

-DeAnn Marie O'Toole

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