We Are Family Word Sort
Put away the flash cards and practice word families with this fun literacy center activity. To prepare, label decorated valentine bags with different word-family endings, such as -ot, -ake, and -ug. Write words that belong to each of the word families on the back of valentine cards. Then place the bags and cards in a center. Invite children to draw a valentine, read the word, and place it into the corresponding word-family bag. Later, have children choose a bag of word-family valentines and use the words inside to create valentine rhymes or stories.
Place Value Hearts
Place value couldn’t be sweeter when you practice with candy hearts. You’ll also need paper cups, a four-column chart, and four paper heart cutouts that match the candy colors (pink, green, yellow, and purple, for example). Divide the candy into the cups. On the cutouts, write "Thousands," "Hundreds," "Tens," or "Ones." Attach the "place-holder" hearts to the top of the columns on the chart. To use, children choose a cup, group the candy by color, and place each group in the corresponding column. (For example, three pink hearts in the pink "Thousands" column, five green ones in the green "Hundreds" column, two yellow in the yellow "Tens" column, and one purple in the purple "Ones" column.) They write the number represented by the hearts (3,521, in the example above) and then return the hearts to the cup. To make the activity self-checking, write the answer on the bottom of each cup.
Handful of Hearts
How many hearts can you hold in your hand? Invite children to find out with this estimation activity. Place a bag of candy hearts in a center. Ask children to trace and cut out an outline of their hands. To use, children estimate how many candy hearts it will take to cover the hands, writing their guesses on the cutouts. Then they cover the cutouts completely with candy. When finished, have them remove the hearts one at a time, counting as they go, and write and circle the actual number next to their estimates. How close were their guesses? Compare and share with the class.
State of Love
Take a cue from those "I (Heart) New York" T-shirts and have kids declare their devotion to the U.S.A. — and geography. Cut out 50 pink hearts using a die-cut. On the hearts, write "I love…," completing each sentence with a different state name. Put the hearts in a decorated valentine bag. Then display a large map of the United States. Invite children to draw a heart out of the bag, read the sentence, and locate the state on the map. Have them use removable adhesive to stick the heart to the matching state. For smaller states, attach the heart on a nearby border and use yarn to connect it to the corresponding state. As a variation, write state abbreviations or state capitals on the hearts.
There’s no better time to talk about "instant attraction" (between magnetic objects) than Valentine’s Day. Place an assortment of small items, both magnetic and nonmagnetic, in a shoebox. Cut out one large and one small heart from red paper. Attach the small heart to a magnet wand. Ask children to predict which items in the box are magnetic, remove those objects, and place them on the large heart. Then wave the magnet over the objects remaining in the box. If an object is attracted to the magnet, remove it and set it beside the box. Then wave the wand over each object on the large heart. If the object is not attracted to the magnet, set the object to the side of the heart. When finished testing, encourage kids to examine how accurately they predicted.
Use this Valentine's Day version of Concentration to practice patterning and visual skills. Have kids create the game pieces by tracing a heart template onto red paper. Have them cut out their hearts and decorate them with shape stamps, using one of these predetermined patterns: ABAB, AABB, or ABCABC. Then ask them to cut their heart in half. To play, place the pieces in a bag, shake to mix them up, and then lay the pieces pattern-side down on a table. Invite children to take turns flipping two pieces at a time to try to find two matching sides of a heart. Once children have found all the matches, you might mix and match the pieces, and put them together to create an interesting and colorful valentine quilt display.