Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday at school. With heart and flower decorations and a focus on friendship, love, and kindness, what's not to like? I like to extend the easygoing and cheerful atmosphere all day and all across the curriculum. Read on to find activities in every subject area that center around my favorite thing: the heart.
Teach This: Show your students where their hearts are located, and help them pin paper hearts on their shirts to mark the spot. Then show them an air pump and explain that the heart pumps blood and that tubes called arteries take the blood through the body. Set up a tunnel to represent arteries. Then explain that other tubes called veins bring blood back to the heart. Have students jump rope to get their blood pumping back to their hearts.
Subject: The Heartbeat
Teach This: While they are sitting and inactive, have students place their hands on their chests to feel their heartbeats, and/or let them take turns listening through a stethoscope. After they do something active, such as marching or jumping, have them feel their heartbeats again. Explain that during exercise their hearts have to work harder, so they beat faster. To show that hearts have rhythms, listen to music with a beat while students feel their heartbeats.
Subject: Heart Health
Teach This: First, explain that food is fuel for the body and that "everyday" foods are better fuel than "sometimes" foods. Put pictures of both kinds of foods in containers placed about five feet apart on the floor. Have two students at a time be race cars and refuel at each container by picking a card at random and then either running to the next container if they pick an everyday food (good fuel) or taking baby steps if they pick a sometimes food (not-so-good fuel). After everyone has had a chance to race, talk about cholesterol that can stick around the heart and cause disease. Have the students hula-hoop to bust their cholesterol.
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Subject: Word Recognition; Vocabulary; Oral Language
Teach This: Tell your students that Cupid shot his arrow into so many hearts that he needs help finding some of the letters, words, and phrases he used. Have students identify them on candy conversation hearts. Afterwards, students can have conversations or try to make sentences with the words or phrases.
Subject: Independent Reading
Teach This: Write a variety of short poems and iron them, with some decorations, in between pieces of wax paper. Tie them all together with string and have students read the valentines.
Subject: Story Retelling
Subject: Ordinal Numbers
Teach This: Play the card game hearts or a simpler variation of it. Read the nursery rhyme "The Queen of Hearts" and have some tarts.
Subject: Matching; Patterns
Teach This: Make several small paper hearts out of brown and black paper and decorate them in sets of different patterns. Put the hearts in an old candy box and have students match them up.
Teach This: Have your students sort candy conversation hearts by number of letters, number of words, and color.
Subject: Friendship; Art; Writing
Teach This: Have your students make the valentines they will be giving to their classmates — as glittery and sappy sweet as possible. I made the glitter backgrounds for my students, and they decorated the cards with glitter foam letters, glitter die cuts, glitter stickers, confetti, sequins, gems, ribbons, and more glitter.
Send home a letter asking for donations to send valentines for Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week.
Teach This: Have your students make their own valentine holders, too. We made houses out of construction paper to hold our valentines.
Subject: Friendship; Writing
Teach This: Have each student pick a name at random and be their secret admirer for a week. They can leave secret notes and pictures for their friends, or do kind things for them. I keep out a supply of tiny note cards, lollipops, and Hershey's Hugs and Kisses.
I'd love to hear your ideas for Valentine's Day.
Have a heartfelt weekend!