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January 27, 2014 A Valentine's Activity Your Class Will Love By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Valentine's Day is all about love. One activity that I love is reading, and a series of books that I love inspired one of my favorite activities of our school year.

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever CoverI was instantly taken with the Barbara Robinson series of books about the Herdman children. As far as I know, the Herdman gang was first introduced in her book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Every child that I've introduced this book to has instantly fallen in love with the characters.

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was first published in 1972 and was followed by The Best School Year Ever in 1985. The last Herdman book, The Best Halloween Ever, was published in 2004. If you aren't familiar with these books, it won't take more than a few pages for you to become smitten by the hijinks of Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman.

    The Best School Year Ever CoverIn The Best School Year Ever, there is a school assignment where each student has to write compliments to one of their peers. I immediately fell head over heels over this idea. For years I played around with how I could use it in my classroom. Finally, three years ago I was in a place where the idea and the timing were perfect and the love note activity was born.

    HeartEvery year, a few weeks before Valentine's Day (usually right after our day of learning about Martin Luther Jr.), every student in our class gets this downloadable love note activity sent to their homes. For this activity, each student has to write one sentence for every other student in class that tells something that they like about them. I send home the cover letter, enough Love Notes for the student to write one for each student (plus a few extras), and a class list.

    This activity is great for . . .

    • continuing to build the sense of community in the classroom

    • practicing writing a sentence

    • learning to plan out a project and stay on track to completion

    • encouraging conversations at home

    • thinking about others in a positive way

    • helping the teacher see each of his students through different sets of eyes

    This is one of my favorite activities because it is so interesting to see what they have noticed about each other through the year. One year, Abby's love note to Richard said, "I like your bookbag." While pre-reading them I worried about Richard's feelings when he saw it, but that love note ended up making Richard's day because he had just gotten a new backpack and was thrilled someone had noticed. I also love the ones that say sweet things like, "You are a good chaser," "You make me laugh in music," or "You are fun in housekeeping."

    Sadly, Barbara Robinson passed away on July 9, 2013, but her contributions to the world of children's literature will forever be loved.

    Let's connect on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can't wait to see you next week.


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