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February 14, 2012 Hugs and Kisses: Picture Books for Valentine's Day By Jeremy Brunaccioni
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Valentine's Day, the perfect antidote to a dark and dreary winter. There's nothing like seeing bright red valentine mailboxes lining the classroom. What a super, authentic activity for children to participate in. Armed with their valentines and a list of their classmates' names, children practice their writing, anticipating the payoff of delivering their cards. What better way to spread the love than with some quality picture books?






    Valentine's Day Read-Alouds


    Hug Time

    Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

    Little, Brown

    I'm always amazed at how Patrick McDonnell can impart so much emotion with a quick line from his pen. Hug Time follows the travels of Jules the kitten as he sets out into the world to spread hugs. It's a simple and sweet tale. The word embrace appears toward the book's end; combined with words like wallaby, gnu, and docked, this book introduces some great new vocabulary. Try out my Hug Time vocabulary skill sheet to help students solidify their learning.


    Valentine’s Day

    Written by Trudi Strain Trueit

    Scholastic, Inc.

    Written by Trudi Strain Trueit, this title is from the informative Rookie Reader series put out by Scholastic. The thing I like about this series is that they're filled with colorful visuals and informative text that adults enjoy as much as children. Here's an interesting fact: Valentine's Day can be traced to a priest in Rome, Italy, almost two millennia ago. (You may want to skip the page on Saint Valentine being put to death, but it's definitely a book worth having on your teacher bookshelf.)


    Love Waves

    Written and Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

    Candlewick Press

    Who can resist a book by the creator of Ruby and Max, Rosemary Wells? In her latest book, a little bunny sees his mom and dad off to work, and is surrounded by love as his parents describe how they think of him throughout their day. My students were charmed by the foil stamping used to create the love waves.


    Peter Rabbit: Friends Forever

    Written by Beatrix Potter

    Penguin Books

    Combine Peter Rabbit with a simple, repetitive text and you have a crowd pleaser for the early childhood set. The "Friends are for..." repetition lends itself to some interactive reading. Children will enjoy following up with a rewrite of the story, based on their concept of friendship. The end features a die-cut card that lends itself to a discussion of the meaning of "XOXO."


    One Love

    Adapted by Cedella Marley

    Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    Chronicle Books

    "One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!" It's hard to resist a book that brings a tune to mind. Based on Bob Marley's song, One Love is filled with fresh drawings of a community working together to clean up and create a park. I'll be tempted to pull this back out again for Earth Day. Try out my Love writing prompt for some extra writing and illustrating practice.

    Bonus Book

    What Every Kindergarten Teacher Needs to Know About Setting Up and Running a Classroom

    Written by Margaret Berry Wilson

    Northeast Foundation for Children

    When I first began teaching, I can remember surrounding myself with "how to" books, as well as curriculum guides and units. It was not easy to find good ones. Now the Northeast Foundation for Children's Margaret Berry Wilson has come to the table with a "responsive classroom" take on how to set up and run a kindergarten classroom. She includes sections on Interactive Modeling of Greetings, Teach Lunchtime Behaviors, Set Expectations for Parents, Read-Aloud Routines, and Keys to Successful Interactive Modeling. She's done a super job of laying the book out in an easy-to-read format and packing it with useful information that you can immediately employ in the classroom. You don't have to be a new teacher to learn from this book. Great job, Margaret Berry Wilson!

    The top of our valentine mobiles made use of some Eric Carle-inspired paper to create 3-D hearts.

    Valentine's Day Activity

    Valentine's Day is such an opportunity for children to have fun experiences writing. Whether they're receiving a card from a loved one or writing valentines for classmates, the joy of reading and writing is ever-present. An activity I like to introduce to my students is sending valentines to those in need. Whether that be a veterans group, local shut-ins, the hospital, or a nursing home, students gain a lot by learning how a little act of kindness can make a big difference.

    This year my students created heart mobiles. The small 3-D hearts at the top are made with our left-over Eric Carle paper. We took three hearts and glued them back to back with the yarn in the center. The large heart simply has the word love written on both sides. After years of having my kids struggle with writing out "Happy Valentine's Day," it occurred to me that just love was an appropriate message.

    If you would like to provide some clip art for children to decorate their bags, try out my Valentine's Day decorations sheet. This clip art collection would also be handy if your students are creating Valentine mailboxes. Enjoy!


    A slightly upside-down, but completed, valentine mobile. Getting a little goofy with the valentines.



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Susan Cheyney