During this current school year, I have noticed a trend occurring in my teaching. Nothing earth-shattering by any account, but totally different for me. I have long held that as an upper elementary or middle school teacher, cutesy or artsy just isn’t in my vernacular. However, as I approach new activities in the classroom, I now find myself actually looking for an artistic angle. So, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I have decided to use the opportunity to send an important message about caring about others to my students, while celebrating the holiday.
A part of educating our students is to also foster positive relationships and to encourage students to look out for others. This is not limited to caring for classmates or students on the same grade level. It also extends to the entire school population (students, parents, teaching staff, administrators, clerical, and custodial staff) and the surrounding community. My school, like yours, looks for ways to nurture a caring school climate by involving the students in activities such as welcome back to school picnics, fall grade level dances, movie night, etc.
An activity that always seems to be a big hit is centered around Valentine's Day. Currently, during lunch periods, students have the opportunity to purchase Valentine’s Day message candy grams. Students purchase (for a nominal fee) a message gram to send to a student, teacher, or family member that would be delivered on or close to Valentine’s Day. In the past, it was really cute to see the students plan who they were sending valentines to, as well as the excitement on their faces when they receive their special message candy gram. An added benefit is that it’s a great way to raise money for school activities.
During one of my recent grade level team meetings, I mentioned that we could piggyback off of the idea of the Valentine's Day message candy grams for our next incentive day. This coordinates with our PBS program which reinforces positive behaviors. The plan, which seems easy to implement and cost effective, is to create an activity room where the students would be able to make and take their Valentine's Day message grams to share with school buddies and family.
Before investing valuable time and energy (because as teachers, we have so much time and energy on our hands), I asked a sampling of my students if they would be interested in not only participating in the activity, but also organizing it as well. They were elated. So, now the process begins.
decorating materials (glitter, foam hearts, etc.)
card template, message template (students can write their own messages on the back)
I downloaded the card template from Scholastic. Even though the instructions are directed at families, I like the way the envelope is constructed.
Students will label and decorate the envelope for their valentine.
Students select which message gram they want to send to their valentine and insert into the envelope!
The sides of the envelope will need to be taped to secure the message gram in the envelope. When the project is almost completed, the last thing to do is share the message grams with the intended valentines. This is a quick and easy activity to do to. You can keep it simple or go for broke. Either way, have fun with it!
Pearls of Wisdom — Remember to include your students in the preparation process. As middle schoolers, they are able to prep for the activity and work independently.
What fun Valentine's Day activities have worked in your classroom? As always, I enjoy sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier and fun.