Since Valentine’s Day is in the middle of February, friendship and caring are natural themes for our class to pursue. From the first day of school we have been making friends and learning about what it means to be a friend. Now it is time to show our friends how much we care about them.
Each day we will be writing about one of our classmates. Whichever student is our calendar helper will be the topic student. The students will brainstorm what they know and like about this classmate before they begin their writing. They are required to write two sentences: one stating what they know about the person and one about why they like this person. I have created special stationery just for this project. Using a small school photo of each student, I photocopied each photo onto separate sheets of paper. Each student now has his or her very own stationery set to use when they write about their classmates. At the end of our writing block, I collect the papers and bind them into a book for the student. Each student has a book to take home and share with his or her family and keep as a class memento.
I’m always on the lookout for the student who is performing a random act of kindness. In kindergarten these acts come and go like the waves of the ocean. Some days everyone is so helpful, and other days, it just isn’t happening. In February, we will be adding to our coconut tree with hearts of kindness. (See my earlier post about this special tree.) If one student helps another, then the student who was helped can complete a "Helping Heart" to add to our tree. For example, if Emily helps Jeremy tie his shoes, then Jeremy can add the heart.
Kindergartners don’t really understand the meaning behind Valentine's Day beyond cards, heart-shaped candies, and maybe some flowers for Mom. I prefer to refer to it as Friendship Day. In my classroom we do have the traditional passing out of the valentine cards, but it isn’t a huge party. Instead, the day is filled will special events focused on heart-shaped activities amid lots of math, reading, writing, and art.
Instead of creating valentine card holders in the classroom, I make this a family project. Together with the help of at least one family member, students create a box that can contain their valentines. Approximately two week before Valentine's Day, I send home the directions. You can get a copy of my directions below.
On Valentine’s Day students bring their boxes to school along with enough valentines for each student. In the past, I used to send home a student list; however, if you can imagine a class full of kindergartners trying to read their classmates' names in their own handwriting, you can envision complete chaos. Last year, I decided to forego the names, and it was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. We placed all of the boxes in a line, and then students walked through dropping their cards into each box. It was easy and manageable.
Here are a few pictures of the boxes that were created last year. I can’t wait to see the results of my students' creativity this year.
Below are some of the books that we will be reading from our February book box. There are so many great books that cover the topic of friendship and caring. I find that literature is often the best medium for delivering content and concepts to young learners. These books lend themselves to great discussions about friendship and present the topic in a way that kindergartners can comprehend.
This lesson about friendship and caring will last my young learners a lifetime. I enjoy watching the growth of the special bonds my students create amongst themselves. What activities do you do to foster the growth and development of friendship and caring within your classroom?