The following activities nurture essential:
- Social and emotional skills
- Creative expression skills
- Language and literacy skills
- Fine motor skills
- Safety pins, two per student
- Small cut out (or die-cut) hearts, two per student
- A few stuffed animals
- Clifford's First Valentine's Day by Norman Bridwell
- Construction paper in various colors
- Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
- Small boxes of "Sweethearts" (small candy hearts with words), one per student
- Small envelopes, one per student
- Stamps, one per student
Set Up and Prepare
- Before beginning the Day 1 activity, ask parents to send their students to school with a small stuffed animal for that day's lesson. Bring in a few extra stuffed animals for students who do not bring a stuffed animal to school.
- Cut out small hearts from construction paper (or use die-cuts) and attach a safety pin to each heart. You should have two hearts and pins for each student.
- Before beginning the Day 2 activity, ask parents for the current home addresses or P.O. boxes for each student, as they will be mailing cards to their homes.
- If you have young students, address a small envelope for each student. If your students are old enough, they may write their addresses themselves.
Day 1: Have a Heart-to-Heart!
Step 1: Set aside ample time for children to share thoughts and experiences.
Step 2: Have children bring a stuffed animal from home for circle time. Gather close with animals hugged tight and ask children to be good models for listening and learning.
Step 3: Explain to children that it is normal to feel sad when we are afraid, hurt, or touched by circumstances that pull at our heartstrings.
Step 4: Ask children to talk about times that they have felt sad for themselves or someone else. Inquire what they did to help someone else cheer up or what someone else did to help them feel better.
Teaching Tip: Speak in a low, calm voice when children speak out of turn during instruction. This will model appropriate behavior and help the class focus on your redirection. Respond to unkind language or inappropriate remarks by politely asking for the person speaking out to apologize. In turn, encourage the receiver of the apology to express acceptance. Sometimes, visiting in private with one or both parties about behavior can help reinforce expectations and settle minor disputes that disrupt the learning environment.
Step 5: Talk about the concept of kindness. How can we be kind to family, friends, animals, and the environment?
Step 6: Pin small cut out hearts on every child and stuffed animal to end this heart-to-heart session about kindness.
Day 2: Send "Eat and Be Sweet" Messages!
Step 1: Discover Emily Elizabeth and Clifford's efforts to get ready for Valentine's Day by reading Clifford's First Valentine's Day by Norman Bridwell aloud to the class.
Step 2: Use this reading to introduce the role of the post office in every community.
Step 3: Have children retell story details.
Step 4: Show children how to cut out various sizes and shapes of hearts by folding construction paper in half, tracing 1/2 of a heart, and then cutting out the 1/2 heart and keeping the fold in tact. Encourage students to trace and cut at least one heart before moving on.
Step 5: Give each student a small box of "Sweethearts" (small candy hearts with words) for an "eat and be sweet" fun time making Valentine's Day messages. Help students write messages from the candy hearts onto their paper hearts, or encourage them to write their own messages.
Step 6: Hand out the pre-addressed envelopes (blank envelopes for older students). Explain that the students will be mailing their Valentine's Day messages to themselves. Model how to put a stamp in the correct place on the envelopes.
Step 7: Assist children in placing their heart messages in their envelopes and adding a stamp.
Step 8: Mail the envelopes!
It's a good feeling to send and receive kind messages!
- Take a field trip to the post office to discover how mail is handled in your community.
- Ask out-of-town or traveling family and friends to send your class postcards.
- Establish a classroom mailbox and post office area for children to send kind notes to classroom friends, volunteers, and school personnel.
- Have students color the Will You Be Mine? Coloring Page as a gift for a friend or family member.
These books support Clifford's Big Ideas and reinforce early literacy skills:
- Clifford, We Love You by Norman Bridwell
- Clifford's Manners by Norman Bridwell
- Clifford's Valentines (Scholastic Reader Level 1) by Norman Bridwell
Also check out the Clifford the Big Red Dog Book List.