As a teacher, there are few things more important than teaching your students about kindness. While you hope they’ll walk out of your classroom at the end of the school year with a host of new educational skills, instilling kindness in them along the way is a truly invaluable gift that will stay with them for all of their lives.

    Valentine’s Day brings the perfect opportunity to teach your students about the importance of being kind. And Clifford, everyone’s favorite Big Red Dog, is the perfect pup to help you get the job done! With his loveable face and his amusing antics, he’s a great way to bring lots of kindness—and lots of laughs—into your classroom.

    Here are 3 fun and easy ways you can teach kindness through Clifford this Valentine’s Day. Plus, check out more top Clifford books

    1. Think big, but start small.

    Just like in Clifford’s Puppy Days: Puppy Love, lots of students—especially younger ones—may not yet fully understand what words like “love” and kindness” truly mean. Read the story to your class and spend some time defining these words, giving lots of examples along the way. Start small with these discussions from the beginning of the school year, so by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, kindness conversations are a regular part of your school day. Here are a few ideas and discussion questions to kickstart your lessons:

  • Post it. Write out simple definitions of “love” and “kindness” on large, easy-to-read poster boards. Place the posters in a prominent spot in your classroom; this way, students will be able to see them every day, all year long.
  • Give examples. Talk about what it means to be kind and why being kind is so important. Regularly ask students to give an example of something they can do to show kindness towards others.
  • Start a kindness jar. Keep track of your students’ kindnesses, and catch them in the act! Give each student a small pom-pom each time you notice them doing or saying something kind to drop into a jar. When the jar is full, celebrate with a party or special treat.
  • 2. Make kindness cool.

    In Valentine Surprise, Clifford’s friend Charley doesn’t like Valentine’s Day because he thinks it’s too mushy, so Clifford and Emily set out to show him that caring for others can be cool. Read the book with your class, and ask these discussion questions along the way:

  • How does it make you feel when someone is kind to you? How do you feel when someone isn’t kind? Why?
  • If you were Clifford, what would you do to convince Charley that kindness is cool?
  • Fill in this sentence: “I can show someone kindness by _______.”
  • 3. Celebrate!

    Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for a celebration—especially when that celebration involves kindness! Here are a few suggestions for quick, easy ways to celebrate kindness on Valentine’s Day with your class this year.

  • Read, laugh, and learn. In Clifford’s First Valentine’s Day, Clifford gets into a lot of trouble. He gets covered in paste as Emily Elizabeth works on her valentines, and even falls into a chute at the post office. Read this book to your class, then ask your students to talk about a time when something didn’t go quite the way they wanted it to and how they learned from it.
  • Kindness collage. Put your kindness on display! Ask each student to write a kind act on a small card, then put them all together on a collage to hang in your classroom.
  • DIY bookmarks. Have your students make easy, DIY bookmarks—all you’ll need are popsicle sticks, construction paper hearts, and some glue.