How to Survive Valentine’s Day in the Classroom
It’s no secret that holidays in the classroom usually create a little extra chaos—and Valentine’s Day is no different. Between Conversation Hearts, carnations, and the classic exchange of cleverly written cards, it can feel challenging to fit any actual learning throughout the day. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s take a closer look at several Valentine’s Day themed activities aligned to core-subject areas, allowing you to engage your students, harness their energy and enthusiasm, and still teach rigorous content on this sweets-filled day.
English/Language Arts: Valentine’s Day poems aren’t just for greeting cards
Poetry is an especially helpful tool when teaching literacy in the classroom, and it just so happens that Valentine’s Day is poetry’s time to shine. For younger grades, reading simple and silly poetry, like Jack Prelutsky’s “I Made My Dog A Valentine” can help them practice their figurative language and fluency skills. For older grades, diving a little deeper into more challenging poems is a great way to teach literacy skills such as identifying tone and mood. You can even get creative and have students write their own Valentine’s Day poetry (or anti-Valentine’s Day—whatever they choose) with teacher-selected prompts. The options are endless!
Math: The efficiency of candy packaging
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about cards and heart shaped candy—you can incorporate some math skill practice into your celebrations too. A fun and simple activity to try out is testing the efficiency of candy packaging. Gather some of the packages of Valentine’s candy you have handy in the classroom. Have the students measure the packages, and then measure the amounts of candy contained within each package. Which candy company is the most efficient with their packaging? Are there ways to improve each box? Looking to work on geometry skills? Have the students try to explain why the boxes of Toblerone are shaped like triangular prisms.
Science: Why, in love, the brain is more important than the heart
With some planning, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to discuss the science of brain chemistry, particularly what happens when someone falls in love. Your discussion can center around the “jobs” of endorphins, testosterone, and norepinephrine, as well as how each of these hormones play a key role in human emotions. Bringing in engaging resources such as MRI videos displaying brain activity can help drive the point home.
History: The not so romantic truth of St. Valentine
. You might be surprised to know that Valentine’s Day is one of the top 10 most celebrated holidays throughout the world. It is also a holiday that history teachers love, as the history of the holiday itself is a little deceiving. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore how the meaning of the day (and who it’s named after) has evolved over the past 1500 years or so. Your students may be shocked to know that it wasn’t until the 14th century that this day was actually romanticized, as there are four possible saints to whom the name Valentine might refer, and some weren’t very romantic at all.
There is no doubt that Valentine’s Day is one of the crazier days of the year in a classroom. However, with a little advance planning and incorporation of fun, core-subject aligned activities, you can ensure that you don’t just survive Valentine’s Day—you (and your students) thrive!