Valentine's Day Activities for 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 classroom 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 Activities
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.
Encourage students to work together and fill in the blanks of a Valentine’s Day-themed story using nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Students can swap their completed Mad Libs to read aloud the comical and often unexpected results. This exercise not only hones their understanding of nouns, adjectives, and verbs but also encourages them to think on their feet as they concoct imaginative and humorous tales with a Valentine's Day-themed twist.
Valentine’s Day Cards
For another fun writing activity, have students create their own Valentine's Day cards. They can write messages to their classmates, friends, or family members, and decorate the cards with drawings or cut-outs. Encourage students to explore their creativity further by incorporating puns, wordplay, or other elements learned in class, turning this card-making exercise into an opportunity for both heartfelt expression and reinforcing language arts skills.
Candy Packaging Efficiency
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.
Graphing Candy Types
Take the above candy activity a step further by encouraging students to analyze their candy data. Discuss with the class which types of candies were most and least common, and lead some insightful conversations about data representation and interpretation. To add a mathematical challenge, prompt students to calculate the average number of candies per package and explore the concept of variability within their sweet samplings.
Brain Chemistry Discussion
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.
Heart Rate Experiment
Have students measure their heart rate before and after participating in different activities, such as running, jumping, or dancing. They can record their results and compare them to see which activities increase their heart rate the most. This is a great activity to teach students about the cardiovascular system and the effects of physical activity on the body.
History 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.
Historical Love Letters
Transport students back in time by exploring love letters written in different historical periods. Students can uncover the love letters exchanged between iconic couples such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, or Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Encourage them to examine the evolution of love letter writing styles across these different time periods. How did expressions of love differ in the Victorian era compared to the Renaissance? What role did societal expectations play in shaping the content of these letters? By connecting the personal lives of historical figures with the broader social and cultural contexts, this activity can create a rich and immersive exploration of love throughout the ages.
Valentine's Day Fun Facts
Looking for more ways to make classroom discussions more exciting on Valentine's Day? Share these fun facts about the holiday with your class to add intrigue and spark some conversations.
- The tradition of exchanging handmade love notes on Valentine’s Day dates back to the Middle Ages. Fast forward to the 19th century, and the introduction of mass-produced cards made the expression of love more accessible to people of all social classes.
- Richard Cadbury, a British chocolatier, is credited with creating the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in the late 1800s. The idea was not only to provide a sweet treat but also to have a keepsake box long after the chocolates were enjoyed.
- Valentine’s Day has inspired numerous romantic movies, but the highest-grossing romantic film released on Valentine’s Day is "The Vow" (2012), starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. It raked in over $196 million worldwide.
- The origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated in mid-February. It was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
- While Valentine's Day is widely celebrated, different countries have unique customs. In Japan, women traditionally give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, and then men reciprocate a month later on White Day. In South Korea, there's also Black Day on April 14th, where singles gather to eat black noodles as a humorous anti-Valentine’s Day celebration.
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!