Even though you have heard my ideas about holidays and how they should be left at home, I make an exception when it comes to Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day provides umpteen opportunities for children to explore language and literacy, notions of friendship and family, as well as math. This means that the opportunities for learning far outweigh any negative notions of fairness that might also happen if Valentines exchanges are not handles well.
Making and exchanging written messages is a very powerful experience for young children. First, they are beginning to understand that written language is a means of communicating and that one day they will be able to look at those squiggly lines on the paper and they will make sense to them. Second, they are in the process (even if they are at the very earliest stages) of writing. Gaining control of their fine motor skills and putting pen to paper takes years of work to accomplish. Third, encouraging each child in the group to recognize that each member of their classroom community is important by creating a valentine for everyone teaches lessons of fairness and justice.
I would put out on the art table paper, markers, crayons, scissors, stencils, stickers, and other appropriate card-making materials each day this week and allow the children to explore card-making in general. Be sure to include envelopes so they can put their creations inside. You can put a list of the children’s names on the table and then help each child copy those names on the cards and envelopes to be sure that each child make at least one valentine for every other as well as their family members. Make sure they know how many people there are and then help them count their finished products.
On Valentine’s Day, the children can pass out the Valentines by reading each other’s names and distributing the cards amongst their friends. It will be quite a satisfying afternoon.