Holidays in the Classroom: Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day! As with all holidays, I prefer to keep things simple in my classroom. I add seasonal books to the library; and I change out some materials that I switch regularly anyways to reflect the day- such as 1-10 counting, category sorting, polishing works. Things like that. I think children get so much holiday excitement outside of the classroom that our spaces should remain as stable and calm as possible. So let’s talk about some of my favourite low key Valentine’s day books and activities!!

BOOKS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Just the sweetest illustrations.

Just the sweetest illustrations.

“Love Is” by Diane Adams is one of my favourite books. It’s about a little girl and a duckling and their year together. It’s a touching story and it has the sweetest illustrations. While not explicitly about Valentine’s Day, it’s about love and it’s one I keep out at this time of the year.

Such a fun book

Such a fun book

“Rhyme Time Valentine” by Nancy Poydar is a Valentine’s Day specific book about a little girl who adores the holiday and has big plans for the day. The illustrations are lovely, and it’s a fun read. My students have always enjoyed this book and it’s worth tracking down a used copy (it was originally published in 2002).

Anne Rockwell is pretty much always great and this doesn’t disappoint

Anne Rockwell is pretty much always great and this doesn’t disappoint

“Valentine’s Day” by Anne Rockwell is a really sweet story about a class writing Valentine’s for a classmate who has moved. It’s colourful and it’s always been a hit for a Valentine read aloud.

One of my absolute favourites

One of my absolute favourites

“Love” by Matt de la Peña was one of my favourite books of last year. A touching and gorgeously done treatise on love in its many different forms. I adore this book. It isn’t all happy- love can look like the adults in your life hiding a tv screen showing bad news- but it’s perfection.

My favourite Valentine’s book

My favourite Valentine’s book

“Secret Valentine” by Catherine Stock is another older book (this one from 1991) but it’s probably my favourite Valentine-specific book. It’s very simple, with only a few words per page, and it’s one that children who are starting to read can often begin decoding it themselves. It’s about a little girl who wants to write cards for the people in her life. I love this book and it always is a popular choice in my classroom.

CLASSROOM MATERIALS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Now let’s talk Valentine’s activities and low key ways to bring the holiday into the classroom.

sorting.jpg

I love having a simple sorting activity out on the shelf for younger children. This is a fun one I’ve enjoyed in my class because the younger ones sort this very simple heart activity by sight, while older children are invited to use a blindfold and to sort it sensorially. The hearts here are felt, stone and metal work, so they are easy to discriminate by touch. (The blindfold was made by one of my favourite makers, and the lady who makes all of Noora’s bonnets- Tammy from eddie & sofia).

I found this heart box on Etsy forever ago. I know these are clip cards but I’ve always used stones to mark the number instead.

I found this heart box on Etsy forever ago. I know these are clip cards but I’ve always used stones to mark the number instead.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to change out seasonal and holiday works are with the printable packs from Trillium Montessori. I like keeping my shelves consistent and as her preschool packs all follow the same pattern, my students enjoy seeing the changes each month. This set, the Valentine’s vehicle one, is just a delight and my students love it. The 0-10 clip cards are a perpetual favourite in my math area and these vehicle ones are one of the most popular. Each printable pack also comes with three sorting activities- colour sorting, size sorting and category sorting- you can see Noora here using the size sort. I have a preliminary language shelf with these activities on year round and they’re always in use- they are popular lessons for older children to give younger children. While I don’t have pictures of it all, the packs also include cutting strips and often other matching activities like silhouettes and pictures.

Size sorting is a great pre-language activity. I have a version of this (along with colour sorting and category sorting) on a small early language shelf all year round. And I also use them at home with Noora.

Size sorting is a great pre-language activity. I have a version of this (along with colour sorting and category sorting) on a small early language shelf all year round. And I also use them at home with Noora.

Another set of materials that Trillium makes that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day is this super cute middle vowel sorting activity. I love that includes two versions to adjust the challenge depending on your students. There’s a set of words that are printed on the same candies that fill each jar, making it easy to match up the words to the jars. For a bigger challenge, there’s image cards that don’t have the word and aren’t printed on the candy, so it’s a complete reading activity and not a visual matching one. Are they perfectly pure Montessori? Nope. But I adore these jars, and I find that bringing in lovely and fun extensions and variations helps to attract the children. They have been a wild hit every year when I put them out.

This is the simpler version, with the words printed on the corresponding sweets.

This is the simpler version, with the words printed on the corresponding sweets.

This is the more challenging version, with no pictures to match to the jars.

This is the more challenging version, with no pictures to match to the jars.

Another favourite activity I have that I switch out with regularity is my I Spy activity. I have many language objects in the classroom and several different activities that use them. For my I Spy tray, I use this lovely mat and spyglass from My Peaceful Classroom and change out the materials from time to time to reflect holidays, themes and seasons. I like to keep the objects for this particular activity limited. This set of objects was also from My Peaceful Classroom, though I use objects from all different sources throughout the year.

My absolute favourite part of this activity is the vintage wooden spool used as a spyglass. Children adore holding it up to their eye and looking through it to ‘spy’ an object on that mat. It is an absolutely magical addition to a standard classroom material.

This is how I have my ‘I Spy’ activity set up on my shelf.

This is how I have my ‘I Spy’ activity set up on my shelf.

The vintage spool ‘spyglass’

The vintage spool ‘spyglass’

There is something just magical about looking through the spyglass that makes this activity so exciting for children.

There is something just magical about looking through the spyglass that makes this activity so exciting for children.

There you have it- some of my favourite low key Valentine’s activities. There are many others you can add to your shelves, and that I have throughout the years. Pin-pushing heart and rose shapes is always fun. A collage or pasting activity with red and pink scraps and paper is always classic. I have a broken heart counting activity that I usually bring out- hot pink hearts cut in jagged halves, one with the number and one with dots on them for a quantity/symbol matching activity. It’s somewhere buried in my storage, or else I would have a photo for you. I also add Valentine’s Day stickers and phrases to our year round card making activity.

Remember that holidays don’t have to take over your classroom! They can be chill and low key and done in a way that doesn’t overwhelm your space or your students.

What are some ways you celebrate Valentine’s Day in your classrooms?

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