Holidays are a wonderful way to harness students’ energy and excitement into active learning opportunities, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. With that in mind, we wanted to share some of our favorite heart-healthy and valentine-centered classroom activities for February 14th.
Use a Valentine’s Day theme to practice spelling words. Make a list of Valentine’s Day words that your students know such as love, heart, friend, mom, you, I, dad, pretty, nice, kind, like, etc. For older students, use words such as valentine, holiday, special, celebrate, February, etc.
- Spelling: Play a word guessing game with the class. Have a student choose a Valentine’s Day word from a list you create, and write a blank on the board for each letter. Have students take turns guessing letters to spell the word. When a guess is correct, the student who chose the word should write the letter in the correct blank(s). If a guess is incorrect, the student should write the letter below the word blanks. When the class fills in the word, let another student have a turn writing blanks. If desired, have older students say whether the letters they guess are consonants or vowels.
- Nouns vs. Adjectives: After students have spelled the majority of the words, review the concept of nouns vs. adjectives and ask students to stand up. If desired, include verbs as well. Then, call out each word. If students think the word is an adjective, they should squat. When the word is a noun, they should jump up with their hands up. (If you are including verbs, have students wiggle and shimmy for verbs.) Repeat words as often as needed until students have grasped the concept.
- Even More Spelling: Divide the class into small groups. Give each group large paper letters they need to spell out spelling words. Then, say the word and ask each group to race to spell the word (correctly!) the fastest.
- Writing Words: Provide construction paper and ask each student to cut out a heart. (Provide hearts for younger students.) Then, tell students you will tell them what to write. Say the words “Happy Valentine’s Day!” one by one, so they have to write them on their heart and have just made a Valentine’s Day card!
Use heart-healthy fruits and these cute fruit tags from the We Love Being Moms blog for these activities. Be sure to bring to class fruits including plums, apples, bananas, oranges, blueberries, grapes, pears, and strawberries.
- Reading and Writing: Read each tag as a class, making sure to focus on the fruit word. Hold up the fruit that corresponds to each tag. Then, have students write each fruit word in the air as the class spells it together. Depending on the level of your students, you may need to write the fruit names on the board to serve as a guide.
- Matching Game: Place baskets of fruit from all or some tags in different locations in the classroom. Assign a group of students to go to each location. Ask each group to work together to read the tags and match the correct tag with the corresponding fruit. If desired, hold a relay race where each group of students races to match tags and fruits.
- Counting/Addition: Have students stand in a circle. Each student should have a heart he or she has cut out. Give one student a basket, and ask the student to place the heart in the basket and pass the basket around the circle. Each time the basket is passed to another student, they must place their heart in the basket. Occasionally, ask a student to take out the hearts and count them together as a class (by ones, twos, fives, etc.). Have students do one jumping jack for each heart they count.
- Heart Word Problems: After the counting/addition game, go around the circle again and ask each child to take a heart out of the basket. Have students work together to solve word problems, using the hearts if needed. For example, “There were 14 hearts in the basket. Lucy and Sam took out two hearts. How many hearts are left in the basket?”
- Estimation: Bring in a basket of red fruits such as strawberries, apples, grapes, or cherries. Ask each student to guess how many of each fruit are in each category. (And don’t tell them the answer.) Then, ask each student to add the numbers together to calculate a guess for the total number of fruit. Have students write their guess on a piece of paper.
- Odds/Evens Counting: Explain the concept of odd and even numbers. Count the fruits aloud as a class. As you count, students must crouch down on the odd numbers and then jump up and reach toward the sky on the even numbers. After everyone has made a guess, find out whose guesses were closest. Congratulate the winners!
While food doesn’t necessarily involve active learning, we all know that healthy foods promote strong bodies and growing brains. As delicious as candy hearts can be, why not ask parents to bring in heart-healthy options instead? Choose red snacks such as strawberries, cherries, red grapes, sliced red apples, or raspberries.
Happy Valentine’s Day!