I am always surprised teachers take the time to organize a valentine exchange and party without embracing a perfect teachable moment. Why exchange valentines in class but have the students wait until they get home to open their cards? Even preschools avoid opening valentines during class. I have always felt it is a missed opportunity to teach how to look for “love” in all the right places.
The first teachable lesson of a valentine exchange is to distinguish their name from the names of their classmates. Even young preschoolers should have opportunities to recognize their name as the same or different as their peers. Practice occurs long before Valentine’s Day including name check in first thing in the morning to identifying their own cubbie from their friend’s cubbie by using name tags. When they open their valentines in the classroom, children can be heard gleefully shouting out a thank you to friends as they “read” their cards.
The second teachable lesson might be to use candy conversation hearts in a variety of language activities. The short expressions of love can be discussed, memorized, recited, and used in role playing during circle time. Children learn how to to talk the language of love from classic literature from “Guess How Much I Love You” to “Valentine Mice.” Valentine’s Day books teach children love is found all around.
After exploring the “language of love,” follow up teachable lessons might include counting, graphing and sorting candy hearts along with art and science activities will extend the learning opportunities.
One of the most rewarding teachable moments is to introduce the “art” of cutting out assorted hearts. Plan to sit down, with a table full of scrap paper, surrounded by your class, snipping and cutting with abandon. Cutting out hearts in a room full of preschoolers is a labor of “love.” The effort is worth every minute, especially when someone masters the art! The best way to end your celebration is to make and wear “love glasses.” Our classes skipped down the hallway, visiting other classrooms sharing the “love” we see. The photo says it all… my friend Daniel~ still on the hunt for LOVE. Priceless!